Picture of Lake Saganaga in the BWCAW of Minnesota

BWCAW Permits

After heading out to shovel snow for the unknown number of times, our minds start thinking of warm temperatures and quiet lakes. We might even miss the low buzz of a million mosquitos as our fingers and toes thaw. Then again, maybe not that but you understand where I am coming from. Even though we enjoy the north country and all it gives us in the winter, our minds do wander to that sand beach campsite on Clove Lake. Or the island on Little Saganaga. Or the clear quiet evening on Esther Lake. Yes, summer can come none too soon.

Let’s get out that pile of maps and start planning. Most of you reading this know that you need reservations if you are entering the BWCAW between May and September. Each entry point has a quota and restrictions in terms of number of boats and number of people. Instead of listing all of the regulations and costs, here is the link to the reservation site. If you are going on a well travelled route, you should make your reservations early. In fact, you can start making them today (January 25th), at 9:00 a.m. central time.

I want to point out a few things that sometimes get confusing. First of all, you can designate where you want to pick up your permit. There are many issuing stations throughout Cook County, Stone Harbor being one. Secondly, the permits need to be picked up during business hours. (In the summer, Stone Harbor, is open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays.)  Also, you can designate the Forest Service office in Grand Marais or Tofte as your pick up point but then you must pick it up there. Their hours are not as attractive as many of the shops, so plan accordingly. And be aware that at all locations you need to watch a Forest Service movie that takes about 30 minutes, so give yourself time.

One last point: if your trip includes paddling into Quetico, read up on their regulations. Anglers, in particular, should know that lead tackle or barbed hooks are not allowed.

There you go with some thoughts. Meanwhile, enjoy these winter evenings and plan, plan, plan. Personally, I think that is almost as much fun as the trip. I said almost.

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