What is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?
The Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness(BWCA) is a federally designated wilderness preserve. Joined by the Quetico Provincial Park, the boundary waters area has 2.3 million acres and 1,600 lakes of pristine, non-motorized wilderness that is primarily accessed by canoes. On the U.S. side alone there are 2,200 designated campsites that are used by people who go on multiple day trips.
Can I bring my own motorboat and how far down Clearwater Lake can I it?
Yes, you can bring your own motorboat and take it down the length of Clearwater Lake as long as it has a motor size under 10 horsepower. The first 1.5 miles of the lake are outside the BWCA and this is the only part of the lake you can use a motor that is larger than 9.9 horsepower. All of the motorboats available for rent are allowed down the entire length of the lake.
Do I need a permit to use a boat in the Boundary Waters?
Yes, and no. If you are bringing your personal motorboat you will need a day use motor permit which can be obtained in person at the main lodge, or in advance from recreation.gov. If you are renting one of our motorboats you do not need a day use motor permit as our boats are exempt.
Can I bring my own canoe or kayak?
Do I need to register my motorboat, canoe or kayak in Minnesota if I am bringing it from out of state?
No, any watercraft that is currently registered in another state and not kept in Minnesota for more than 90 consecutive days is exempt from registering with the Department of Natural Resources.
Do I need a permit to take a day trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area?
Yes, whether it is on foot, or on the water day use permits are required to enter the BWCA. These permits are free and can be filled out in our main lodge and at most entry points.
How many people are allowed on BWCA permits?
Whether it is for the day or overnight the maximum number of people allowed on a permit is 9.
Do I need a permit to camp out overnight in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area?
Yes, but the U.S. Forest Service regulates the number of people who enter the BWCA by issuing permits. To get a permit you need to choose an entry date and an entry point. Each permit is good for up to 9 people and costs $16 per adult and $8 per youth under 18 and each entry point has a limited number of permits that can be issued. There is an additional $6 (Forest Service) processing fee per group. Permits can be obtained by an individual or by a licensed Forest Service Cooperator. Clearwater BWCA Outfitters is a licensed cooperator with the Forest Service. Permits obtained by Clearwater BWCA Outfitters must be picked up at the lodge. If you would like to secure your own permit visit recreation.gov.
How do I know which entry point to choose?
This depends on the kind of trip you want to take. Here is a list of the entry points we service and a little bit of information about each of them.
When is the best time to visit the Boundary Waters?
The best time of year is different for everybody and depends on the kind of trip you would like to take. Here is something to help you decide though: What Time of Year is Best?
Do I need to reserve a BWCA campsite?
No, all of the campsites in the Boundary Waters are available on a first-come first-served basis.
What is a portage and how long is a rod?
Portages in the BWCA are paths that connect two lakes. Some are more rugged than others and they all very length with few of them over one mile. Portages are measured in rods. A rod is 16.5 feet, or roughly the length of a canoe. There are 320 rods in one mile.
Are dogs allowed in the BWCA?
Yes, as long as they are under control while on portages and are cleaned up after.