About the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA)

Enjoy the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area MapGreat glaciers carved the physical features of what is today known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota by scraping and gouging rock. The glaciers left behind rugged cliffs and crags, canyons, gentle hills, towering rock formations, rocky shores, sandy beaches and several thousands lakes and streams, interspersed with islands and surrounded by forest.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, located in Minnesota is a unique area located in the northern third of the Superior National Forest. Over one million acres in size, it extends nearly 150 miles along the international border adjacent to Canada's Quetico Provincial Park and is bordered on the west by Voyageurs National Park. The BWCAW contains 1175 lakes varying in size from 10 acres to 10,000 acres, over 1200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2,000 designated campsites. The BWCAW contains the largest contiguous areas of uncut forest remaining in the eastern United States.

The BWCAW is the most heavily used wilderness in the country with approximately 250,000 visitors annually. Though it represents less than one percent of the acreage of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), but receives 10% of the use in the entire NWPS. BWCA permits are required to canoe or camp in the Boundary Waters. Click here for more information on BWCA permits.

The BWCAW is a Class I air quality area as defined by the Federal Clean Air Act. It is the only wilderness in the country that has an airspace reservation that prohibits flights below 4,000 feet.

Wilderness offers freedom to those who wish to pursue an experience of expansive solitude, challenge and personal integration with Nature.

Click here to learn about Boundary Waters Canoe Area History