Backcountry Reservations

A group looks over a map of the park
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Photo courtesy of North Cascades Institute.

Reservation Policies

North Cascades National Park Service Complex continues its pilot program for advance reservations. Reservations can be made for up to 60 percent of the park backcountry camp capacity (the remaining 40 percent are set aside for walk-up permits):

Stock Parties - Stock parties must submit applications by March 24 in order to receive priority at stock camps. If there are no stock reservation requests, these sites may be allocated to hiker or boater parties. After March 24, all reservations are processed in the order received.

Timeline - Reservations can be submitted from March 15 to April 15 for camping between the dates of May 15 through September 30. If a hike or climb begins before or after these dates, or you plan to visit a non-reservable area of the park, a first-come, first-serve walk-up permit must be obtained in person at a park visitor or information center. Visit the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount for assistance with trip planning.

Converting a Reservation to a Permit - Advance reservations must be converted to a backcountry permit before the start of the trip. Reservations can be picked up at the park station closest to point of entry, and must be picked up by 11 am of the trip start date, or the reservation will be cancelled and the sites made available to other visitors.


Application Process

Review the following resources before submitting a reservation application:
Wilderness Trip Planner and Map
Backcountry Permits
Boating on Ross Lake and Ross Lake Map
Camping in Stehekin
Climbing Page
List of Reservable Camps and Capacities

Backcountry Conditions
Some areas are snow covered until early or mid-July! Be aware of potential hazards. If in doubt, wait to visit these areas until later in the season. Hazards include but are not limited to:

  • Cascade Pass –steep snow (ice axe may be needed), high water crossing (Doubtful Creek, Basin Creek in early season), camping on snow, routefinding in snow, Cascade River Road early season closure. Primary hiking season is July 1 until snowfall.

  • Copper Ridge - steep snow (ice axe may be needed), high water crossing (northern Chilliwack), camping on snow, routefinding in snow, thin or collapsing snowbridges (Hannegan Pass Trail), Hannegan Pass USFS Road #32 early season closure. Primary hiking season is July 15 until snowfall.
  • Rainbow - McAlester Loop - Steep snow, ice axe needed (Bowan Pass, north of Rainbow Lake), high or impassable ford (crossing of Bridge Creek at South Fork Camp), seasonal bridges (Rainbow Creek). Primary hiking season for entire loop is late July until snowfall. McAlester Pass may be accessible earlier.
  • Park Creek Pass, Easy Pass - Steep snow, ice axe and routefinding skills required in early season, ford of Thunder Creek just south of Thunder Basin Camp. Primary hiking season is mid to late July until snowfall.
  • All climbing areas - normal travel requires the skills and expertise to routefind and navigate technical terrain, including glaciers, crevasses and moats, steep snow and rock, avalanche zones, etc.

The wilderness is a dynamic, natural environment where events and conditions are unpredictable and may vary widely year to year. There is a possibility that trail and campground closures, environmental conditions (such as snow, high stream crossings, etc.), natural events (such as fires, aggressive animals, etc.), or other events may prevent completion of your itinerary. In the event this occurs, every effort will be made to provide an alternative itinerary when you pick up your permit.

Submitting a Reservation Request

The reservation period is currently closed. The application form for 2019 will be live on from March 15 to April 15, 2019.

  • Reservation requests will only be accepted via The park will not accept requests by standard mail, fax, phone, or other delivery methods. The application form will be accessible beginning March 15.
  • Applicants will receive a confirmation of their payment and submission via, at the time of submittal.
  • Rangers will begin processing applications April 1. Applications submitted between March 15-24 will be processed in random order. Subsequent applications will be processed in the order received.
  • Successful applicants will receive an email confirmation with their reservation itinerary and instructions for permit pickup upon arrival at the park. Non-successful applicants will also receive an email notification that their itinerary did not work. Applicants should receive confirmation by May 15.
  • Due to the government shutdown in December and January, many agencies are now experiencing delays in hiring seasonal staff, which could effect the processing of applications and the availability of staff to answer phones during the application period. Please be patient, and we will answer inquiries as soon as we are able.

There is a $20 non-refundable application cost recovery fee for each application request submitted. If the backcountry staff is unable to award an advance reservation itinerary based upon the parameters requested in the application, the $20 fee is not refundable. The application form allows for alternative dates and locations to ensure a successful trip request. Consider all potential trip options and list these on the application.
* allows a variety of payment options. Credit card or Paypal are recommended for payment.

Changes to Confirmed Advance Reservations
There are two options to change a successful reservation request:

  • Submit another advance reservation application. Enter the number of the existing reservation into the “existing reservation” field on the application form. Reservation changes are subject to all fees ($20 non-refundable application cost recovery fee).

  • Make any changes to the reservation when the permit is picked up at the park, subject to walk-in availability. There is no charge for changing permit itineraries on a walk-in basis, up to 24 hours in advance of the start of a trip.

All reservation application fees are non-refundable. Amendments to existing advance reservations are subject to all fees. If travel plans change and you cannot use all, or part, of the backcountry reservation, please call 360-854-7245 to cancel the trip. A refund will not be provided, but it will allow other campers to enjoy those sites.

Technical Difficulties
For assistance with technical difficulties with the application process, call customer service at: 800-624-1373, option 2 (or 216-579-2112, option 2). Backcountry staff cannot diagnose technical issues related to the website.

Last updated: February 19, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


(360) 854-7200

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