Whether it's your 1st trip to the Boundary Waters or your 20th, an overview of the permit process can help streamline your journey into the wild. 

Reserving your Permit

Permits are needed year round to enter the Boundary Waters but from May 1st through September 30th, any overnight trip requires reserving a quota permit. If you are only going in to the BWCA for the day you do not need to reserve a permit, you are able to fill out a day permit at the kiosk at your chosen entry point. You may wonder why there are quota permits in place during this time, the answer is to limit the number of people entering at each location to help preserve the wilderness by preventing overcrowding and in turn making your experience more enjoyable. 

Now some information about reserving a permit. To start off one permit is issued per group, a group consists of a maximum of 9 people and 4 watercraft whether its canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, etc. The cost of a permit is $16 per adult and $8 per child (0-17) along with a $6 nonrefundable reservation fee. At the time of reservation you are required to have a deposit of $32, with any remaining balance able to be paid up to 2 days prior to your entry date. If you cancel outside of this 2 day window, you will be fully refunded minus the $6 reservation fee. If cancelled inside the 2 day window, the $6 plus the $32 deposit will be retained but any additional balance will be refunded. 

Once your permit is reserved you are able to pick it up at a designated issuing station, fun fact the Frost River shop is one of the places you are able to pick up your permit! A very important note, you are only able to pick you permit the on the day or one day before you are entering the Boundary Waters. Permits for the quota season become available on a first come first serve basis starting at 9am CST on the last Wednesday of January each year, this year that date is January 25th, 2023.

Some questions courtesy of Friends of the Boundary Water Wilderness are:

“Am I able to go in a day earlier or a day later than the date on my permit?” The answer is no, you are only allowed to enter on the exact date and the specified entry point on your permit, you can not enter through a different entry point or on a different day.

“What if I can’t find a permit for the entry point and date that I want?” - Once permits are gone, they are gone which is why you should reserve them early! Though it never hurts to keep checking in-case a group cancels for the date and entry point you wanted, but don’t count on it. 

Picking Up Your Permit

When picking up your permit, it must be done by either the group leader, who is typically the person who made the reservation or an alternate group leader, who is also specified at the time of reservation. At the issuing station you will be required to give details about the vehicle(s) that you are taking to the entry point, these details usually consist of the make, model, and license plate. You also are required to watch a few videos discussing policies, rules, and general safety for your time in the BWCA. 

Depending on your entry point, pick Frost River as your issuing station! We love being the last stop for your permit as well as any other last minute items you may have forgotten or need to get! 


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