If you’re looking for a true wilderness then visit the Boundary Waters in October. BWCA permits are based on a self-issuing process due to the lack of visitors during this month. No people, no bugs but lots of places for you to enjoy the solitude of the BWCA.
The month of October is known as the Harvest Moon and Falling Leaves moon. After the fall colors have reached their peak and dried up then the winds blow the leaves to the forest floor. The decomposing leaves produce the unique smell of fall in the air. The air is somewhat chilly with the average daytime high of 51 degrees and a nighttime average of 32 degrees. The sun can still be hot but the hours of daylight are dwindling and night fills the sky longer.
The night sky is the focus in the Boundary Waters in October. Two different events keep canoeists eyes on the sky during the evenings. The Draconid Meteor Showers are seen at nightfall and occur the 2nd week in October. They are best seen without a moon as are the Orionids. The Orionid meteors are the third week of October and display about 15 meteors per hour and leave long trains. After midnight is the best time to see the Orionids. Be sure to check the calendar to see the exact dates for each year and plan your BWCA trip around them.
The BWCA lakes turn over in October and the water is chilly at around 40 degrees. This is when whitefish and lake trout spawn and large northern pike can be caught. Walleye move shallower once again making them easier to catch.
The Boundary Waters is quiet in October as wildlife prepares for winter. The snowshoe hare will be changing colors as moose and deer enter their rut. Some ducks will be present like the Golden Eyes and Mergansers but soon they along with the loons will leave for warmer temperatures. Snow buntings will appear as the other winged wonders disappear. The Black Bears will be looking for a place to spend the winter months and other animals will be busily preparing for snowfall.
With a little extra caution and clothing October can be a wonderful time to visit the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Camping can be a bit chilly but the lack of people and ultimate solitude makes October an incredible time to experience the wilderness of the BWCA.