BWCA Permits Overview

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.

 Lottery

There is no longer a lottery for permits. All overnight canoe/motor or day use motor permits will be available

 General Permit Reservations

Reservations for all entry points can be made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. CST.

You can contact an outfitter now 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 Recreation.gov or by phone at 1-877-444-6777.

 Planning Ideas

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

BWCA Trip Planning Messageboard

 BWCA Permit Videos

View the new permit videos which are being distributed by the Forest Service.

BWCA Permit Videos

 Permit Details

Details from the National Recreation Reservation System.
  • Beginning in 2019, the $10.00 reservation fee is changing to $6.00 for every quota permit. That means whether you reserve a permit ahead of time or purchase a 'walk-in' permit, the fee will be $6.00. This includes Day Use Motor permits.
  • Group leaders (permit holders) are required to have a valid email address to reserve a permit.
  • Each alternate permit holder is required to have a valid email address to be listed as an intended alternate at time of reservation.
  • Alternates must respond to the recreation.gov email sent at the time of reservation and accept being an alternate within 72 hours of reservation, or the permit will not have alternates.
  • If an alternate does not have a recreation.gov account, they will be required to create one at verification when they respond and accept being an alternate. Alternates can log on to www.recreation.gov and create their account any time prior to a reservation.
  • All participant names must be entered for the permit to print at issuance. Participant names may be added to a reservation any time prior to the permit pick-up.
  • For reservations made by a Cooperator, permit holders will receive a copy of the confirmation email.
  • The new platform has stronger security controls, better protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and increased fraud protection. Recreation.gov will no longer store credit card information.