Get Your Permit
If you would like to camp in Mount Rainier's wilderness you will need a wilderness permit. It is recommended that you make a reservation to secure a permit. Your wilderness permit reserves you a specific wilderness camping site for the night you want to stay. Mount Rainier National Park has thousands of visitors during the peak summer months and backcountry camping sites can fill up quickly. About 70 percent of the available wilderness permits can be reserved while the remaining 30 percent are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
How to Reserve a Wilderness Permit
First, download and complete the Wilderness Reservation Request Form.
Requests received in March, April and May could take up to six weeks to process because of the large number of applications. During this initial two week period (March 15-31) the park will receive around 1,400 or more reservation requests. Each one is processed by hand with usually only 2 rangers assigned to this duty. It will be well into May before this initial batch of reservation requests are completed. This means you may not get a reply from the park for some weeks, depending on when your request is processed. As the season goes on and the initial pile of requests are whittled down, the park is able to process and reply to reservation requests in 1-2 days.
If your reservation request is successfully processed you will receive a confirmation letter that shows your itinerary. Please note that this confirmation letter is NOT your permit. You must come into a Ranger Station to get your permit. If we are not able to process you reservation request you will receive a letter stating why, and what your options are. If we cannot book a reservation for you, you will not be charged a reservation fee.
What you need to pick up your permit
Also, please note that your reservations will be canceled by the park if you do not show up by 10:00 a.m. on the day your trip begins. If you will be later than 10:00 a.m. you need to let the park know in advance. Once canceled, the camps you had reserved become part of the first-come, first-served pool of permits that other hikers will have the opportunity to use.
Wilderness Permit Reservation Fee
How to Acquire a First-come, First-served Permit
The first-come, first-served permit was not available when I tried to get it.
Scenario 1: Other parties may have gotten the permits before you that very same day (or one day before) from any Ranger Station in the park.
Scenario 2: Let's say you want Summerland on the night of July 15. You show up at a Ranger Station that has the earliest opening hours only to find the permits are gone. How is this possible?
Find a Ranger Station
In the summer, Ranger Stations where you can acquire permits are:
In the winter, permits are available at the Longmire Information Center every day and the Jackson Visitor Center on weekends. Self-registration is available at the Carbon River Ranger Station, Ohanapecosh Ranger Station, and at the Highway 410 entrance arch at the park's north boundary. Learn more about winter camping.
Most Ranger Stations are open seasonally, so make sure to check their hours of operation.
Did You Know?
Carbon Glacier, on the north side of Mount Rainier, comes to the lowest elevation of any glacier in the lower 48 states at 3500 feet. It is also Mount Rainier's thickest glacier, one section being nearly 700 feet thick.