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

Walk-Up Permits

Backcountry permits 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 areas that are not popular or crowded. Use the Wilderness Trip Planner to map out your trip and arrive early for the best campsite availability. Permits must be obtained before entering the backcountry.

A new feature for 2022 includes real-time backcountry camp availability on Recreation.gov. You can also make reservations up to two days before your desired trip start date, learn more here: Backcountry Reservations. Also, please note that:

  • Walk-up permits are issued at the ranger stations listed below
  • These permits can be issued the same day your trip starts, or up to one day before your trip starts, but no sooner than one day.
  • Walk-up permits cost $26.
  • Bring the license plate number of any vehicle(s) that will be parked at a trailhead during your stay, along with make, model, and color of the vehicle(s)

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)

Glacier Public Service Center (10091 Mt. Baker Hwy, Glacier, WA 98244)-This is a U.S. Forest Service ranger station that is jointly staffed by National Park Service wilderness rangers during the summer season. Backpackers and climbers can obtain backcountry permits required for overnight stays in areas within North Cascades National Park that are accessed via trailheads along the Mt. Baker Highway, such as the Fisher Chimney’s route on Mt. Shuksan, the Chilliwack River drainage, or Copper Ridge.

The Sedro-Woolley Park Headquarters, the Golden West Visitor Center and Chelan and Methow Valley Ranger Stations are not currently issuing permits.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:

  • Access to the park via Baker Lake Road (i.e. Sulphide Glacier route on Shuksan, Baker River)
  • Entering the park via Stehekin (Lake Chelan ferry system, private boat, plane, foot)
  • Visitors approaching the park from eastern Washington on SR 20 and beginning at any trailhead east of Ross Dam trailhead, or via Twisp Pass or War Creek Pass, Chelan Summit Trail
  • Pacific Northwest Trail through hikers

Please email us early in the morning the day before you want to start your trip and provide us with a good callback number. For trips starting from Stehekin, you may contact us the day before arriving in Stehekin.To expedite the process please, create a Recreation.gov account before contacting us. For driving directions and current hours for all National Park Service ranger stations click here.

 

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.

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 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: May 20, 2022

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Sedro-Woolley , WA 98284

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