Boundary Waters Permit Information


Permits are required for groups to enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) during all seasons. Between May 1st and September 30th, permits need to be reserved and are limited by day and by entry point to reduce impact on the wilderness. It is essential to plan your trip early. After September 30th through April 30th, reservations for a permit are not required. Day use permits do not require reservation and are free.


For the most precious of permits which generally involve a motor, there is a lottery which is drawn in January and requires entry of lottery requests prior to that. Most paddling adventures do not require that you enter the lottery as was the case in the past. Please refer to the the General Reservation section below for regular permit booking.

The BWCAW 2018 lottery application has ended. And the lottery will not longer be available in future years. Permits will be reserved on a first come, first serve basis.

 General Permit Reservations

Reservations for all entry points can be made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning January 31, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.

You can contact an outfitter who can not only help you plan and outfit a trip but also to book your permit for you. Permits are also available directly at

 Planning Ideas

Visit the trip planning forum in the messageboard for trip planning ideas:

Trip Planning Messageboard