Explore the Wilderness

Plan a Boundary Waters Trip

Need inspiration for your next adventure? Want to canoe the Boundary Waters but not sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place!

Step 1

Decide What Type
of Trip to Take

There are many ways to explore the Boundary Waters, but the two most popular modes of travel are hiking and canoeing.


Northeastern Minnesota is created for canoeing. This is the best canoe country in the United States, a place where each year thousands of lives are transformed. 


A number of rugged wilderness trails wind through canoe country, challenging the stamina and navigational skills of even seasoned backpackers.

Paddlers guiding a canoe through a shallow river in the BWCA
Step 2

Pick a Time of Year


From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Boundary Waters becomes a destination for adventure seekers and those looking to relax, fish, and discover the wonder of this national treasure.


Crisp weather, stunning colors, fewer people and no bugs. There’s a reason people pick fall to get their Boundary Waters fix!


Once the lakes freeze, people exchange their paddles and canoes for snowshoes and dogsleds. Those who embrace the cold are rewarded by unmatched beauty, silence and wonder.

Plan a Trip
Step 3

Select Your Route

Our interactive route-finding tool makes it easy to find your next adventure. With 1,200 miles of canoe routes and endless options of where to go, what lakes to visit and which portages to take, you’ll need a couple lifetime’s worth of paddling before you get bored.

Paddlers lifting a canoe out of the water in the BWCA
Step 4

Reserve Your Permit

From May 1 to September 30, if you plan on any kind of overnight visit to the Boundary Water (backpacking, canoeing or otherwise) you need to obtain a quota permit. They go quickly, so reserve yours in advance!

Woman with portage packs on a BWCA trail

Continue Preparing for
Your Boundary Waters Trip