Each month in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness offers the canoe camper a different experience. While the water temperature in May might be too chilly for swimming it's just perfect for catching a meal of lake trout. There are lots of great reasons to plan a May BWCA canoe trip.
The ice is usually off of most of the Boundary Waters lakes during the first week of May. This is the time of the year to go if you are in search of solitude or moose antlers. Moose lose their antlers during the winter and often times it’s along one of the portage paths. Being one of the first people on the BWCA portages means you could find one of these treasures. The USFS encourages you to leave the antler where you find it for others to enjoy.
As soon as the ice is off the loons return to the wilderness lakes of the Boundary Waters. The bald eagles will have already returned to their nests before the ice is off. The mosquitoes don’t normally appear until later in May but the black flies could come any time depending upon the weather. Wildlife viewing is generally very good due to the lack of people in the BWCA.
Lake trout fishing in the Boundary Waters is phenomenal in May when the water of the BWCA is the coldest. The lake trout are close to the surface and are usually hungry for a meal so are eager to bite. They’ll continue to bite throughout the summer but they swim deeper and deeper as the summer goes on.
The temperatures in May can be very warm or quite chilly. We’ve had snow and we’ve had 90 degree days in the Boundary Waters in May. The average daytime high temperature in May is 66 degrees and the average low is around 45 degrees. Rainfall is minimal with just under 3 inches being the average in the BWCA for May.
If you're looking for a time to have the Boundary Waters all to yourself then take a canoe trip in May. The smell of spring is in the air, the lake trout are biting and your chances of seeing wildlife are wonderful. The BWCA is a great place to be in May.