We have started processing 2021 reservations.Results will be sent out to all applicants on the same date: May 15th
(If your trip starts in May, we will prioritize sending you results sooner.)
We have received thousands of applications and are operating with very limited staff this season, so please do not contact us about your application status before May 15th as it slows our progress. Due to the added call and email volume that comes after sending results, we cannot send them until we have finished processing all applications. This ultimately helps you get your application result sooner.
If you haven't heard from us by May 15th, then please do contact us. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Learn and Explore
When is a Backcountry Permit Required?
Permits are required year round for all overnight stays in the backcountry of North Cascades National Park Service Complex (North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas). The primary objective of the permit system is to better manage backcountry visitation to prevent overcrowding and resource damage, and to provide for opportunities for solitude and a quality backcountry experience for all visitors, including future generations.
Note: Permits are not required for day use or for camping in car-accessed campgrounds along State Route 20 or at the drive-in campground at Hozomeen. Parking passes (such as the Northwest Forest Pass, required at USFS trailheads) do not substitute for a backcountry permit.
How to Get a Backcountry Permit
Advance reservations are available during a limited period each spring for up to 60 percent of the sites in the park. Reservation holders must still convert to a permit before entering the park.
The Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount will be closed starting October 12th, but backcountry permits are required year round. While the station is closed for the season, physical self-issue permits will be available outside the station or you can submit your permit via email.
Walk-Up Permits (Summer)
After the reservation period, backcountry permits for remaining sites are available the day before or day of a desired trip start date on a first-come, first-served basis. There are many options for walk-up permits in the park, including many that are not popular or crowded. Rangers can assist you with planning, but please be flexible, as walk-up permits are subject to same-day availability. Keep in mind that not all sites will be available every day because backpackers on longer trips may obtain walk-in sites for their entire trip itinerary. Arrive early for the best campsite availability. Walk-in permits are free, but must be obtained before entering the backcountry. Also, please note that:
Where to Obtain a Permit
Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount (7280 Ranger Station Road, Marblemount WA 98267)— Obtain permits here for all areas of the park. This center is the main backcountry permit office for the park complex. Wilderness rangers are on hand to provide firsthand trip planning advice for all wilderness and backcountry areas of the park, including Ross Lake and climbing areas. You'll also find current trail and camp conditions, maps, and more to assist with your trip planning. Note: All permits for the Cascade River Road are issued via Marblemount in person only (including Sahale, Cascade Pass, Boston Basin)
Contact the Wilderness Office in Marblemount by email with permitting questions or to request a call back for a remote issued permit for the following areas:
For driving directions and current hours for all National Park Service ranger stations click here. If you have any questions about obtaining a permit, please email us at the Wilderness Information Center.
Are you a Pacific Crest Trail hiker?
Beginning in 2020, North Cascades National Park will honor the long-distance Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hiking permit issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) for camping at specific camps. This is a policy change from previous years. PCTA long-distance permit holders no longer need to obtain an overnight backcountry camping permit for Six Mile Camp and Bridge Creek Camp within North Cascades National Park.
Permits Are Limited
To protect the wilderness and visitors’ experiences, the number of permits issued for each area is limited. Popular areas such as around Cascade Pass, along Ross Lake, on Copper Ridge, and at Thornton and Monogram Lakes can be very busy during the height of summer, and permits can fill quickly. The busiest climbing areas are: Sulphide Glacier, Boston Basin, and Eldorado cross-country zones. To maximize your chance of obtaining a permit and finding solitude, visit these areas midweek or after Labor Day, and have a backup itinerary or climb in mind if your first-choice area is already full. Ask a ranger for less busy alternative areas to visit. There is always somewhere to go.
Why do I need a permit?
Backcountry permits protect your wilderness experience and prevent overcrowding at camps or climbing routes, provide for opportunities for solitude and a quality backcountry experience, and protect natural resources so that all visitors – including future generations – can enjoy them. Permits also serve an important safety function in the event of an emergency or wildfire, and allow park managers to gather data important for planning and decision making. Thanks for doing your part to help steward these important wilderness resources.
Last updated: April 10, 2021