Backcountry Permits

A ranger talks to a visitor at a backcountry permit office.
Stop by the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, the park's main backcountry permit office, to chat with a ranger. Photo by NPS

Winter Permits


The Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount will be closed starting October 9th, but backcountry permits are required year round. While we are closed for the season, physical self-issue permits are available outside the ranger stations in Marblemount and Stehekin, or you can submit your permit via email. Self-issue permits are only valid until the Wilderness Information Center reopens in May. Please visit our Backcountry Reservations page to learn more about reservations for summer 2023.

To submit via email, please complete the following steps:

  1. Review regulations and Leave No Trace principles.
PERMITS ARE REQUIRED and valid only for the trip leader, number of people, and sites/dates listed. Your group must follow this itinerary!
KNOW AND FOLLOW ALL PARTY SIZE LIMITS: 12 pairs of eyes (people + stock) in all trailed areas and around the Boston Basin, Eldorado, and Sulphide Glacier Cross Country Zones; 6 in all other areas.
CAMP ONLY IN DESIGNATED SITES along trail corridors.
IN CROSS-COUNTRY ZONES camp on snow, rock, or bare ground. Avoid vegetation and water.
STORE FOOD PROPERLY at all times. Hang food and scented items at least 12 feet up, 5 feet out from any tree limb, or use a food canister or box.
MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS — Use a stove instead. Where allowed, use established campfire rings only, and burn only small, dead and downed wood. Campfires are prohibited in all cross-country zones. Never burn trash.
PROPERLY DISPOSE OF WASTE — Use toilets where provided; if no toilets are provided, dig a cathole in organic soil. On rock, snow or ice, pack out human waste. Pack out all garbage—never burn it!
LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND — Leave all natural and cultural objects as you found them.
PETS are not allowed in the National Park (except on the Pacific Crest Trail). Leashed dogs allowed in the Recreation Areas.
STOCK PACKERS must use stock trails and camps. No grazing in the National Park, grazing permit required for Recreation Areas where allowed.
HUNTING / FISHING must follow state regulations and require a valid WA license. Hunting prohibited in National Park.
  1. Check for camp and trail closures on our Trail Conditions page and Recreation.gov then plan your itinerary using the Wilderness Trip Planner.
Fill out and copy the form below. (To copy, select the content in the box below, right click and select "Copy".)

FULL NAME: __
RECREATION.GOV ACCOUNT EMAIL: __
PHONE NUMBER: __
# OF PEOPLE: __ BOATS: __ STOCK: __
VEHICLE MAKE/MODEL: __VEHICLE LICENSE/STATE: __
TRIP START DATE: MM/DD
BEGINNING TRAILHEAD: __
ITINERARY...
1: CAMP/ZONE: __ DATE: __
2: CAMP/ZONE: __ DATE: __
3: CAMP/ZONE: __ DATE: __
ENDING TRAILHEAD (If different.): __
REQUIRED: Do you agree to abide by all NPS regulations and Leave No Trace principles? Violators are subject to fines. If so, type YES: __

  1. Send us an email. An email form will appear after clicking the previous link. Paste the above contents into the Your Message field then fill out all the fields. (To paste, right click the text box and select "Paste".)
    If you're having difficulties, include all the information above in your permit request and send it to noca_wilderness@nps.gov. Your submission of the email is sufficient during the winter season (October - May reopening.) We will enter your permit into Recreation.gov.
  1. Be safe and enjoy your trip! Be advised that rescue response is extremely limited during the off season and all trips into the backcountry are taken at your own risk.
 

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. 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.

Any hiker without a PCTA Long-distance Permit must obtain, in advance, a park-issued backcountry permit at designated ranger stations for camping inside North Cascades National Park.

Visit the Pacific Crest Trail page for more information.

 
A climber travels on snow at sunset
Permits help ensure solitude and a quality backcountry experience. Photo by NPS /F. Shafer
 

Permits Are Limited

To protect the wilderness and visitors’ experiences, the number of permits issued for each area is limited. Popular areas such as Cascade Pass, Ross Lake, Copper Ridge, and Thornton 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: November 15, 2022

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