Passes & Permits

Kids playing next to a lake in the Black Hills National Forest, located in western South DakotaThe Rocky Mountain Region manages 17 national forests and 7 national grasslands throughout Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and most of South Dakota and Wyoming. Our region offers many exciting and different summer and winter recreational opportunities that you can enjoy. Many of the facilities and services associated with these recreation opportunities are free of charge. However, some areas do require fees or permits to help maintain, manage and improve the forest amenities that you enjoy.

A special use permit grants rights or privileges of occupancy and use to the holder. Examples include occupying the National Forest for a wedding party of more than 75 people, or holding a bicycle race. These permits contain specific terms and conditions that the holder must follow.
Before special use permits are issued, the Forest Service must determine that the proposed use complies with all management plans and laws, that there is a demonstrated need for the activity, and that the use is appropriate on the National Forest. Special Use Permits are a temporary authority.

Firewood and other forest products are not Special Use Permits and are covered under different authorities. Permits may be required for collecting firewood or other forest products for personal use, and are available at local Forest or Ranger District offices. Remember, all commercial uses or removal of forest products from federal lands requires a permit.

Current Interagency Passes [left to right from bottom: Access Pass, Volunteer Pass, Senior Pass, and Annual Pass]To make the best choice on which pass to purchase, you should think about your recreation plans for the next year. You have options such as buying a single day pass, a multi-day pass, or even an annual pass that covers a forest or region. If you plan to recreate in many different spots across the nation, an Interagency Annual Pass may be your best value. You may also qualify for one of the Interagency Lifetime Passes (Interagency Senior Pass or Interagency Access Pass).


Recreation permits are issued when extra measures are required for natural and cultural resource protection, or the health and safety of visitors. They may also be used to disperse recreation use or help ensure that the number of visitors does not exceed the capacity of the land.

Recreation permits can include:

  • Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area/Trail
  • River
  • Wilderness
  • Groomed Cross-Country Ski Trail
  • Group Activities*
  • Recreation Events*
* These activities have historically required a "Special Use Permit", which sometimes includes a fee and sometimes are free. The Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) allows funds from these fees to now remain where collected. See SPECIAL USE PERMITS above.