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member (10)member
01/25/2021 04:23PM  
Hey all, I'm planning my 1st ever trip into BWCA this summer and I am wondering about the best way to go about getting a permit. I know it opens up this Wednesday. Do the permits all get scooped up within the first few hours? Should I be waiting phone in hand right at 9am or is it better to try and sign up online? I have three EP options and dates. If I don't get through within the first few hours am I pretty much out of luck?
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distinguished member(2466)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/25/2021 05:28PM  
ADK, it depends to some extent on which entry points you are trying to get and what dates you can accommodate. There are entry points that will fill up for prime dates pretty quickly but even those typically don't completely fill up. Many "average" entry points might fill up for the most popular dates like Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.

I don't usually reserve an entry point the first day because we are flexible in where and when we go in and have never had a problem finding a good spot to go in. Some folks who might be going in say July or August just drive to a ranger station and pick from the available permits that day - works for them. So it's kind of all over the board.

If you want to be reasonably assured of a specific entry on a specific day, I would be ready at 9am on Wednesday to take your shot. The BWCA was much busier than normal last year due to the pandemic and this year may just be the same. But having said all that, you will be able to go in somewhere, with a little flexibility in your plans. It's not quite that crazy.

Which entries are you considering and approximately when? With that info we can speak to demand and likely availability much better.
01/25/2021 05:48PM  
Like lindy said, some entry points and dates go faster than others, but many are still available for a while. Not all available permits get used in a year. A lot of people can't really make their plans this early and will wait until their group can arrange a date. I usually go ahead and just get it done within the first few days, but last year waited until mid-July before I gave up on a Canada and got a permit. I still got the one I wanted. Like Lindy I have a lot of flexibility.

If you want to go online and get one Wednesday morning, it's recommended you set up an account now before it opens. Note - if you're in the Eastern Time Zone, it will be 10AM Eastern time. Here's a link to the reservation site if you need it.
member (10)member
01/25/2021 05:54PM  
Thanks for the reply. My 1st choice is EP37, Kawishiwi Lake. The backups are EP41 Brule Lake and EP38, Sawbill Lake. Going the 1st week in August, hopefully.
01/25/2021 06:37PM  
ADKpaddler: "Thanks for the reply. My 1st choice is EP37, Kawishiwi Lake. The backups are EP41 Brule Lake and EP38, Sawbill Lake. Going the 1st week in August, hopefully. "

Register online ahead of time (like today or tomorrow so you have your login and all that done) for

At 9am or there-abouts you should have no issue getting what you want I'd think. At 10 am I'd hope the same. Maybe even the next day or next week. But the longer you wait the more you risk it. So...9 am online is your best chance and you will have likely your first option. (it's a good EP)
01/25/2021 06:39PM  
But yes, as others have said. There will be some dates on the calendar where EP 37 might have a spot or two open (it has what...7 or 8 or 9...I'm going from memory?) if you'd check in May or June for your time in August. Or the whole week could be booked.

Also, people do cancel permits through the spring/summer but that's a very hit or miss thing. So you randomly find an open permit where it was once full if you keep checking. But you shouldn't have a problem I'd think if you're ready and already registered and logged in that morning.

You'll want the overnight paddle option. (there are day paddle, day motor, etc)
distinguished member(2466)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/25/2021 06:44PM  
ADK, based on that info I would say that none of those entry points are the ones that fill up right away. If you have a little flexibility on the actual entry date, or just don't know which day yet, I think you would be okay for a while. Kawishiwi has 9 permits per day, Sawbill 14 and Brule 7 but my guess is that Brule fills up last. I could be wrong.

On the other hand if you know your date for sure nothing wrong with booking it right away. I think there is the ability to change dates/locations but you might sacrifice the reservation fee, not a huge deal. I am partial to the Kawishiwi entry, love that area. Sawbill is nice too but busy until you get out a ways. Brule to me is the least desirable but it leads to several areas that are interesting. It is a big lake and is known for wind problems.

If you are so inclined, talk a little about the goals for the trip(fishing, solitude, photography, relaxation?) and what you have planned - travel every day? Loop trip? Out and back? in a half a day to a day and basecamp? Maybe we could make some suggestions that might work better for you - although nothing wrong with any of your choices. To ease your mind, if you are not ready to book Wednesday morning, there will be plenty of options available later - but don't wait too long.
member (10)member
01/25/2021 07:47PM  
If I end up getting the Kawishiwi permit, the tentative plan is to do the Lady Chain, exiting at Sawbill Lake. But since we have 6 days, I'd like to try to get to Koma or Mahlberg on the 1st day and basecamp for 2 nights, spend some time fishing for walleye and maybe do a daytrip over to Fishdance to see the pictographs. Then head back to Lake Polly, and take a few days to get through the chain. I'm told the fishing is good throughout.

If we end up putting in at Brule, we'll head north to Winchell and then make a loop from there through Gaskin, Horseshoe, Pillsbury, Henson, and Omega. I've also considered setting up a shuttle and taking out at Ram or Morgan Lake.
distinguished member(831)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/25/2021 08:06PM  
EP points that have multiple permits per day are less likely to fill up on the first day that permits open. Some of the really popular EPs that have only 1 or 2 permits per day might be gone pretty quickly on specific days especially around weekends or holidays. I don't think you will have trouble getting one of your top 3 choices.

If you have a little flexibility on start day or which entry point, you will have no trouble getting a permit.

I have even waited until the a week or two before a holiday weekend and found a long as I am willing to take whatever is left :)
01/25/2021 08:51PM  
Get registered online, confirm email or whatever they need. Try logging in once beforehand and search at the top for boundary waters and find the permit reservation page. It should say closed until....

That morning, login then at 9 or 9:01 refresh your browser and head back in and it'll all be open as long as they don't have a fiasco like they did 2 or 3 years ago with the new system. You'll be good
01/26/2021 01:12PM  
Hey guys, thanks for all the great advice and input! I've had the same questions and concerns, as its been 5yrs since my last trip. I can now sleep a little easier tonight knowing its not like trying to get Stone's tickets!
I'm hoping for EP14, 2nd Thurs in June. Doesn't seem like there should be any problems, but still plan on logging in by 9.
Good Luck to all who apply!
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