Paddlers guiding a canoe through a shallow river in the BWCA

Boundary Waters Permits

BWCA Permits and Entry Points

Do you need a permit to explore the Boundary Waters!


Permits are always required to enter the Boundary Waters. But from May 1 through September 30, everyone taking an overnight camping, hiking or canoe trip of any kind needs to have a quota permit.

That’s why it’s important that you plan your BWCA trip early.

Here, we’ll help you find a route and get a permit!

Below you’ll find a map and a list of all entry points, as well as dozens of Boundary Waters canoe routes that will make it easy to plan your trip.

Map, Entry Points, Suggested Canoe/ Hiking Routes

Entry Point Entry Name Find Routes from this entry point
1 Trout Lake Loop East Through Cummings Lake Exploration of Trout Lake and its neighbors Short Loop through Pine Lake
4 Crab Lake and Cummings from Burntside Lake
6 Slim Lake
7 Big Lake Big Rice Lake
8 Moose River (South)
9 Little Indian Sioux River (south)
12 Little Vermilion Lake (Crane Lake) Exploration of Little Vermillion Lake
12A Lac LaCroix Only
14 Little Indian Sioux River (North) One-Way to Nina Moose Lake
16 Moose/Portage River (North) Agnes, Iron, Stuart Loop Lac La Croix Express
19 Stuart River Stuart River, Iron Lake Loop
20 Angleworm Lake Angleworm Trail
22 Mudro Lake (restricted–no camping on Horse Lake)
23 Mudro Lake Iron Lake Loop
24 Fall Lake Horse Lake Loop Exploration of Basswood Lake
25 Moose Lake Eastern Loop through Ensign Lake and Beyond Basswood / Wind Lake Loop Exploration of Moose Lake
26 Wood Lake Exploration of Basswood Lake
27 Snowbank Lake Northern Loop from Snowbank Southern Loop From Snowbank Loop through Parent and Disappointment Lakes
28 Snowbank Lake Only
29 North Kawishiwi River
30 Lake One Exploring the Number Chain Wilder / Fire Lake Trip from Lake One
31 Farm Lake Loop through the Kawishiwi River Triangle
32 South Kawishiwi River Loop through Clearwater Lake and Lake One
33 Little Gabbro Lake
34 Island River One-way to Perent Lake
35 Isabella Lake One Way on the South Kawishiwi River
36 Hog Creek
37 Kawishiwi Lake Alice Lake Loop
38 Sawbill Lake Loop through Phoebe, Malberg and Louse Creek Exploration of Alton Lake Cherokee Lake Loop
39 Baker Lake Cherokee Lake Loop
40 Homer Lake
41 Brule Lake Brule to Long Island Loop
43 Bower Trout Lake
44 Ram Lake
45 Morgan Lake Meeds, Omega and Winchell Loop
47 Lizz and Swamp Lake
48 Meeds Lake Meeds, Horseshoe, Gaskin Loop
49 Skipper and Portage Lakes Loop through Banadad, Long Island, and Henson
50 Cross Bay Lake Cherokee, Sawbill, Gillis Lake Voyage
51 Missing Link Lake Frost River Loop
52 Brant Lake
54 Seagull Lake Loop through Kekekabic and Little Saganaga Loop through Seagull and Saganaga Lakes
54A Seagull Lake Only
55 Saganaga Lake Loop through Seagull and Saganaga Lakes
55A Saganaga Lake Only Exploration of Saganaga Lake
57 Magnetic Lake Granite River Journey to Saganaga
58 South Lake Rose Lake Round Trip
60 Duncan Lake Minnesota Mountains
61 Daniels Lake
62 Clearwater Lake Pike and Pine Lake Loop
64 East Bearskin Lake Caribou Lake Weekend
66 Crocodile River
67 Bog Lake
68 Pine Lake
69 John Lake
70 North Fowl Lake
75 Little Isabella River
77 South Hegman Lake
80 Larch Creek
84 Snake River Clearwater Lake Loop

Fees and Cancellations

The cost for an overnight permit during the quota period is $16 per adult and $8 per child, ages 0 to 17.

Holders of the Interagency Senior and Access Pass get a $8 discount, and Interagency Youth Access Pass holders get a $4 discount.

Once you complete your reservation, you will need to put down a $32 deposit to hold the permit, plus a nonrefundable reservation fee of $6. If you are traveling solo, or in a small group where the total user fees are under $32 dollars, you will be refunded the difference upon picking up the permit.

Now, what if something goes awry and you need to cancel your trip?

This $32 is refundable if canceled at least two days in advanced, but the $6 reservation fee is nonrefundable. If you cancel on the entry date or one day before the entry date, you will be charged a penalty of $32.00, any additional amount will be refunded.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people can be on one BWCA permit?

One permits is issued for each group. Group size is limited to nine people and four canoes or any type of watercraft (such as stand-up paddle boards). The reason for this is that smaller groups have less impact and enhance the experience for everyone.

What if we are traveling before April 30 or after October 1?

In this case, you don’t need to reserve a permit in advance. Simply fill out a self-issued permit at the kiosk located at the entry point.

Why does the Boundary Waters have a permit system?

Quota permits are in place during the most popular times to enter the Boundary Waters (from May 1 to September 30) because it limits the number of people entering each location, prevents overcrowding and preserves the wilderness experience for all visitors.

What if I’m just going in for a day paddle and don’t plan on camping overnight?

Permits for day travel can be self-issued and filled out at the entry point. These don’t need to be reserved in advanced.

Do they mail me my permit?

No. You need to pick your permit up at the designated issuing station the day of or one day before you enter the Boundary Waters.

What if I need to cancel?

You can cancel online or by calling.

Is it okay if I start my BWCA canoe trip a day late or a day earlier than the date that’s on my permit?

No. You can only enter the Boundary Waters on the date and at the entry point that is on your permit.

But it was raining the day I was supposed to go in. Can’t I just wait a day?


Can I transfer my permit to another party?

No. Permits are non transferable.

What if I don’t find a permit for the entry point and the date that I want?

This is why you need to plan early! Once permits are gone, they’re gone. However, there is a chance that someone will cancel their reservation and the permit you want will become available. But don’t count on it!

Additional BWCA Trip Planning Resources

Ready to Reserve Your Permits?

Once you have selected your route it’s time to reserve your permit to ensure your spot for the date you want.