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BWCA Permit Reservation Information

3/3/19 – On the eve of the second attempt at launching the updated website for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness overnight permits, we wanted to summarize the changes and let you know what information you’ll need in order to complete your permit reservation. The Forest Service has christened this event as “Go-Live”.

When: Permits will be available for reservation on Monday March 4th at 9:00 am CST for the entire 2019 quota season (May 1 – Sept 30)

Where: The BWCA subsection of Follow this link to take you directly to the spot. Otherwise, from the homepage, simply search Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Permits.

How: To make a permit reservation, you’ll need the following information:

  • Desired entry point, for example Sawbill Lake (cannot be changed after time of reservation)
  • Date of entry (cannot be changed after time of reservation)
  • Group Leader name, address, phone number and email address (if no account already exists for the leader, you will be prompted to create one)
  • Alternate Leader name(s) – up to 4 alternate leaders can be designated at the time of reservation. Alternate Leaders are entitled to possess the Permit in the event the Group Leader cannot attend the trip. Alternate Leaders may not be added after the time of reservation.
  • Group Member names (optional at time of reservation) – new this year, all members of the group are going to be listed on the permit. These names, can be added/deleted/changed up until the time of permit issuance. If not known at time of reservation, they may be added later.
  • Watercraft information (optional at time of reservation) – the type and number of watercraft must be designated. This can be changed up until time of permit issuance. For example, 2 canoes.
  • Credit Card to pay use fee and reservation fee.
    • Reservation fee: $6 – this one/permit payment is non refundable in the event of cancellation
    • User fee: $16/adult (At the time of reservation, a minimum of two adults must be paid for along with the reservation fee for a total of $38. At the time of permit issuance, the second user can be deleted, in the event of solo trip, or changed to child/senior. A corresponding refund will be issued at that time)
  • Senior/Access pass number – if you are a card holder, the number must be entered at the time of reservation and the card must be presented at the time of permit issuance.
  • Permit Issuing Station – you’ll need to select where you’d like to pick up your permit. The default will be the nearest Ranger Station to the entry point, but you may select a cooperating business, such as Sawbill Canoe Outfitters. There is no extra cost, and the permit will be at the Cooperator (Sawbill) eliminating a stop at the Ranger Station.

What: You will need a permit for all overnight camping inside the BWCA Wilderness. (Day trips that don’t include an overnight stay only require a free, self issued, day use permit available at the entry point). Each entry point has a different daily quota. The permit does not reserve camping at any given location, it simply entitles entry from a specific starting point on a specific date. Once inside the Wilderness, groups can go wherever they please and camp at any available designated campsite. A group can stay in the Wilderness for any continuous amount of time. A group is limited to a maximum of 9 people and 4 watercraft.

Most of this information is the same as the previous system and the user interface is largely the same, too. Be sure to use an email address that you actively monitor as you will be sent a series of informational videos required to be viewed prior to your arrival.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or need our assistance! Best of luck!