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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Reservations), MN

part ofSuperior National Forest, US Forest Service
Photo: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness


The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is located in the northern third of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. Approximately 1.1 million acres in size, it extends nearly 150 miles along the international boundary adjacent to Canada's Quetico Provincial Park and is bordered on the west by Voyageurs National Park.

The BWCAW offers more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 11 hiking trails and approximately 2,000 designated campsites.

The area was set aside in 1926 to preserve its primitive character and was made a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964. Visitors can canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the french voyageurs of 200 years ago.

Any group taking an overnight paddle, motor or hiking trip, or a motorized day use trip into the BWCAW from May through September is required to obtain a quota permit.

Reservations are recommended since there are a limited number of quota permits available for each entry point. Self-issued permits are required year-round for all non-motorized day use visitors and for all overnight visitors entering the BWCAW between October and April. Self-issued permits are free and available at the entry point or Forest Service ranger stations.

Know Before You Go
Rules and Regulations for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • When making advanced reservations for overnight permits, at a minimum you must pay for two adult user fees. User fees will be charged based on the group size you specify (example: if your group size is five adults and two youth, you will be charged for $96 in user fees at the time of reservation). You have the option of paying for two adults at the time of reservation and changing your group size at the time of permit issuance, or you can adjust your group size online and make a payment up to two days prior to your entry date.
  • All reserved permits must be picked up at the location specified when the reservation was made, or at a Forest Service office issuing station. Non-Forest Service permit issuing stations may charge an issuing service fee up to $2 for each overnight permit.
  • Only the group leader or alternate group leaders specified when the reservation was made can pick up the permit. It is recommended that you list three alternates when you make your reservation; these cannot be added at a later date.
  • Permits can only be picked up the day before or the day of entry by the group leader or alternate leader listed. Office hours vary; check with your permit pickup location for its office hours.
  • The person that picks up the permit must stay with the group for the duration of the trip and ensure that they follow all rules and regulations.
  • Walk-up permits, if available, can be picked up at any permit issuing station. However, non-Forest Service permit stations may only accept credit cards for payment. Only Forest Service offices can accept cash in addition to credit card payments.>
  • All passes, including the Interagency Senior, Access and Seasonal Passes, must be presented at the time of permit pickup to receive a discount.

Contact Information

Superior National Forest - Supervisor's Office
8901 Grand Ave Place
Duluth, MN 55808
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