BWCA Permit Reservations
One thing nice about the Gunflint Trail entry points into the Boundary Waters is they usually don’t get gobbled up as soon as the lottery opens. Some of our guests don’t even realize there is a lottery for permits since we usually don’t have a problem getting their desired entry point on the desired day of entry. It seems like people are waiting longer and longer to make their vacation plans but if there is anyone who knows their summer schedule by December 1, 2007 then you can apply early.
Beginning fall 2007, the BWCAW lottery has changed the start date for submitting applications. Lottery applications will be accepted beginning December 1, 2007. Over the past few years, lottery applications have been submitted beginning November 1st. This permit reservation process starts when lottery applications are submitted to Reserve America through website, US mail or fax. Due to an overwhelming increase in the number of applications received after January 1st of each year, as well as 95% of our applicants submitting their application via the internet, the need to begin the lottery in early November has significantly decreased.
Applications will continue to be submitted and accepted by mail or fax through the close of business (5:00 p.m. CST) on January 10th. Applications submitted via the website will be accepted through close of business (5:00 p.m. CST) on January 15th. All applications submitted between December 1st and the above periods will be processed by lottery (regardless of the order received).
Some of our guests as well as our staff wait until the last minute to reserve a permit and there is almost always something available. Some times these are the best trips ever because you may not have ever paddled the area if you weren’t forced to. This has happened to me before when the only permit available was for the Crocodile River.
I hung up the phone from talking to the reservation center and got out a map. I thought to myself, "Where in the world is the Crocodile River?" After scouring my maps I finally located it just one portage off of East Bearskin Lake. I looked at the route on the map and since I don’t like to paddle in and out the same way I decided we would exit around the Greenwood Road.
This last minute trip through the Crocodile River turned out to be one of the most memorable ones I have taken. I don’t think I would have paddled that route yet if it hadn’t have been the only one available. Last minute entry points aren’t always bad and this trip provided great scenery, small waterways without waves and no other paddlers. If you have your heart set on a specific date or entry point then I recommend reserving your permit at least a couple of months in advance. If it doesn’t matter where you paddle then you may want to wait longer and see if you’ll be lucky enough to get a Crocodile River permit or some other hidden gem of an entry point.