Northern Wilds Magazine

Boundary Waters Quota Permits for the 2021 season

DULUTH—The Superior National Forest has updated the quota permit issuance process for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for the 2021 season. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the USDA Forest Service will offer alternatives to issuing permits in-person and will conduct a “virtual” Leave No Trace (LNT) education program.

Last season saw unprecedented visitation to the BWCAW and along with that an unacceptably high amount of resource damage, including cutting of live trees, human waste not being properly disposed, trash left in campfire rings, disruptive and oversized groups, and campfires left unattended.

To ensure visitors new to wilderness understand and follow BWCAW regulations and Leave No Trace Principles, we have adopted new methods of delivering this information. It takes a commitment from everyone visiting these treasured lands to ensure that the lakes, waterways and forests of the BWCAW are protected against resource damage, so the wilderness character is preserved for future generations.

All permit holders are required to watch three LNT education videos and review the BWCAW Regulations and Rules prior to receiving their permit. Permit holders are required to watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the series prior to the final step to securing their permit. Video links are emailed to permit holders at the time of reservation and two weeks prior to their entry date. An additional resource to plan for a successful trip is the BWCAW Trip Planning Guide.

Check the Cooperators tab online ( before securing a permit to see which issue stations are issuing permits in-person or virtually. Permit holders who select a cooperator issuing permits in-person will be required to watch the final LNT education video and review the BWCAW Regulations and Rules prior to receiving their permit. Permit holders with permits listed at issue stations operating virtually will be e-mailed their permit by the Forest Service after completing required virtual LNT education online. If a permit holder does not have access to the internet, they must call the Forest Service to complete the LNT education requirement.

More information about the virtual Leave No Trace program will be available prior to the BWCAW on-sale.

BWCAW quota permit reservations for the 2021 season are available on Wednesday, January 27. Visitors are encouraged to book their reservations for May 1 through September 30 online ( or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

For more information on travel in this area and all visitor updates, visit:

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