There are a lot of questions and confusion out there about BWCA permits, so we’re doing our best to answer the questions and clear up the confusion.
What are BWCA Permits?
They are the key to entering one of the most untamed places on the planet. Because the BWCA is protected wilderness a permit is required to enter the area. The permit covers up to 9 individuals, adults and youth, for the duration of their stay. They can be ordered directly through recreation.gov, or through the an outfitter.
When do I need BWCA Permits?
Anytime that you’re staying overnight in the BWCA between May 1 and September 30 you will need to reserve an entry point and a specific date that you want to enter the BWCA. Anytime outside of those dates you will still need a permit but can use a free self issued day use permit. Once you’ve confirmed those two items, you’ll also need to know how long you’ll be staying in the BWCA. Each entry point has a finite number of permits each day, so you’ll want to plan well in advance.
Where do I pick up my BWCA Permits?
At the nearest Forest Ranger’s station or the outfitter you reserved it through.
How much are BWCA Permits?
There’s a flat fee of $10 per permit, plus $16 per adult and $8 per youth on the permit. Youth are considered anyone 17 years old or younger. Adults are 18 years old and older. For example, say my wife and I (both over 18) and our two children (under the age of 18) are requesting a permit. We will pay $10, plus $32 (2 x $16), plus $16 (2 x $8) for a total of $54. Please note that non-Forest Service permit issuing stations may charge a fee of up to $2 for each permit.
Other Questions on BWCA Permits
Q. If I’m going for multiple nights do I need multiple permits?
A. Yes and No. If the nights are consecutive you only need one permit. If you’re going to go into the BWCA, leave, then come back another night you will need a separate permit.
Q. Do I have to select an entry point?
A. Yes you do. Because the BWCA is governed by the U.S. Forest Service they need to know how many visitors each area is receiving each season.
Q. Can I change the night of my permit?
A. No, once you’ve purchased your permit the date is non-negotiable. The only way to change a date on a reserved permit is to cancel the old one and secure a new one.
Q. My group has more than nine people, do we need another permit?
A. Yes, each permit allows a maximum of nine people.
Q. Can I change the number of people in my group after I’ve reserved it?
A. Yes, as long as that number doesn’t exceed nine per permit. The newly added members will need to pay their user fees at time of permit issuance.
Q. Can anyone pick up the permit?
A. No, only the group leader or alternate leader may pick up the permit. You may pick it up the day before or the day of the trip.
Q. Does the person who purchased the permit have to come on the trip?
A. Yes and no. Either the leader or alternate leader may pick up the permit and travel with the group. In either case, the person who picks up the permit must stay with the group for the duration of the trip.
We hope this has been helpful and has cleared up any questions you may have had. For any other questions or to reserve your permit, please contact us.