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Boundary Waters Canoe Trip Planning

BWCAW Sunrise


Permits are required and provide your group, of up to nine people, access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Entry permits are for a specific day and an allotted number are available per day, per entry point. A $12 non-refundable reservation fee is required for each permit. In addition, a $20 user fee will be charged at the time of the reservation. This $20 fee is refundable if a reservation is cancelled two or more days prior to the entry date. Your $20 user fee will be applied toward your group payment based on the following schedule.


Per Person Per Trip
   $16 - Adult
   $8 - Youth 0-17
   $8 - Golden Age or Golden Access Passport Holders

Per Person Seasonal Fee
(All seasonal fee card holders must still obtain a BWCAW Permit)
   $64 - Adult
   $32 - Youth 0-17
   $32 - Golden Age or Golden Access Passport Holders

Applications for permits are accepted by phone, fax, email, or via the web site. For more information please visit the BWCAW Permit Reservation Website.


The following checklist will serve as a useful tool in preparing for your trip. You may find that some of these things do not apply to you and you can leave them behind. Remember, everyone has different tastes so just let this list serve as a tool in your planning process.

  • Rain Gear
  • Sweatshirt
  • A few pairs of socks and underwear
  • Swimsuit
  • 2 pairs of footwear
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 cotton t-shirts
  • 1 wool shirt
  • Long underwear (spring and fall)

  • Toilet Paper
  • Small Shovel
  • Duct Tape
  • Sewing kit
  • Folding Saw
  • Hatchet/Axe
  • Pocket Knife
  • Rope (50-100 feet)
  • Camp stove and fuel
  • Waterproof matches
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Cooking supplies
  • Life vests

  • Maps
  • Compass
  • Bug Repellent
  • Headnet
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Water Filter
  • Water Bottles
  • Camera and film
  • Fishing gear
  • Fish stringer
  • Book and/or cards
  • Journal and pen/pencil

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Boundary Waters Journal

Reader Input - Add Your Thoughts or Advice

Is there anything else that people need to know when planning a trip to the BWCA? Anything special we should bring along or leave behind? Let's hear your tips and advice.

Brent: Remember that whatever you pack you'll have to carry over portages. Try and travel as light as possible, while still remaining comfortable on your trip.
Flip: Always bring a warm coat. It may be July but the temp can drop and the wind picks up. You may leave it in the car, but it's a must in Northern Minnesota.
Abominable Snowman: I would not bring 2 cotton t-shirts. I would bring 2 Coolmax (polyester) shirts. Breathe better and dry MUCH faster. I always bring binoculars on my trips as well.
Mick: Your rain coat can serve as a nice outer layer against wind. This helps keep your weight down by not carrying a second coat.
Ponch: I have to fully agree with the snowman, but felt like I needed to put in my two cents. Cotton is worthless when it is wet. It does not retain heat, (it actually sucks up heat) it does not breath very well when wet, and it does not dry very fast. Polypro is the way to go. Quik dry, retains heat even when wet and more comfortable than cotton anyway.
Roulo: Cotton may not dry as fast, but it is way more comfortable. I always take cotton and I've been to every lake in the BWCA (well 99.8%). Remember 100% cotton t-shirt is what you want. Nylon pant's that zip off into shorts are good.
Rat: Among the backpacking community there is a saying, "Cotton Kills". Many foolish people go out wearing cotton and then overheat (cotton does not dry fast enough to provide an evaporitive cooling effect, so your sweat just stinks instead of cooling you off) or freeze (wet cotton has no insulating value). Anything made from cotton is worthless, shirts, pants, socks, anything. Coolmax, Polypro, Nylon, Fleece, & Wool are all good choices (for staying cool as well as staying warm). And quality garments made from these materials are very comfortable.
Kanu Guy: I have to agree that cotton is way more comfortable, but some days are too hot. I always have long sleeve polypro and coolmax for the cold/hot days. My favorite for cool mornings is windblock fleece pants. I prefer fleece to wool as lighter and more compact with a compression sack.
knukrazy: For myself I always pack my light weight polypro long underwear, polartec fleece jacket and pants, and a rainsuit of some kind. With those items in different combinations I can remain very comfortable in a wide range of temps. Plus the fleece doubles as a great pillow.
michaelkayaker: I agree with everyone else about the cotton thing. As for shoes, I use 2 types. 1)open toe, most likely sandals, 2)closed toe, your preference or higher top rubber boots. And don\'t forget an extra paddle JIC for each paddler. I also like some means of hanging a water bottle close to my seat. A lesson from kayaking, carry a large sponge for soaking up stray H20.

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