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
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.