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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permit reservation begins January 31, 2024. Here are tips to ensure a smooth registration

Jan 18, 2024 08:28AM ● By Editor
Photo Credit: USDA Forest Service

From Superior National Forest - January 18, 2024

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) quota permit reservations for the 2024 quota season, May 1 – September 30, will be available beginning at 9:00 a.m. CST on Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Visitors are encouraged to book their reservations online at or by calling 1-877-444-6777.  

Related: The most wonderful time of the year? Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness 2024 permit on-sale date announced

Visitors planning to take an overnight paddle, overnight motor, overnight hiking trip, or a motorized day trip into the BWCAW between May 1 and September 30 are required to obtain a quota permit. Group size is strictly limited to nine, or less, people and no more than four watercraft.  Smaller groups enhance the wilderness experience and chances of seeing wildlife and decrease both physical and social resource impacts.  

Tips for making a successful permit reservation: 

  • Plan Ahead: have at least three travel options (dates and entry points) in mind before making a reservation in case your preferred option is unavailable. Reserve only permit(s) you can use.  Reserving only what you can use allows others to experience the unique beauty of the BWCAW. 
  • Need to Know: the BWCAW is over one million acres in size, carefully review Issue Station hours and locations before reserving your permit. You must pick up your permit from the issue station specified on your permit and you can only pick up your permit on your entry date or one day prior. 
  • Online Reservations: create/ register for a account now or make sure you’ve logged into your existing account before making your reservation.  The latest version of Chrome is recommended for best results. Refresh your screen at 9:00 a.m. to ensure you are seeing the latest updates on the website. 
  • Fees & Cancellations: review these sections of the BWCAW permit to ensure you are aware of all related fees and how to cancel your permit at 

Successful trips don’t just happen! They are the result of careful planning. Please be aware of these BWCAW rules and best practices: 

  • One permit per day, per permit holder: When a visitor makes multiple reservations on the same entry date or has overlapping reservations, all but one permit will automatically be cancelled by the Forest Service. Permit holders are limited to one permit per day because they can physically only be in one place at a time, and the group leader must stay with their group for the duration of the trip  
  • Alternate Permit Holders: Alternates cannot be added once a reservation has been made. Check the box under a group member’s name to select them as an alternate who can pick up the permit if the permit holder cannot go.  Only the group leader or alternates are allowed to pick up the permit and alternates cannot be added after the reservation has been made. 
  • Issue Stations: Reserved permits must be picked up at the issue station specified on the permit. BWCAW Cooperators can only print permits that are listed with their issue station. Find an issue station near your entry point before making a reservation. Check the “Issue Stations” tab for hours and locations, if you find you need to change your issue station please call a Superior NF District Rangers Office per the link above. 
  • Non-profits: Click for information about reserving BWCAW permits for a non-profit organization
  • Cancellations: If you know you are not going to use a permit you’ve purchased, please cancel it as soon as you know you won’t use it to let others enjoy the BWCAW too. The BWCAW has seen an increase in no-shows without cancellation, help us ensure others have the opportunity to enjoy it.  
  • Leave No Trace Education: All permit holders are required to watch three Leave No Trace (LNT) education videos and review the BWCAW Regulations and Rules before receiving their permit. Thoroughly review the BWCAW Trip Planning Guide and watch Parts 1 & 2 of the BWCAW Leave No Trace video series before picking up a permit.  Part 3 will be viewed when your permit is issued.  
  • Safety Tip: The BWCA Wilderness is over 1,098,000 acres in size. Always remember to leave a trip itinerary with family or friends before departure. See page 23 of the trip planner for an example and safety tips.  
  • Bear Awareness: Be vigilant when it comes to food storage in the Wilderness! There are campsites with no viable trees to hang a food pack. Containers listed on the IGBC list are product-tested and found to be resistant to bears. Many BWCAW Cooperators also rent food storage containers.   
  • Alternate - Superior National Forest: Carefully consider whether a wilderness trip is the best option for your group. There are 254 backcountry campsites, as well as dispersed camping areas, outside designated wilderness that require no fees or reservations. For more information, visit the Superior National Forest website.  

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