Canoe Country Wilderness Canoeing
by © Lee Hegstrand


Boundary Waters, Quetico Reservations and Regulations

Both Minnesota and Ontario charge for fishing licenses.Quetico Bass Quetico also requires a $9.00 Outdoors Card (good for three years) to get a license. An 8 day conservation license is $23.00. No live bait or barbed hooks are allowed in Quetico.

Reservations and fees: (updated for 2010)

Quetico's reservation fee is CN$12.00 plus a $100 deposit. Camping fees per night for non-resident adults are $15.00 for northern entries, $21.50 for Cache Bay, Prairie Portage & Kings Point and $17.00 for Lac La Croix. Children and residents are less expensive.

For those entering Quetico from the US via boat/canoe a Remote Area Border Crossing Permit (RABC) is required (CN$30) as those border route custom stations are now closed. An RABC is good for one year. Call (807) 624-2162 or visit www.cic.gc.ca at least six weeks before departure to obtain one.

BWCAW permit fees are $12.00 per group. There is no charge in the BWCAW for camping but there is a one-time user fee of $16 per adult and $8 for youth 17 or under that covers trips of any length. Your canoe must be registered (from any state) in order to paddle it in Minnesota. All campsites in the BWCAW are designated by fire grates and open latrines and you are not allowed to camp anywhere else.

This is not true for Quetico. Maximum group size in both Quetico and BWCAW is nine. In the BWCAW the maximum number of watercraft per party is four (there is presently no craft limit in Quetico) and these limits apply everywhere: on portages, lakes and campsites. Those who fail to observe these rules can be arrested and fined.Don't cut down trees! All entry points in both Quetico and the BWCAW have daily quotas to disperse usage. Contact the U.S. Forest Service before February 1 by phoning (800) 745-3399 or mail-ins accepted beginning December 1 to: BWCAW Reservation Office, P.O. Box 462, Ballston Spa, NY, 12020. Between February 1 and September 30 reservations may be obtained by calling toll free (877) 550-6777 or visit the reservation web site at www.bwcaw.org. There are no entry point reservations required from October 1 to April 30. Entry point reservations can also be made at any of the outfitters if you at least partially outfit with them.
More Boundary Waters reservation information
Boundary Waters forum

Reservations to Quetico can be made by calling toll free (888) 668-7275 year around but may be made no earlier than 5 months before your departure date. Thus it is important to ensure that you lock in your desired entry point to Quetico by making reservations exactly 5 months prior to your entry point departure date. General questions for canoeing in Quetico may be addressed at (807) 597-2735. The highest travel demands in the Canoe Country are in July and August so plan to make your reservations especially early during these months.
Quetico reservation quota info.
Ranger station and entry point locations map
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area permit video (Short, 9:32 version)
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permit video (Long, 24:03 version - for les experienced canoeists.)

So, those entering from Minnesota to a Quetico entry point and fish with your own canoe will need: 1.) an RABC, 2.) your canoe licensed, 3.) a self-registered BWCAW day-use permit for that portion you travel in the BWCAW, 4.) a Quetico entry permit and 5.) a Canadian fishing license (a "Conservation License" can be purchased at your Quetico check-in point with at a cost of CN$23 for 7 days)!

The great July fourth, 1999, wind storm devastated over one-third of the BWCAW. The damage to portages and campsites has been cleaned-up but there is concern about potential fire and dead-fall dangers due to the massive downed timber. Travelers to the affected area should be aware of this and be vigilant of incipient fires. The area of greatest destruction, with nearly all trees blown down, is a four to twelve mile wide swath roughly running from Moose Lake, east of Ely, paralleling the border to Saganaga Lake and the Gunflint Trail. You may contact the U.S. Forest Service at (218) 626-4300 for advice in addition to the information you will get with your entry point confirmation.

The BWCAW has nearly 250,000 visits (about 100,000 of which are overnight trippers) and the Quetico has another 25,000 visits each season. Note that the BWCAW and Quetico are each about one million acres in size (together they form an area equal to three Rhode Islands) yet the BWCAW has about ten times more usage. There are over 1000 lakes in the BWCAW and about 450 in Quetico. The BWCAW is the largest wilderness area east of the Rockies with the exception of the Everglades. Ten percent of all wilderness treks in the contiguous 48 states occur in the BWCAW; the Canoe Country is being over-loved. Take great care to do your part to preserve this great land! May you be just as inspired with it as were the great writer/philosophers Sigurd Olson and Aldo Leopold!

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