Backcountry Reservations

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Photo courtesy of North Cascades Institute.

Reservation Policies

North Cascades National Park Service Complex accepts advance reservations each spring for summer backcountry travel between May 15 and September 30. 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.)

List of Reservable Camps and Capacities

Timeline

Reservations can be submitted starting March 15 to April 15, 2021 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.

Date

Details

March 1, 2021

Application link will be posted and applications can be started, however they cannot be submitted yet.

March 15, 2021

Reservation applications can now be submitted. Specific time and details are still being determined.

April 15, 2021

End of the advance reservation window. Specific time and details are still being determined.
Applications will not be accepted after this time.

May 15, 2021

First date for a reservable trip.
Applicants should have received a notification of their status by this date.
Do not email us before this date to check the status of your application unless your trip starts in May.

September 30, 2021

Last date for a reservable trip.


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 canceled 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, typically mid-to-late September.

  • 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, typically mid-to-late September.

  • 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, typically mid-to-late September. 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, typically mid-to-late September.

  • 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

Application link will be available on March 1st, however applications cannot be submitted until March 15th.

  • Reservation requests will only be accepted via pay.gov. The park will not accept requests by standard mail, fax, phone, or other delivery methods. The application form will be accessible from March 15 - April 15.

  • Applicants will receive a confirmation of their payment and submission via pay.gov, at the time of submittal.

  • 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, 2020.

Fees

2021 fees are still being determined.
There is a 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 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.
*Pay.gov allows a variety of payment options. Credit card is recommended for payment.

Changes to Confirmed Advance Reservations

  • 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.

Cancellations

All reservation application fees are non-refundable. 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 Pay.gov application process, call Pay.gov customer service at: 800-624-1373, option 2 (or 216-579-2112, option 2). Backcountry staff cannot diagnose technical issues related to the Pay.gov website.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you shuffling applications? I submitted my application right at midnight on March 15th.
In an effort to keep access to public lands as fair to as many people as possible, we shuffle all applications received in March. This ensures that those who are unable to submit an application right at midnight can still have a chance with their itineraries. If we didn't do this, many of the most popular sites would be filled for the whole summer summer by 12:01 am on March 15th.

I made a mistake and my app is already submitted, or I need to change my trip dates – how do I fix it?
If you need to make the corrections, you must submit a new application, subject to the same fee. Call the Wilderness office and ask us to discard your original application.

My reservation is for a trip that starts at Hozomeen. How to I activate my permit? I am obviously not passing through Marblemount.

If you are coming from the USA (Skagit County or south,) stop at the National Park Headquarters office in Sedro-Woolley to activate your permit. Canadian visitors can call the wilderness office at 360-854-7245 to activate.

I am entering the park through Stehekin to start my trip and I won’t get there by 11am to activate my reservation. Are you going to cancel my trip?
No worries, we hold the Stehekin reservations longer to make sure you have time to arrive on the ferry and get to the Golden West visitor center to pick up your permit.

I am climbing Mount Shuksan via the Fisher Chimneys Route. I don’t see that on the drop down menu. How do I reserve?
The bivy area for that route on Shuksan is within “Price Cross Country Zone.”

I am hiking the Devils Dome loop, so some parts of my trip are outside the park. How do I fill out the reservation?
Enter the real start date of your trip, and enter the total number of backcountry nights including the time spent outside the park. For the nights outside the park choose “other area/non reservable camp/walk up permit.” And for the night or nights along Ross Lake choose a specific camp.

Last updated: January 13, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Phone:

(360) 854-7200

Contact Us