Permits and Fees

The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail travels through many different public and private lands. You can help to protect our natural resources and the quality of the experience for all users of the PNT. 

Practice Leave No Trace and “Know Before You Go” by learning the regulations of the area you are visiting before your trip.

Permits & Fees
Permits & Fees
A Ranger in Glacier NP issues a backcountry camping permit

The PNT on our National Forests

There are no fees for overnight backcountry camping on the PNT in any of the seven National Forests. Some cabins and lookouts along the trail can be reserved in advance for a modest fee.  National Forest campgrounds may also charge a fee for overnight camping.

When choosing a backcountry campsite on our National Forests, always follow the regulations of the local land manager and Leave No Trace principles. You can learn regulations specific to the area, before your trip on USFS websites, visiting ranger stations, and reading posted information at trailhead kiosks.

Vehicles

Parking a vehicle at trailhead in a National Forest in Washington will typically require a Northwest Forest Pass.

The interagency America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is honored nationwide at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees. The Interagency Annual Pass is $80 for a year pass and is available to the general public.

Visiting our National Parks

Vehicle entrance fees are collected from those visiting the PNT in Glacier and Olympic National Parks using personal transportation. There are no entrance or day use fees for visiting North Cascades National Park. Additional fees and reservations are required for overnight camping in these National Parks.

For overnight trips on the PNT in Glacier National Park, the North Cascades National Park Complex, and Olympic National Park, backcountry permits are required for backcountry camping along the trail. Camping is only allowed only in designated sites in these National Parks; dispersed camping is not allowed. These permit systems help protect the PNT, and the experience for you and other visitors.

Due to unprecedented visitation levels in recent years, Glacier National Park has introduced ticketed entry systems for the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the Polebridge area, and a Ticket to Ride system for park shuttles. Learn more on the park’s website.

Getting Backcountry Permits

Backcountry permits must be obtained before an overnight trip on the PNT in our national parks. Policies and fees for backcountry permits vary between the parks. Some permits may be reserved by making advance reservations, others must be made or obtained in person at specific ranger stations.

In recent years, the national parks along the PNT have made changes, you can learn more about wilderness camping permits in 2022, here. Or you can visit each national park’s website for the most current information about permits and reservations using the links provided.

You can also learn more about the backcountry sites in each park by reviewing the backcountry trip planning maps below. These maps show the locations and distances between each backcountry campsite and are essential tools for planning a reservation.

Permits for PNT Thru-hikers

Long-Distance hiking Permits Are Not Available for the PNT

At this time, there is no coordinated permit available (like what is offered for the Pacific Crest Trail) for Pacific Northwest Trail thru-hikers. Thru-hikers must obtain backcountry camping permits for each of the national parks along the trail.

Outside of the these national parks, PNT thru-hikers should follow the rules and regulations of the local land manager for dispersed backcountry camping (key info is included on the PNTA mapset). In areas where permits are required to camp along the PNT in our national forests, these are available via free self-registration at trailhead kiosks.

Learn more about obtaining permits for long-distance hiking on the Pacific Northwest Trail here.

Backcountry permits protect your wilderness experience by preventing overcrowding at camps or climbing routes, providing for opportunities for solitude and a quality backcountry experience, and protecting 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.” – North Cascades National Park

State, City & County Lands

 Idaho

Priest Lake State Park, located just south of the PNT, on Upper Priest Lake, requires a fee for vehicles and for camping in the state park. The Idaho State Parks Passport is accepted here.

 

Washington

Washington State Forests and Parks require a Discover Pass to park at trailheads and access recreation sites by vehicle. The Check Out Washington program provides fee-free access to state lands by making the Discover Pass free to check out from participating libraries.

State forest campgrounds and backcountry sites along the PNT, such as the Loomis State Forest in Eastern Washington and the Blanchard Forest, in the Chuckanut Mountains are first-come, first-served, and are free to use.

Those visiting Washington State Parks by vehicle are required to have a Discover Pass or to pay an entrance fee. All of the Washington State Parks along the Pacific Northwest Trail, except for Joseph Whidbey State Park, have fee-based camping facilities and take advance reservations online

Deception Pass State Park in the Puget Sound, is Washington’s most popular state park and sites are limited during the peak season. Walk-up hiker/ biker sites may be available at the Cranberry Lake Campground west of the PNT. More sites are available nearer the PNT at the Quarry Pond Campground at mile 971 (see park brochure and map).  

Fees for Vehicles and Campgrounds

Parking a vehicle at trailhead in a National Forest will typically require a Northwest Forest Pass. Washington State Forests and Washington State Parks require a Discover Pass to park at trailheads and recreation sites. The Check Out Washington program provides fee-free access to state lands by making the Discover Pass free to check out from participating libraries.

Entrance fees may be charged at Olympic and Glacier National Parks to those visiting by vehicle. Some Washington State Parks may also require an entrance fee.

Developed campgrounds in Washington State Parks and on our National Forests typically charge a fee for overnight camping.

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