To take a Boundary Waters Canoe Trip, you need a BWCA permit for overnight camping. Here’s how you do it:
Read this page and then go to this site: Recreation.gov
This link goes right to the BWCA permit part.
Select your entry point and indicate your date ranges for your trip and hit the “search” button. You’ll see a window appear like this:
The number below the A is what is remaining open and you can reserve that date. Make the reservation for the entry point you are seeking. If you need help with selecting an entry point and will be renting a canoe from us, email us here . Just let us know how many are going, the level of flat water canoe paddling experience – paddling down rivers doesn’t count for much. Anybody can be a gravity slave and steer a canoe for 20 miles. You won’t be doing any of that in the Boundary Waters. If we’re going to help plan a route for you, we need to know your flat water experience level. If you don’t have a lot, no worries, we do this all the time and have done so for 30+ years.
So, make your permit reservation and have your credit card ready. They will charge a deposit. Then call us and reserve your canoe for those dates. Then, show up either the day prior to or the day of your permit start day and pick up your actual permit from the government workers at the USFS building on the eastern edge of Ely.
Here is their address and a map I whipped up.
Kawishiwi Ranger District
District Ranger: Gus Smith
1393 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731
(218) 365-7600; TTY
Pick up your permit and head out to us to do the quick paperwork on your canoe rental and down the road we’ll go. We can haul your canoe or you can haul your canoe with foam blocks that we provide for no charge use your own roof rack. In most cases, it is cost and time effective to simply pay us to haul and pick up your rental canoe because we are experts and have the right gear laying on the floor here at all times. No head-scratching about if your tie-job is going to blow off the car at 50 mph with you becoming the proud owner of a $3300 kevlar canoe with severe road rash. We can talk about that when doing your trip routing when you reserve your canoe.
So, if you’ve never been to the BWCA, you’re missing out. Reserving a permit is not very hard. Picking it up is easy. And renting a canoe from us is easier still. Give us a call! 218-365-4512
NEED to KNOW: You must enter the BWCA on the date you’ve reserved. If you miss that entry date, your permit is void and you can’t go in without getting a whole, new permit. Entering the BWCA with your permit means that you CANNOT come and go freely in and out of the BWCA. If you come out of the woods, get in your car and go into Ely for shopping or to check your email as people of today do, you are done with your canoe trip. This is considered a wilderness canoe trip not a stay at a federal campground with an RV. The rules are simple but strict and if you get caught going back and forth, you will be made to leave and you could be fined.
Want to stay in a nice cabin and take BWCA day trips all over the place? No permits required, come and go freely.
Come stay at our wilderness resort! Click Here