Northwoods Memories Multimedia Productions


For Future Paddlers, Set Your Trip Dates Now!

Sunday, December 14th, 2008
submitted by: Bob Evans

Folks who have not been to canoe country ask us many questions about planning a trip.  Invariably, we answer their question, and quickly add, “Figure out the dates of your trip and contact your outfitter with those dates as soon as possible.”  We addressed the idea of finding an outfitter and what they can do for you in an earlier post.  Now we must address the “dates” issue.

Permits are required for entry into both Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in northeastern Minnesota.  Both areas are controlled entry, meaning that only a specific number of permits are allowed per day into each entry point.  Additionally, there are a maximum number of canoes and people allowed under each permit.  Outfitters are experts at handling this information.  But they cannot begin to help you until they know the date you will arrive at their base, and the date you want to go out on the trail.  The most important thing for you to realize in this process is that “the early bird gets the worm.”

Many factors enter your choice of dates for your trip.  Among them might be summer vacation from school, available vacation time at your place of employment, other summer plans, the schedules of people traveling with you, and many more.  These factors you can address on your own.  Other factors might be the weather changes in canoe country across the summer, seasonal fishing changes, wildlife activity, and availability of lodging before and after your trip.  Your outfitter can help you with all of these.  If you need to discuss things like these last few, contact your outfitter early for that discussion.

You will get the most satisfactory results if you have dates set with your outfitter during the wintertime.  Later will work, but early is better.  Call your outfitter early and identify yourself as folks who have not made a previous canoe trip into canoe country.  Our experience in visiting many outfitters is that they are all eager to help those planning a first trip.  They know that if they do a good job helping you, you are likely to outfit through them again.  In that very first discussion have a good idea of when you want to go on your trip.  You can modify your dates if needed, but you will need a starting place early in the game.

Here’s the scoop:

For the Boundary Waters (BWCAW) in the U.S.:

  • On January 16th a lottery drawing is held for all permit applications submitted up to that time.
  • Permit applications submitted between December 1 and January 15 are included in this lottery.
  • All permit applications submitted 12/1 to 1/15 have an equal chance in that drawing.
  • Beginning January 20, permits can be had “real time” for the rest of the summer.
  • There is a non-refundable reservation fee attached ($12.00).

For Quetico Provincial Park in Canada:

  • Permit can be reserved exactly 5 months from the day of the permit.
  • As of now, Quetico requires a $100.00 deposit that applies to your camp fee.
  • There is a non-refundable schedule that changes with time passage toward your permit date

Sound complicated?  It can be.  That is why you use an outfitter to help.  But the point to note now, is that the most competitive entry points on the most competitive dates start becoming available now with the BWCA lottery, and the May dates in Quetico are now available.  If you want to make a canoe trip this coming summer, if you can set the dates of that trip now, it will make your chances of getting a good permit for those dates much better.   Does that mean that if you can’t set your dates now you will not be able to make a trip?  No.  Outfitters are very good at  working out these details with you.  But the sooner you set dates the better.

Next part coming:  Q & A for future paddlers.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply