Permits, Passes, and Fees

Permits, Passes, and Fees

Public lands make up over 36% of Washington State and are collectively owned by all of us – let’s get outside! Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple: they are managed by different land agencies and rules for getting out there as organized groups vary.

There are various land designations where Mountaineers trips and courses are held. Our Routes & Places displays the land manager for every location in our database. Pass and permit requirements for the general user as well as permitting resources for Mountaineers course leaders are provided below. 

National Forests

Okanogan Wenatchee | Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie 

Managed by the US Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service’s mission is to “sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” The first chief of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, famously said that the Forest Service must manage lands to provide the “greatest good of the great number in the long run.” The agency’s legally mandated multiple-use approach includes a delicate balance of habitat conservation, production of timber and other harvestable products, watershed protection, and recreation.

Some of The Mountaineers best trips and courses take place on National Forests. The National Forest Service is recognizing that recreation is important in keeping the public enthusiastic and supportive of America’s National Forests. 

General User Information: National Forests in Washington require parking passes at most trailheads and sites. You can purchase passes for National Forests online, at Forest Service offices, or from private retailers.  

Parking Passes Accepted at National Forests:

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

For Course Leaders: Most Mountaineers courses on National Forests happen on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie (MBS) and Okanogan-Wenatchee (OWNF) National Forests. We currently hold special use permits for our courses and course field trips in the Cle Elum and Wenatchee River (Leavenworth) districts of the OWNF.

Based on our organization’s historical use, MBS has authorized us to continue to run our courses as we have in the past until their internal processes allow them issue new outfitter-guide permits. We are appreciative of the MBS National Forest for this partnership. We follow all permit guidelines and restrictions.

Note:  If you are a new course leader, please refer to The Mountaineers Group Size Norms or the previous course leader for information regarding the proper permits for your course area. 

National Parks

Olympic | Rainier | North Cascades

Often considered the jewels of the federal public lands system, National Parks are managed by the US Department of Interior to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values” of lands “for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” They are off-limits for resource extraction, logging, hunting, and excessive development.

General User Information: Most National Parks have entrance fees and Wilderness permits for specific Wilderness areas. The America the Beautiful Interagency Annual Pass covers the entrance fee for any National Park. 

For Course Leaders: If you are a new course leader, please refer to The Mountaineers Group Size Norms or the previous course leader for information regarding the proper permits for your course area.

Olympic National Park

Rainier National Park

  • Special use permit required for groups greater than 24
  • Maximum party size is 60 per day on trails.
  • Only one group per day is allowed to conduct mountaineering training at Paradise and only one group is allowed on the Nisqually Glacier

North Cascades National Park

The park currently does not require The Mountaineers to pull permits for trips and courses. Please follow all Mountaineers group policies when leading trips or courses in North Cascades National Park. When in doubt, contact a ranger

Wilderness Areas

Defined by the Wilderness Act of 1864, Wilderness Areas are congressionally designated areas “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Wilderness areas prohibit logging, the construction of roads and structures, and the use of motorized and mechanized equipment. Wilderness areas can fall within National Parks and National Forests.

General User Information: Wilderness permits may be required for day use or camping in some Wilderness Areas. Trip and course leaders must obtain Wilderness Permits regardless of Special Use Permits. Most Wilderness permits are free and can be filled out at the trailhead. However, some popular Wilderness Areas such as the Enchantments or Seven Lakes Basin must be purchased and reserved in advance. 

Washington State Parks

State Parks are managed to protect natural and cultural features and provide recreational access.

General User Information: A Discover Pass is required to park in Washington State Parks. You can purchase Discover Passes online here or at these 600 retail locations. 

For Course Leaders: We hold a nonprofit Commercial Use Permit for State Parks. When you lead a course field trip on State Park lands, please report the date, Park and total number of participants to our Conservation and Recreation Manager.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

DNR now manages 5.6 million acres of forest, range, agricultural, aquatic, and commercial lands for more than $200 million in annual financial benefit for public schools, state institutions, and county services.

General User Information

For Course Leaders: No permits required but please abide by Mountaineers policies and keep group size to 12 (except course field trips).

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The are required by a Washington Legislature mandate to also provide sustainable, fish and wildlife related recreational and commercial opportunities.

General User Information:

 For Course Leaders: Vantage (Frenchman’s CouleeLimit group size to 12 or less except for courses which can be 50 or less (including students and instructors). Please limit use to one group per crag.



Miscellaneous Outdoor Resources

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