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The need to know on 2020 BWCAW permits

Permits, Permits, Permits!

It’s that time of year to start thinking about your 2020 Paddle, Day Use Motor, or Overnight Motor permits!

Despite some requests for the return of the lottery, the reservation process will be the same as it was last year. First come, first serve basis. This year’s “Go Live” date will be on Wednesday, January 29th at 9:00 am CST. The website used to reserve permits will again be:, If you prefer to reserve permits by phone, the phone number will be: (877) 444-6777.

SO just like last year, we expect that the popular Basswood Day Use Motor and Overnight Motor permits will likely all be reserved within the first 30 minutes that they become available on that day. If you are wanting one of these permits and have the ability to reserve your own permits, we suggest you do so as this will greatly increase your chances of obtaining your desired permit. We as a cooperator truly do not like having to make this recommendation, as this is a service we had been able to provide for our customers since the beginning of the permit system in 1978, and it comes with great frustration that the Forest Service has put us in this disadvantage. We will still happily attempt to make any reservations for you, just know that doing it your self will give you the best chances.

As some of you may remember from last year’s “Go Live” date of the new U.S. Forest Service website (, failed and crashed just 30 seconds after 9:00 am. A second “Go Live” was then successfully executed two months later on March 4th. We do not expect the website to crash this year. The Forest Service has been busy working with Cooperators to better the system, and also more of these “Go Live” events have been successful throughout the country.

Please find below some tips that will help you become successful on Wednesday, January 29th:

1. Log on to before the “Go Live” date and set up your account. This way on the 29th at 9:00 am, you just need to be logged in and you will be ready to buy permits. Log on to the website, go to the top right of the page, and select the “Sign Up” tab. You will then be prompted to enter the information needed to create an account and reserve permits. Information needed will be: name, address, phone number, and email address.

2. Once signed up, look around and familiarize your self on, how to find BWCAW permits. Once logged in, scroll down and select the “permits” tab. This will take you to a page with many options for parks. Enter BWCAW into the search menu, and you are where you need to be. Note: Permit reservations will be closed until 9:00 am on January 29th.

3. Know what permit you are needing to buy. There are different options for BWCAW permits. If you are wanting a paddle permit, be sure to choose the correct entry point. If you are buying motor permits, then be sure it’s the correct permit. For example, Fall Lake Day Use Permits are split into two categories, “Day Use Fall Lake and Beyond”, and “Day Use Fall Lake Only”. If you are wanting to portage into Basswood, then you need FALL Lake and BEYOND. Same goes for Moose Lake permits, if you are wanting to portage into Basswood, you need a Moose Lake Prairie Portage permit. There is also a difference between Overnight Motor permits and the Day Use ones. Make sure that you have the correct permit selected before adding them to your shopping cart. If you are not sure what permit to buy, please contact us before the “Go Live” date to discuss your options.

4. Be signed in and ready at 9:00 am on that Wednesday, January 29th. Have your coffee brewed and all of your dates/payment information in front of you. Last year, folks logged on at 20 minutes after 9:00 and were surprised to find the permits for their dates were gone. We expect permits to go as fast!

5. Use your shopping cart! You may add multiple permits in your basket before checking out. This will save you time if needing multiple day use permits. Note: Last year, after adding a permit to your basket, the website would take you to the default screen of paddle permits. If purchasing multiple permits, make sure you are purchasing the correct permits.

6. Take your time and double check your work. Make sure the dates are correct, and that the permit is the one you want before checking out. If adding an alternative, make sure to check the box that says alternative, not group member.

7. Alternates are not mandatory on a permit, but are strongly advised! You may add more than 1 alternate to a permit, if purchasing an Overnight permit paddle or motor, than you will be charged the $16.00 camping fees of each member of your party that you add. Again, be sure to check the box that indicates this person is an Alternate. *The Alternate cannot be added at a later date.

8. PLEASE Do Not buy more permits than you need! Last summer there were still over 100 Fall Lake and Beyond Day Use Motor permits that went unused, and over 60 Moose Lake Day Use Permits. If more than 1 person in your group is buying permits, and at the end of the day you have more than your group needs…PLEASE CANCEL YOUR EXTRAS! And, if the dates that you wanted are all gone, check back often with the website for any canceled permits. Permits are released back into the system randomly after 12 hours from the time of cancellation.

We are very excited to begin working with you on your 2020 Packsack adventure. We want to make sure everyone gets taken care of this summer. So please let us know if you are reserving them yourself, or having us reserve them for you. Be on the lookout for future emails or Facebook posts with more information regarding the reservation process.

Let your 2020 planning begin!!

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