How to Obtain a Permit
Backcountry permits can be obtained two ways:
Both systems require a trip leader to be physically present at a ranger station (with few exceptions detailed further below) to pick up a permit. Permits can be picked up the day before or the day of a desired trip start date.
How to Make an Advanced Reservation
Advanced reservation can be made up to two days before your desired trip start date; learn more here: Backcountry Reservations.
How to Obtain a Walk-Up Permit
Walk-up permits are available in person, the day before or day of a desired trip start date on a first-come, first-served basis at a ranger station. There are many options for walk-up permits in the park, including areas that are not popular or crowded. Please come prepared with a plan (or two, or more) and be flexible so rangers can help you find alternative camps if your first choices are booked up.
Where to Obtain a Permit
Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount
7280 Ranger Station Road, Marblemount WA 98267
Glacier Public Service Center
10091 Mt. Baker Hwy, Glacier, WA 98244
Remote-Issued Permit via a Ranger in Marblemount
Exceptions to being physically present at a ranger to obtain a permit are detailed below. (The Park and Forest Information Center in Sedro-Woolley, the Golden West Visitor Center and Chelan and Methow Valley Ranger Stations are not currently issuing permits.)
2. Approaching the park from eastern Washington on SR20
3. Pacific Northwest Trail Through Hikers
Contact the Wilderness Office in Marblemount by email to request a call back only for the cases detailed above.
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: September 22, 2022