PO Box 397
12007 River Point Road
Ely, Minnesota 55731


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Global Position

N 47°  47.996'
W 091°  46.596'

Elevation at River Point's Marina on Birch Lake:  1455' MSL

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

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woodpecker by treeBWCA Deer
BWCA Fees and Regulations enhance opportunities to view nature's creatures

BWCA Fees and Regulations

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness-BWCAW


Rules and Regulations


BWCA Fees and regulations help make the Boundary Waters a special place.

River Point Outfitting Co. is a Cooperator with the USDA Forest Service under the Superior National Forest of Minnesota. We issue permits into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), which is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The following USFS Permit Reservation and User Fees apply:

  • USFS Travel Permit Fee: $6 for up to a group of 9 persons.
  • USFS User Fees:
    Apply to all BWCAW overnight visitors
    Adult: $16
    Youth 0-17: $8

           Interagency Senior/Access Pass Holders:  $8.00
           Interagency Youth/Access pass Holders:  $4.00

  • In addition to the USFS Permit and User Fees, River Point Outfitting Co. charges a permit handling fee of $8 for completely outfitted groups; $11 for partially outfitted groups

BWCA Seasonal Fee Card

The purchase of a BWCAW Seasonal Fee Card fulfills the User Fee requirements for the season, but does not eliminate the need for obtaining a BWCAW permit. For reserved permits, it does not eliminate the need to pay the $6.00 Reservation Fee and User Fee deposit. Seasonal Fee Cards may be purchased in person after May 1 from any Forest Service Office.

Seasonal Fee Card Costs per Person:

  • Adult:  $64.00
  • Child/Youth 0-17:  $32.00
  • Interagency Senior/Access Pass Holders:  $32.00
  • Interagency Youth/Access Pass Holders:  $16.00

To increase the chance of securing a permit, please be flexible by selecting more than one starting date and entry point for your BWCA canoe trip. However, you need not know what entry point to choose, as we can select an entry point for your group.

USFS Travel Permit Fee is neither refundable nor applicable to a future trip. The entire USFS User Fee will be refunded if a reservation is cancelled two or more days prior to the entry date.

Travel Permit Reservations:

All permit reservations are made on a first come, first serve basis. The online USFS Permit Reservation System opens each year during the last week of January. Reservations made with River Point prior to January for the next canoeing season, will allow us to purchaase your travel permit the day that the online system opens.

Of course, permits can be secured at any time, and we are here to help with all the preplanning and to reserve the permit for you. But, for best choices of entry dates and entry points, try to plan early so that the permit can be purchased earlier, rather than later.

To preserve the wilderness, visitors to the BWCAW must follow certain regulations:


  • You must enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness at the entry point and on the date shown on your permit.
  • You may not enter/re-enter at a different point or date using this permit.
  • Permit and stubs become invalid when the trip leader exits the wilderness.

A quota system that allows only a specific number of people into the canoe country each day at each entry point is in effect, and weekend permits are more popular.

  • 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 your impact. Larger groups will need additional permits and must camp at more than one campsite.


  • 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 items allowed in their original containers.
  • Food may be packaged in plastic containers that must be packed out at the end of the trip.


  • 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.
  • All members of a permit group must camp together at one site.
  • You may camp up to fourteen (14) consecutive days on a specific site.
  • After you break camp check to make sure everything is packed up and your campsite is clear of litter.


  • Fires are allowed within the steel fire grates at designated campsites unless campfire restrictions are in place.
  • If there are restrictions you may be required to use a camp stove. (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.)
  • When building a fire, use only dead wood found lying on the ground. Collect firewood away from campsites, portages, and shorelines to prevent enlarging and defacing these area. Wood easily broken by hand or cut with a small folding saw eliminates the need for an axe.
  • Do not bring wood from home or out of state.
  • It is illegal to cut live vegetation for any reason.
  • It is illegal to burn trash. Make sure it is packed out with you.
  • Drown your fire with water anytime 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.


  • Leave archaeological, historical, and rock painting sites undisturbed.
  • The use of metal detectors is prohibited.


  • Use latrines at designated campsites.
  • Latrines are not garbage cans and should be used for the intended purpose only.
  • 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 water sources (lakes, streams, rivers, marshes).
  • All soaps pollute water including soaps labeled "biodegradable."


  • Dispose of fish remains by traveling well away from shorelines, campsites, trails and portages.
  • Pack out live bait and other food leftovers at the end of the trip.


  • Dogs impact wildlife and barking intrudes on the experience of others. Dogs must be in control at all times.
  • Dispose of fecal matter 150 feet away from water sources, campsites, portages, or deposit in a latrine.


  • Discharging a firearm is prohibited within 150 yards of a campsite, occupied area, and in a manner or location that places people and their property at risk or danger.
  • State game laws apply in the BWCAW.
  • Fireworks of any kind are illegal.

Only watercraft and equipment used in connection with your current visit may be stored and left unattended until you leave the BWCAW.

All equipment and personal property must be carried out with you at the end of each trip.


  • Motorized watercraft meeting specific horsepower limitations are allowed on designated routes and lakes only. No other motorized or mechanized equipment (including pontoon boats, sailboats, sailboards, ATVS, etc.) is allowed.
  • Motors may not be used or be in possession on any paddle-only lake.
  • Portage wheels or 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.

Canoeing the BWCA-following the rules and regulations

Motor-powered watercraft are permitted only on the following designated lakes:

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: Clearwater, North Fowl, South Fowl, Seagull (no motors generally west of Three Mile Island), Sections of Island River within the BWCAW.

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), Fall, Newton, Moose, Newfound, Sucker, Snowbank, East Bearskin, South Farm, Trout

Little Vermilion, Loon, Lac La Croix (not beyond the south end of Snow Bay in the U.S.A.), Loon River.

All of the above are enforceable United States Forest Service regulations.

When leaving your campsite, leave no trace that you were there: eat it, burn it or carry it out. Sift through the ashes in your fire pit for twist ties, foil and other debris not completely burned. Pack them in your litter bag, along with cigarette butts and other trash, and carry it out. If you happen to see trash along your way please pick it up and carry it out also. Always try to leave an area cleaner than when you got there.

Protect this special place for future generations.

In addition, if you will fish, Minnesota requires a license:

Anyone 16 years of age or older who chooses to fish in the BWCAW is required to have a license. Fish eaten as part of shore lunch count towards daily fish possession limits.

BWCA Fees and Regulations-Rules for Boundary Waters-BWCAW-Ely Minnesota


...Paddle the Quiet Side®...

 River Point Outfitting Co. 

Ely, Minnesota

If you would like more information, or you are ready to make a reservation, please use our on-line form, send us an e-mail or call 1-800-456-5580

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