QUETICO and BWCA Permit Rules and Camping Rules and Regulations

BWCA permit rules and regulations regarding camping are important.  The same is true for Quetico.  Both parks require that rules and regulations are followed.  Please ask us to help you secure your necessary permits and licenses.

Do I need Travel Permits For BWCA and Quetico?

The BWCA and Quetico parks require a travel permit for entry. The travel permit locks the group into starting on a specific date and entering through a specific entry point.

How big of a group size can I have?

The BWCA permits rules state that up to a group of nine people can travel together on a permit. Additionally, in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness (BWCAW), there is a restriction allowing only four watercraft per permit. And, at no time can more than nine people camp, canoe or portage together. The group size restriction is in place to protect the fragile ecosystem and enhance the visitor’s wilderness experience.

What’s allowed for Food and Beverage Containers?

Any food or beverage items packaged in a can or bottle is prohibited in either wilderness area. So pack accordingly. Food and beverages must be contained within a paper, plastic or foil pouch or carried in a plastic container. Empty plastic food or beverage containers must be packed back out with you. Non-food and beverage items, such as; insect repellent, fuel containers, and toiletry items can be contained with cans or bottles but must be packed back out of the wilderness area.

What’s available for campsites?

Quetico campsites are clearings in the woods and require the traveler to carry a fire grate and latrine shovel with them as they travel. BWCA camping sites will have a cemented-in fire grate and wilderness box latrine located at each USFS approved campsite. The BWCAW approved campsites are the only sites that visitors can legally camp overnight. Visitors can camp up to 14 consecutive days at one site before they must move on to another site. Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it. Pack out all garbage, fishing line, and twist ties.  Please follow the BWCA permits and camping rules.

Are campfires allowed?

There are no restrictions regarding campfires on the Canadian side other than they need to be supervised and under control at all times. The BWCAW requires that campfires occur only within the steel fire grates. In the blowdown area that affects several entry points, there can be additional BWCA fire restrictions. During imposed fire bans, campfires can be partially or completely prohibited. Cooking during those times must be done over a camp stove using propane or liquid fuel. Campfires can only be made from dead and downed trees. Do not strip birch bark from live trees – this kills the tree. Collect firewood away from the campsite. Drown your campfire with plenty of water when you leave, go to bed, or plan to be away from the site. The coals should be cold to the touch when handled. Do not burn trash in the fire. Pack all garbage out.

What’s available for toilet facilities. How’s the water quality?

Each legal BWCA campsite will have a wilderness box latrine. This should be used as the only toilet facilities at BWCA camping sites. Quetico campsites have no latrines. Therefore, the visitor should dig a small hole 6 to 8 inches deep and at least 150 feet from the shoreline. This method of burying human waste should also be used when hiking or portaging through the BWCAW (when campsite latrines are unavailable). Do not use soap products in or near the water’s edge. Also, wash dishes and bathe at least 150 feet from the shoreline. Use biodegradable soaps whenever possible. Bury fish entrails in at least 6 inches of soil well away from the campsite. Dumping fish remains in the water is illegal.

Are there storing watercraft regulations?

Watercraft and equipment cannot be stored in the wilderness area unattended or between canoe trips. All boats, canoes, and equipment must actively be in use and carried out after the end of each trip.

Are boat motors allowed in the BWCA?

Motorboat use is allowed in certain areas of the wilderness. Also, a special motor use permit is required to enter the wilderness in these limited areas.

Are licenses for fishing and possession of fish required?

Fishing licenses are required within either wilderness area. Anyone 16 or older, who chooses to fish in the BWCA, is required to have a license. Individuals 18 years or older choosing to fish are required to purchase a fishing license for the Quetico Park. Make sure you know the fishing regulations.  For instance, barbless hooks are required in Quetico Park.

What’s the limits and possession of fish requirements?

Daily and possession limits do apply within either wilderness. Fish eaten as shore lunch do count towards the total daily possession limits.

Do I need canoe and boat registrations for the BWCA?

All watercraft entering either wilderness must be licensed either in the owner’s home state or in the state of Minnesota.

Do I need a life jacket?

Those traveling by either boat or canoe must have a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket in the watercraft. Also, there must be one life jacket for each person in the watercraft. The life jacket must be readily accessible for use.

Are there different specialty requirements for Quetico Park?

Additionally, for Quetico, you are required to bring a 50-foot floatable rope, a whistle, and a plastic baler.

Contact Us Today for Our Free Canoe Trip Planning DVD

At Williams and Hall, we want you to have an amazing Boundary Waters experience. The links above will get you started but if you’re looking for more from us, we’re glad to help! We have a great DVD that shows how to plan for a great canoe trip to get you started, and if you want us to help gather permits we can do that too! Contact us or Give us a call at 218.365.5837 and let’s start your Boundary Waters Vacation!