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Permits in Olympic National Park

Posted by Kim Brown at May 17, 2012 03:20 PM |

If you're considering backpacking in several high-use areas of Olympic National Park this summer, you will need to procure a permit up to 30 days in advance.

If you're considering backpacking in several high-use areas of Olympic National Park this summer, you will need to procure a permit up to 30 days in advance.

Washington's three national parks all require permits for backcountry camping, but they each have a different process. At Mount Rainier National Park, there is a lottery in March to handle the overwhelming interest. At North Cascades National Park it is first-come, first-served. And at Olympic National Park, most backcountry campsites do not require advanced reservations, but they are recommended or required for the following areas from May 1 through September 30.

  • Ozette Coast (required)
  • Royal Basin/Royal Lake (required)
  • Grand and Badger Valleys (half of quota is available in advance)
  • Lake Constance (required)
  • Flapjack Lakes (half of quota is available in advance)
  • Sol Duc/Seven Lakes/Mink Lake area (half of quota is available in advance)
  • Hoh Lake/CB Flats (half of quota is available in advance)
  • Hoh River Trail (reservations are available but not required)

To make a reservation, contact Olympic National Park's Wilderness Information Center at (360-565-3100). More information can be found on its website.

Whether you are backpacking to one of the these popular areas or not, it is wise to call ahead to determine where you can pick up your permit. All backcountry campers will need to carry one, and this permitting process varies across the park. Self-registration kiosks at Olympic National Park are located at trailheads where a reservation is not required for a particular destination. For example, because reservations are not required for Toleak Point, there is a self-permitting kiosk at that traihead; and because overnight permits are required for the Ozette Coast campsites, there is no self-permit kiosk there (it's not needed, because if you're over-nighting at Ozette, you will have picked up your permit at the ranger station).

If you're planning on a night-time arrival to camp at an park trailhead, you may call (360) 565-3100, and the park will place your permit in a box at the ranger station for you to to pick up on your way to the trailhead. And to avoid a long back-and-forth drive, the park has one exception for picking up a permit in-person: if you're going to Royal Basin or Upper Lena Lake, where permits are required and your driving route goes nowhere near a ranger station, a permit can be issued over the phone.