Book your BWCA permit today
While the weather may delay this year’s start to the Boundary Waters canoe camping season it doesn’t mean you should delay reserving your permit. The BWCAW has become increasingly popular over the past two summers and people are flocking to the canoe country in higher numbers than in the past. When you combine an increase in visitor numbers with a drastic reduction in overnight permits for Saganaga and Seagull Lakes you get a result we aren’t used to at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. It’s only April and we’re already seeing a lack of available BWCA entry point permits for numerous days this coming summer.
We had been lucky on the Gunflint Trail and rarely experienced the lack of BWCA permits. Folks could practically wait until the week of their trip to decide which entry point they wanted to go in at. I could always obtain a Saganaga Lake only permit for a quick last minute trip into the Boundary Waters. That isn’t the case this year. The USFS took away all of the Seagull Lake only and Sag Lake only permits and reduced the number of overall permits for those lakes so there are already days this summer when there are no permits available for either of those entry points.
This means you need to plan ahead and reserve your BWCA permit sooner rather than later. It also means you should have a second choice of entry points and/or of days that you can enter to increase your chances of obtaining a permit. Check out the screen shot of BWCA permit availability for the first week of August, it makes me sad.
PLEASE do everyone a favor and only reserve one permit for the day you actually plan to enter the BWCA. Some people have been known to reserve multiple permits for multiple entry points or days and then decide what day to enter based upon the weather forecast and which entry point to use based upon a flip of a coin. Also, PLEASE cancel your permit if you aren’t going to be able to use it. Some people just forget about cancelling their permit because the fee isn’t that expensive and this prevents folks who really want to go on a BWCA canoe trip from being able to reserve a permit. As soon as you know you can’t use your permit, cancel it so someone else can enjoy the BWCA. And lastly, if you can’t get a permit to enter on the day or entry point you want, don’t just enter without one. This causes overcrowding and can negatively impact someone else’s trip and the valuable resource of the Boundary Waters itself.
I wish our permits at the end of the Gunflint Trail hadn’t been cut by 30% but they have been. We’re hoping the USFS will discuss this situation with us as Cooperators but they have not been willing to do so yet. They have said there will be a meeting, they just haven’t told us when. We are stuck with the number of permits we have been given and we need to make the most of it. IF you are lucky enough to get a BWCA permit spend as many days out in the wilderness as you can.
Feel free to call us at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters for help in reserving your permit or to discuss alternate options for your wilderness trip. 218-388-2224