Canoeing in Minnesota's Boundary Waters: FAQs

What is the best time for an Ely, Minnesota canoe trip?

If the prime purpose of your wilderness canoe trip is fishing, consider late May, early June or September. There are fewer people in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Quetico Park during the months of May and September. There are fewer bugs after late July.

What is the best route for canoeing in the BWCAW?

There is no best Boundary Waters Canoe route. Your route should be determined by your ability, your time and your desires. Any of our professional wilderness canoe outfitters can help you plan a Minnesota wilderness canoeing trip to meet your needs. They know the area and will take the time to mark your map noting campsites, fishing spots, rapids and portages, and scenic or historic sites.

How is the weather in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?

The average highs are:

May: 69.6
June: 71.7
July: 79.2
August: 72.0
September: 63.2
Do you have any Boundary Waters permits?

The United States Forest Service will not allow outfitters to hold permits. However, the outfitters can secure all the U.S. and/or Canadian permits you need for your trip. BWCAW permits can be applied for as soon as your trip date is firm.

How are the bugs?

The blackfly and mosquito seasons are usually short-lived. There are many brands of bug repellant on the market that work well. During the bug season there are some things you can do on your trip to help the situation, and the outfitters can assist with this, i.e. choosing a campsite, etc.

What should I bring canoeing in Minnesota?

Our Ely, Minnesota canoe outfitters will supply you with everything you need for Minnesota canoeing except your personal items. You should bring an extra pair of pants, warm shirt, socks, underwear (long johns for spring and fall), jacket, cap or hat, sturdy shoes or boots, sneakers for around the camp, toiletry articles and knife. Optional items include a first aid kit, sunglasses, compass, insect repellant, flashlight, and a rainsuit. Fishing gear should include a spinning or spincast rod and reel and a few of your favorite lures.

How is the fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?

The Canadian Shield lakes of the border waters give an angler a wide variety of fishing opportunities. Minnesota fishing experts attest to the fact that the smallmouth bass fishing can’t be matched anywhere. The deep cold lakes are home to lake trout. Every lake has northern pike waiting to give you a battle while walleyes are sitting on the reefs ready to fill your frying pan . Don’t overlook the slab-sized panfish. Spring and fall fishing is usually the best, although because there is very little fishing pressure on most of the lakes, fish can be caught at any time.