Parking Passes & Wilderness Restrictions

Parking Passes & Wilderness Restrictions

This page provides information about the various parking passes and wilderness restrictions in place for our land managers.

Public lands make up over 36% of Washington State and are collectively owned by all of us. Keep in mind - these lands are managed by different agencies and the rules for recreating as organized groups vary across these agencies. Each of our Routes & Places displays the land manager for that location, as well as any relevant land sub-designation  (ie, Wilderness or National Recreation Area).

Parking pass and permit requirements for the general user are provided below. 

Mountaineers volunteer leaders and course leaders should visit our Facilitated Access Permitting page for the most up-to-date information about what permits may be required for course-related and stand-alone trips.

National Forests

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 Services is recognizing that recreation is important to 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

National Parks

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. 

Olympic National Park

Rainier National Park

North Cascades National Park

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 or at one of many retail locations.


Washington Department of Natural Resources

The 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: Discover Pass is required to park in Washington State Parks. You can purchase Discover Passes online or at one of many retail locations.


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. They are required by a Washington Legislature mandate to also provide sustainable, fish and wildlife related recreational and commercial opportunities.

General User Information:

Miscellaneous Resources