Olympic National Forest Rules and Regulations

Regulations vary by land management agency, by activity, and by area visiting. So be sure to check with the appropriate land management agency for the latest information concerning their current regulations. The following regulations apply to Olympic National Forest.

Where Can I Drive My Motor Vehicle?

Within national forestlands motor vehicles are only allowed on designated routes. Please view the 2012 Motor Vehicle Use Maps to learn more about designated routes.

Drone (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Use on National Forest Lands

Forest Service Unmanned Aircraft Systems Use Policy

Individuals and organizations that fly UAS for hobby or recreational purposes may not operate them in areas of National Forest System lands that have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) in place, such as wildfires, without prior approval from the U.S. Forest Service.

The FAA provides guidance on “Flights Over Charted U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and Forest Service Areas”. Per this guidance, federal laws prohibit certain types of flight activity and/or provide altitude restrictions over “designated Forest Service Areas.” Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are considered to be "mechanized” equipment and cannot take off and land in designated Wilderness on National Forest System lands.

Protect Wildlife & the Environment

  • Do not fly over congressionally designated Wilderness or Primitive areas as many people seek these places for the opportunities for solitude and quiet that they provide.
  • Do not fly over or near wildlife as this can create stress that may cause significant harm, and even death.
  • Pursuit, harassment, or an intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is prohibited unless legally approved as research or management.
  • Follow state wildlife and fish agency regulations on the use of UAS to search for or detect wildlife and fish.
  • Launch the UAS more than 100 meters (328 feet) from wildlife. Do not approach animals or birds vertically with the UAS.
  • Birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and bald eagles are also protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which, among restrictions for causing harm, also prohibits harassment and disturbance of bald and golden eagles.

For additional information visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/aviation/uas.

Is Target Shooting Allowed on National Forest Lands?

Target shooting on national forest lands is permitted unless a specific area has been closed for public safety. Please ensure that you have a safe backdrop and take safety precautions before you engage in this activity. For information about closures, contact your nearest district office.

Regulations prohibit discharging a firearm:

  • In or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area,
  • Across or on roads or bodies of water, or where people or property are exposed to injury or damage,
  • Into a cave,
  • Into areas that cause resource damage. Don’t shoot trees, rocks, stumps, or non-game animals.

Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine or imprisonment. (16 U.S.C. 551, 18 U.S.C. 3559 and 3571). More information about shooting sports: https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/shooting.

What Rules Must I Follow When Visiting Wilderness?

View rules that apply to designated Wilderness areas.

Can I Bring My Pet?

Pets are allowed in the Olympic National Forest. They must be under control or on a leash. In developed rec areas such as trailheads and campgrounds and busy trails pets must be on a leash and under control. Saddle, pack or draft animals are allowed only in authorized areas. Be aware that pets are restricted in Olympic National Park; be aware of where Park and Forest boundaries are. 

Regulations Within Developed Sites such as Campgrounds and Trailheads

Developed recreation sites are those areas that offer one or more amenities such as picnic tables, fire pits, camping, or restroom facilities.  Check the visitor information board at each site for available amenities as well as current regulations. The following is a partial list of regulations governing Forest Service campgrounds and other developed recreation sites:


  1. Dispose of all garbage and litter in provided containers when available, otherwise, pack it out.
  2. Garbage containers, when provided, are for forest visitors only.
  3. Faucets are for drawing water only.  Do not wash food or personal items near the faucets. 
  4. To prevent pollution, keep garbage and litter out of lakes, streams, and other water.
  5. Do not throw garbage, litter, fish entrails, or other items into toilets or other plumbing fixtures.

Operating Motor Vehicles:

  1. Obey all traffic signs and posted speed limits. State traffic laws apply unless otherwise specified.
  2. When operating vehicles of any kind, do not damage the land or vegetation, or disturb wildlife.
  3. Within campgrounds and recreation sites, use licensed vehicles only in designated areas.  Park only in marked parking areas.
  4. For the safety and convenience of others, do not block, restrict, or interfere with the use of roads or trails.
  5. Operate trail bikes and other off-road vehicles respectfully to avoid damaging forest resources.   Obey area and trail closures or other restrictions.
  6. See the Motor Vehicle Use Map


  1. Obey fire restrictions. Fire restrictions may apply at certain times of the year. 
  2. No campfires are allowed above 3500 feet elevation. 
  3. Build fires only within established rings, stoves, grills, or fireplaces. .
  4. Keep flammable materials away from campfires.
  5. Keep your fire at a manageable size; keep a shovel and a bucket of water nearby. 
  6. NEVER leave your campfire unattended.  Be sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. Do not leave cans, bottles, or trash of any kind within the fire ring.


  1. Day use areas are only open between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  2. Campgrounds and other recreation sites are for recreation purposes only. Permanent use or use as a primary residence without authorization is prohibited.
  3. In campgrounds, use established sites only. 
  4. At least one person must occupy a camping area during the first night after camping equipment has been set up, unless permission has been granted by a Forest Service employee or campground host.
  5. Camping equipment cannot be left unattended for more than 24 hours.  The Federal Government is not responsible for any lost, damaged, or stolen property.
  6. Remove all personal property and trash when leaving.

Fee Sites:

  1. A fee may be required to use certain recreation sites. Such areas are clearly signed or posted. Please note that fees are required at most campgrounds, trailheads, and overnight lodging facilities.
  2. Required fees must be paid before using the site.
  3. Be aware that extra fees may be required in some situations such as parking for two vehicles in the same site. 
  4. Read information boards for additional information

Government Property:

  1. Preserve and protect your National Forest. Please be respectful of all natural resources and facilities.
  2. Do not carve, chop, cut, or damage any live or dead standing trees.
  3. Leave natural areas as pristine as possible.  Properly dispose of all trash and pack out what you pack in.
  4. Only enter buildings, structures, or enclosed areas that are open to the public.
  5. Respect cultural sites, historic artifacts, old structures, or any objects that might that have historic or archeological value. NEVER move, damage, or take such resources.

Public Behavior:

  1. Please be courteous to fellow visitors.
  2. No fighting or boisterous behavior.
  3. Keep noise at a reasonable level.

Pets and Animals:

  1. Pets must always be kept under physical controlor on a leash in developed areas.
  2. Pets are prohibited in swimming areas.
  3. Saddle, pack, or draft animals are allowed only in authorized areas.

Business Activities

Permits are required for the following activities within all National Forests:

  1. Selling any merchandise
  2. Posting or distributing any bill, paper, or notice.
  3. Conducting or participating in a public meeting, assembly, or special event.
  4. Information on all permit requirements is available from any Forest Service office.

Audio Devices:

  1. Operate audio devices, such as radios, only when other visitors are not disturbed by them. 
  2. A permit is required to operate a sound system in or near a campsite, developed recreation site, or over a body of water.

Fireworks and Firearms:

  1. Use of fireworks or other explosives is prohibited on National Forest lands at all times.
  2. Regulations prohibit discharging a firearm:
  • In or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area,
  • Across or on roads or bodies of water, or where people or property are exposed to injury or damage,
  • Into a cave,
  • Into areas that cause resource damage. Don’t shoot trees, rocks, stumps, or non-game animals.

Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine or imprisonment. (16 U.S.C. 551, 18 U.S.C. 3559 and 3571). See Target Shooting.

What Regulations Apply to Hunting and Fishing Within the Forest?

Man fishingHunting and fishing regulations within Olympic National Forest are under the jurisdiction of Washington State. Please visit the Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information.

What Regulations Differ between National Forest and National Park?

When planning your trip, remember that regulations vary widely between Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park. Many trails are shared by both agencies, including some that provide access to wilderness areas. It is imperative that you understand the rules that apply to the areas that you visit on the Olympic Peninsula.


Regulations on the Olympic National Forest vs. Olympic National Park.





Wilderness overnight permit required



Wilderness limit on number of persons & stock in party



Wilderness closed to open fires



Other rules governing use in Wilderness  



Firearms allowed



State fishing license required



Pets allowed on trails  



Trails open to mountain bicycles



Trails open to motor vehicles



Trails open to pack and saddle stock



Roadside camping allowed outside of campgrounds



Recreation Pass required to park at trailhead