BWCA permits?

How do you get a permit for paddling Moose Lake. I’m interested in paddling to the Canada border (but not crossing) and eastward.

Or would a trip to Voyagers National Park be easier?

here is a whole website

no permits
I’ve searched for permits, but it looks like everything is booked for all of next year.

I’m thinking the permit process
hasn’t started yet for 2015 season - perhaps the page listed below needs to still be updated

never been to bwca but am looking forward to a trip this summer- I’m also trying to figure out the permit process

so look at this page and see if you can make sense of it.

9:00 am central time on jan 29 seems to be the key day for me to try- for my sawbill lake entry permit (not a lottery pick). Good luck! and any bwca experienced paddlers please feel free to jump in and tell us newbies how its done.

i dont understand the lottery thing. And it sounds like the permit just allows you to enter the area. You also need a camping/overnight permit too?

I’m thinking i might just camp at a private campground on moose lake, paddle northward to the border or so, and return to the campground. But maybe moose lake gets too busy?

BWCA Permits
The bwca permit allows you to enter the area and camp wherever there are designated campsites. I believe you can stay in the bwca on 1 permit for up to 15 days but I could be wrong. Most of my 14 trips have been 5 to 7 nights.

try its a message board filled with lots of information about permits, outfitters, and routes.

The Superior National Forest site has info on the bwca too. I do not understand the lottery either so I get my permits in Feb after the lottery. Plus the lottery is really only for the super popular entry points. I have never not been able to get a permit to an entry point.

Day use permit
"I’m thinking i might just camp at a private campground on moose lake, paddle northward to the border or so, and return to the campground. But maybe moose lake gets too busy?"

i think that you can just fill out a self-serve day use permit for that - may not even be a fee for day use

I also think that the 2015 season permit system hasn’t begun yet

other options = Quetico park - similar process to obtain a reservations for a permit, but more expensive

(could be coupled with a BWCA day use permit to enter via Moose Lake) Quetico is more expensive (a per person per night camping fee vs a single per person fee for BWCA - but Quetico gets only about 20 to 25% as smuch traffic

also google Sylvania Wilderness for a similar trip

So lets say i get a permit for an entry point for overnight. Are the camping spots first-come-first-serve? Can I just canoe to wherever I want?

Campsites are first come first serve. Travel early and pick a campsite early and you should be able to camp on the lake that you want. Your entry permit allows you to enter on the lake that your permit is for and from there you can travel wherever you want.

You can do a loop or basecamp or stay on the lake that you enter on as long as there are designated campsites.

As a solo bwca tripper I move every 2 days. When I go with my brother, we basecamp. There are so many options on where to go. has all the info you need. Or you can ask an outfitter. I have asked outfitters for help in menu planning and route suggestions.

thank you jeepgirl,
some of this I surmised from reading on the web but its nice to hear it from someone who has been there and done that. If the feds would update their reservation page and include more info on it that would be helpful to trip planners. I can easily see how someone could conclude how the reservations are full when limited information is provided on the actual reservation site.

You are welcome tdaniel. Try too. I heard they are a good site for planning. Right now I have started to plan my longest solo yet. I would like to do 10 days in the bwca next summer. I don’t have route yet but am thinking somewhere off the Gunflint Trail. Ok so Ely is the most popular area to enter. Sawbill and Gunflint entry points are not as popular. Personally I think the Gunflint side is prettier. My favorite time to go is September. September is great because there are a lot less people, no bugs, warm days and cool nights.

Use an outfitter if you don’t have your own gear. If you don’t have your own canoe, spend the extra money and rent a Kevlar canoe. Much lighter for portaging. My solo kevlar canoe weighs 31 pounds. Super easy to carry.

I love the bwca and will gladly let people know what I know about the bwca. I live in Minneapolis so the bwca is almost in my backyard.

Hey JeepGirl, have you ever had any bear problems when your out there alone? I hear a lot of stories (probably just stories) about how the bears are thicker than mosquitoes and just as hungry.

I live in SW MN, biggest pest this way would be the neighbors.

No bear problems yet. I am careful about picking a campsite. Any campsite that has trash in the fire pit and trash around the fire pit, I stay away from. I also hang my food. The bears are not as thick as the mosquitos.

I’m not sure about that hanging food thing. I’d be confident enough to just keep my food in the tent with me.

So if you happen to see a family of bears helping themselves to a campsite, and a guy hiding in a tree, that will be me. As you paddle by, say ‘I told you so’.

Funny when you don’t live with bears

– Last Updated: Nov-07-14 9:36 PM EST –

at home you worry alot about the unknown.

Lessee.. I have been solo canoeing in Ontario for 20 years. I have seen plenty of bears.. I ran out of fingers.. but they were all berrying or digging for grubs.

Never had one in my campsite. However if you want to talk red squirrels and mice in Quetico...

I don't think there are that many bears in the BWCA. We have 40,000 here.

I think that if you see one you should really feel honored rather than scared.. But till you do its natural to be scared.

NONONO on food in the tent. That is a sure way to make trouble. Take that small chance of a bear problem and make it bigger.. You cannot defend your food against a bear that way. Hanging is not the most bear proof method but the aim is to separate you and your food so you don't get hurt.

At a campground in Yosemite I saw a bear enter a tent.. and leave via a non door.. With a Dorito bag in its mouth.. The tent tenant was crouched in a corner...

Speaking of…
bears… So i googled bear proof container. Found No-Fed-Bear container. 8x10? Seriously? Of course the bear will leave it alone. Cant fit enough food in it to feed a mouse.

Im just an average size person, but when im in the woods, I eat double than normal. Any advice on bear containers?

hanging food
We hang our food. We also follow the rule of nothing in the tent that has an odor. I have never had an issue with hanging our food.

I think the key is to stay at a clean campsite. I have seen beautiful campsites with food in the toilet and food remains by the fire pit. I have also seen fish guts thrown in the toilet. Yup I look. We leave and pick another site.

All of our cooking utensils are also hung.

No food in tents!!!

Otherwise you’re asking for trouble.