RESERVING A PERMIT
Permits are required for all visitors of the BWCA, whether for a day or an overnight. Permits do not reserve a campsite, but rather grant access to a particular entry point. An entry permit is required for each travel group; group size is 9 persons or less for each permit. Permit quotas have been set to minimize impact on the area, so securing permits as early as possible is critical to getting your preferred date/entry point. Each permit lists party leaders, a specific entry date and a specific entry point. A permit is needed from May 1st - September 30th. BWCA permits become available in mid-January of each year. 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.
CANCELLING A PERMIT
You can cancel your reservation online. The use fee deposit will be refunded IF a reservation is cancelled two or more days prior to the entry date. If the reservation is not cancelled in time, or the permit is not used, the deposit is not refunded.
PICKING UP A PERMIT
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. 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. 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.
A group must have an official tax-exempt number to qualify as a non-profit organization. All the people on the trip, with the exception of a guide, must be associated with the non-profit organization. Non-profit organizations may reserve as many permits as they like; however, there is a limit of no more than three (3) permits within a permit season to be reserved using the name of any one non-profit organization name as the trip leader instead of a specific person's name as the trip leader. Additional permits can only be reserved under a specific person's name as trip leader.
The only benefit to reserving a permit using a non-profit organization's name as the trip leader is that the permit may then be issued to anyone who can prove affiliation with the organization in the same location. For example, if a permit is reserved with the trip leader name of "Boy Scouts, Troop 21, Ely, MN" anyone affiliated with that particular organization may have the permit issued to him/her. When reserving a permit using a non-profit name as the trip leader, the non-profit organization's name, address and a contact person for the organization is required. The representative of the non-profit organization that actually picks up the permit becomes the trip leader, must remain with the group for the duration of the trip, and will be responsible to see that the group follows BWCA regulations.
PAYMENTS AND REFUNDS
A $10.00 non-refundable reservation fee is required for each reserved permit. The BWCA camping fee is $16.00 per adult and $8.00 for youth under 18; this is a flat fee; not a per night or per day. If a reservation is cancelled outside the 2-day window prior to the entry date, the user fees paid will be fully refunded. If cancelled within the 2-day window, $32.00 for 2 adults is retained and additional payments will be refunded. The Forest Service will retain the entire payment if the group is a no show. A new confirmation letter will be generated each time a change is made. Adjustments to group sizes can be made through Recreation.gov or at the permit issuing station as needed. The $10.00 reservation fee is non-refundable. Cancellations to the reservations can be made via Recreation.gov or by calling the BWCAW Reservation Center. (Call 1-877-444-6777, March 1 - Oct 31 - 9:00 am - 11:00 pm, Nov 1 - Feb 28 - 9:00 - 9:00 pm). BWCAW reservations are not transferable.
SEASONAL FEE CARDS
Seasonal Fee Cards may be purchased in person after May 1 from any Forest Service Office. This card does NOT eliminate the need to pay the $10.00 Reservation Fee and User Fee deposit. Seasonal Fee Card Costs per Person: Adult - $64.00; Child/Youth 0-17 - $32.00; Interagency Senior/Access Pass Holders - $32.00; Interagency Youth/Access Pass Holders - $16.00. All cards (Interagency Senior/Access Pass Holders, or Seasonal) must be presented at the time of permit pickup to receive a discount, otherwise the full fee will be charged.
To make your reservation, go to the Permit Reservation Center