Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness

Wilderness like moose, wolves and beavers live in the BWCAW

Successful trips don't just happen. Plan ahead for your next BWCAW trip!

Leave No Trace in a Place Worth Preserving

During covid19, we saw unprecedented visitation to the BWCA Wilderness, and along with that, an unacceptably high amount of resource damage, including cutting of live trees, human waste not being properly disposed, trash left in campfire rings, illegal entry, food not properly stored, disruptive and oversized groups, lack of BWCAW permits, improper food storage, and campfires left unattended.

Leave No Trace Education

To ensure visitors understand and follow BWCAW Regulations and Rules and Leave No Trace principles, all permit holders are required to watch three Leave No Trace education videos prior to their trip:

Step 1: Watch Parts 1 & 2 of the BWCAW Leave No Trace video series with your group before departing for your trip.

Step 2: Watch the third video and review the BWCAW Regulations and Rules with your cooperator or Forest Service staff when picking up your permit at the issue station.

After viewing the videos, you will understand how to make a difference in the long-term health of the BWCAW by engaging in responsible recreation practices. It takes a commitment from everyone visiting these treasured lands to ensure that the lakes, waterways and forests of the BWCAW are protected against both physical and social resource damage, so wilderness character is preserved for future generations under the law. 

TIP: Before reserving your permit, please review the permit issue station locations and hours of operations by clicking on the arrow next to the Issuer listed under the Cooperators tab on Be sure to select an issue station near your entry point, the BWCA Wilderness is over one million acres in size. Once you have placed your permit with a BWCAW cooperator, the issue station cannot be changed. Reserved permits must be picked up at the issue station specified on the permit.

Winter Camping in the BWCAW

BWCAW Permits

A permit is always required to enter the BWCA Wilderness:

  • Visitors taking an overnight trip (paddle, motor, or hiking) or a motorized day trip into the BWCAW from May 1 – September 30 are required to obtain a quota permit. For information about reserving quota permits, please visit
  • For information on reserving quota permits for a non-profit organization, click here.
  • Walk-up permits may be obtained at any open permit issue station on the entry date or one day prior when available, however, reservations are recommended since there are a limited number of quota permits for each entry point. 
  • Self-issued permits are required for non-motorized day use visitors year-round and for all overnight visitors entering the BWCAW from October 1 – April 30. Self-issued permits are available from kiosks at BWCAW entry points and Forest Service offices (no reservation required and no recreation fees).
  • For the most current, comprehensive information on planning a trip to the BWCAW, please review the BWCAW Trip Planning Guide and BWCAW Regulations and Rules

Fees and hours for motorized Prairie Portage use have changed.

Recreation Alternatives on the Superior National Forest

Would camping in areas of the Forest adjacent to the BWCAW better suit the needs of your group?

There are 254 backcountry campsites outside the wilderness that offer remote paddling, camping and fishing. Here you can experience solitude without reservations, fees or permits and still have a fire grate and latrine. Many backcountry campsites are located on canoe routes outside the BWCAW including Island RiverTimber-Frear and Twin Lakes.

The Superior National Forest also offers 23 developed campgrounds and 18 rustic campgrounds. Rustic campgrounds are free of charge and available first come, first served year-round. Fee campgrounds are open May – September and may be reserved at See the Forest Camping Guide and the Forest website for more information.

International Travel

The US-Canada Border has been closed to non-essential travel (recreation, tourism and entertainment) since March 2020 due to the global pandemic. Please visit the links below for the most up to date information:


Wilderness Volunteers

Contact Northwoods Volunteer Connection or your local Forest Service office.