Boundary Waters Rules & Regulations
U.S. Travel Permits and Camping Regulations
2023 BWCAW Permit info:
· Group leaders (permit holders) are required to have a valid email address to reserve a permit.
· Each alternate permit holder is required to have a valid email address to be listed as an intended alternate at time of reservation.
· Alternates must respond to the recreation.gov email sent at the time of reservation and accept being an alternate within 72 hours of reservation, or the permit will not have alternates.
· If an alternate does not have a recreation.gov account, they will be required to create one at verification when they respond and accept being an alternate. Alternates can log on to www.recreation.gov and create their account any time prior to a reservation.
· All participant names must be entered for the permit to print at issuance. Participant names may be added to a reservation any time prior to the permit pick-up.
· For reservations made by a Cooperator, permit holders will receive a copy of the confirmation email.
· The new platform has stronger security controls, better protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and increased fraud protection. Recreation.gov will no longer store credit card information.
Nine (9) people and four (4) watercraft are the maximum allowed together in the wilderness.
You may not exceed the limit at any time or anywhere (on water, portages, campsites) in the BWCAW.
Smaller groups increase your wilderness experience and decrease the impacts.
TOILET FACILITIES AND WATER QUALITY
Use latrines at designated campsites.
Latrines are not garbage cans and should be used for the intended purpose only. Personal waste items such as cigarettes, cotton swabs, or plastic feminine products should always be packed out and should never go into the latrines.
If you’re not near a latrine, dig a small hole 6 to 8 inches deep at least 150 feet or more back from the water’s edge. When finished, fill hole and cover with needles and leaves.
Bathe and wash dishes at least 150 feet from lakes and streams.
All soaps pollute water including soaps labeled “biodegradable.” The setback is 200 feet.
Cans and glass bottles are not allowed.
Containers of fuel, insect repellent, medicines, personal toilet articles, and other items that are not foods or beverages are the only cans and bottles you may keep in their original containers.
Food may be packaged in plastic containers that must be packed out with you.
Dispose of fish remain well away from shorelines, campsites, trails and portages.
Fires are allowed within the steel fire grates at designated campsites or as specifically approved on your visitor’s permit.
Bringing a small camp stove may be a better idea because it heats food more quickly, has less impact than a fire, and comes in handy during rainy weather.
Due to the potential fire danger, fire restrictions may be put into effect. Check on current conditions just prior to your trip. You may be required to use a camp stove if there is a campfire ban.
If you build a fire, burn only dead wood found lying on the ground.
Collect firewood away from campsites by paddling down the shore and walking into the woods where it is more abundant.
Wood easily broken by hand or cut with a small folding saw eliminates the need for an axe.
Drown your fire with water any time you are going to be away from your camp or at bedtime. Stir the ashes until they are cold to the touch with a bare hand.
Camp only at Forest Service designated campsites that have steel fire grates and wilderness latrines.
Make camp early in the day to ensure finding an available campsite.
It is illegal to cut live vegetation for any reason.
You may camp up to fourteen (14) consecutive days on a specific site.
Only watercraft and equipment used in connection with your current visit may be stored and left unattended.
All equipment and personal property must be carried out with you at the end of each trip.
Leave archaeological, historical, and rock painting sites undisturbed.
The use of metal detectors is prohibited.
MOTOR-POWERED WATERCRAFT REGULATIONS
No other motorized or mechanized equipment (including pontoon boats, sailboats, sailboards) is allowed. All other lakes or portions of lakes within the BWCAW are paddle-only. Motors may not be used or be in possession on any paddle-only lake. Motor-powered watercraft are permitted only on following designated lakes:
LAKES WITH A 10 HORSEPOWER LIMIT
On these lakes, the possession of one additional motor no greater than 6 horsepower is permitted, as long as motors in use do not exceed 10 horsepower.
Seagull (no motors generally west of Three Mile Island)
Sections of Island River within the BWCAW.
LAKES WITH A 25 HORSEPOWER LIMIT
On these lakes or portions of these lakes, the possession of one additional motor no greater than 10 horsepower is permitted, as long as motors in use do not exceed 25 horsepower.
Basswood (except that portion north of Jackfish Bay and Washington Island)
Saganaga (except that portion west of American Point).
LAKES WITH NO HORSEPOWER LIMITS
Lac La Croix (not beyond the south end of Snow Bay in the U.S.A.)
Mechanical assistance is only permitted over the following: International Boundary, Four-Mile Portage, Fall-Newton-Pipestone and Back Bay Portages into Basswood Lake, Prairie Portage, Vermilion-Trout Lake Portage.