Planning to paddle the Boundary Waters the summer? Get in line. The reservation system used to issue permits to the BWCA Wilderness (BWCAW) failed in February, leaving canoeists in limbo about obtaining a paddling permit for the area.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) runs the recreation.gov permit reservation system that crashed on January 30, shortly after opening. USFS officials anticipate reopening the process on February 27 after fixing technical problems in the BWCAW sale software and conducting additional testing.
Despite the crash of the permit system, Ely area outfitters, resorts and businesses are open for business and stand by to help vacationers obtain the correct permits. “For some people, this may be a blessing in disguise,” says Ginny Nelson, President of the Ely Area Tourism Bureau. “For those who haven’t started planning their Ely getaway, or missed the opening of the permitting process, there’s still time to get a great date.” Or, she added, “Just call an outfitter or resort and let them do it for you.”
There’s no word on why the permitting system failed, but Ely officials are hopeful that the USFS can make the needed repairs in time for the February 27 relaunch. “Lasting memories are made in Ely and the BWCAW,” said Mayor Novak. “This unfortunate delay won’t be the lasting memory of 2019.”
Ely, MN, just a four-hour drive from the Twin Cities, was named “Coolest Small Town in America” by Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, several years ago. In October, 2017, National Geographic named Ely as one of just eight world-wide destinations for “World’s Best Towns for Outdoor Thrills.” Also in 2017 Expedia named Ely as one of “20 Places to Find America’s Best Sunsets.” This gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is known for its miles and miles of pure, unspoiled beauty, as well as its sense of humor (especially at this time of year). For more information, visit www.ely.org, find us on Twitter and Instagram at #VisitElyMN or at Facebook/VisitElyMN