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Licenses & Permits – Boundary Waters Canoe Trips


Our best suggestion is to begin your group’s planning discussions in November or December of the year prior to your adventure. Then, communicate your wishes to us, ideally, before mid-January. Know that each entry point is not a free-for-all. For paddlers, entry permits are first come first serve. Popular entry locations and entry dates will go fast and many will be full by early February. For Overnight Motor, and Day use Motor permits you need to apply during the Boundary Waters canoe trips permit lottery in January.

Have Your Plan Well-Underway by mid-January

The earlier you can call Packsack with your preferred entry site and dates, the greater the likelihood we can help ensure you get your first or second choices with the permit lottery managed by the U.S. Forest Service. To minimize congestion or entry bottlenecks, each entry is only allowed a maximum number of permits each day.


Of course, we can help. Just let us know your plans as early as possible.

Boundary Waters canoe trips outfitters.

Boundary Waters Canoe Trips Planning – Getting a Late Start

Let’s say that you missed the opportunity to get our assistance in January and didn’t even think about a BWCA trip until May. Is it too late? The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is that we’ll have to work closely together to understand your ideal dates so we can help choose an entry point that has some remaining permits available. And, of course, we’ll want to understand the objectives of your trip. Do you seek only serenity or are you looking for great fishing? Is it imperative you observe wildlife or do you just want to be able to sip your morning coffee adjacent to a campfire, hearing the loons?


We will do our very best to get the permits necessary to accommodate all your wishes, but can make no guarantees – only offer a commitment to do our best.

Securing Your Own BWCA Entry Permit

We are a Cooperator with the USDA Forest Service under the Superior National Forest. We issue permits into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

  • This business operates within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Superior National Forest.

  • As a Cooperator with the Forest Service, we are an equal opportunity service provider.


BWCAW permits are reserved on a first to come, first to serve basis. Permits can be reserved beginning on the last Wednesday of January (January 31st 2024) all the way through the end of the season (September 30th). When reserving a Boundary Waters permit, you are purchasing a ticket to a specific entry point, or point of entry used to gain access to the wilderness. The Boundary Waters has many options for entry points, all vary in difficulty and experiences. It’s important to get advice on choosing entry points, please lean on us, your outfitter for recommendations on entry points. BWCAW permits (paddle and motorized) are good for 9-people, and 4-watercraft. Groups larger than 9 would need to purchase a separate permit, and remain separate from any other groups, as groups larger than 9 are not permitted to be together in the wilderness at any time.

Packsack is an official Boundary Waters canoe trips permit Issuing Station. WE CAN RESERVE AND ISSUE YOUR PERMIT or you can make the reservation yourself by Visiting this page at by clicking here. Be sure and list Packsack Canoe Trips & Log Cabins as your pickup point.


Permit fees are as follows:

  • Reservation Fee: $6.00 (Nonrefundable)

  • Adult camping fees: $16.00 (one-time fee)

  • Youth camping fees: $8.00 (one-time fee)

  • Packsack reservation fee: $5.00 (no charge for Complete Outfitting or Cabin guests)

  • Issuing fee: $2.00

Any Licenses Needed?

Here are some other licenses you may need to consider before your Boundary Waters canoe trips:


While the region is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the natural resources within are managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. If you choose to fish or hunt, licenses are required and you will need to abide by all laws of the state of Minnesota.

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