Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about the White Mountain National Forest. The answers provide more information about the Forest and what it has to offer. Use the links below to navigate directly to the answer you're looking for.

  1. Is the White Mountain National Forest a national park?
  2. How do I locate a recreation area, picnic site or campground?
  3. Are there entrance or day-use fees charged in the White Mountain National Forest?
  4. Can I reserve a picnic shelter or any other area on the White Mountain National Forest?
  5. What about emergencies?
  6. Do I need to make reservations to camp on the White Mountain National Forest?
  7. Does the White Mountain National Forest have cabins?
  8. Can I bring my dog on my visit to the White Mountain National Forest?
  9. What is the difference between developed and dispersed camping on the Forest?
  10. How do I obtain firewood for my campsite?
  11. Do you have America the Beautiful or Federal Recreation Passes available at your offices?
  12. I want to hunt or fish on the White Mountain National Forest. What regulations apply?
  13. Can I use a firearm to target shoot on the White Mountain National Forest?
  14. Can I stay overnight in my car in a White Mountain National Forest trailhead parking lot or roadside pulloff?

 

Is the White Mountain National Forest a national park?

While national parks are part of the Department of Interior, national forests are managed by the Department of Agriculture. Founded a decade before the National Park Service and overseeing more than twice the land of the National Park Service, the U.S. 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.

While National Park Service manages much of its land through tenets of preservation, the U.S. Forest Service employs conservation of the land, allowing for multiple use of federal land under its jurisdiction.

 

How do I locate a recreation area, picnic site or campground?

The forest recreation areas, picnic sites and campgrounds do not have physical addresses. Visit White Mountain National Forest’s online Recreation page for descriptions and maps. Free highway and paper maps are also available at all three White Mountain National Forest ranger stations.

 

Are there entrance or day-use fees charged in the White Mountain National Forest?

Yes. There are Recreation Day Use fees associated with some trailheads and parking lots in the national forest.

 

Can I reserve a picnic shelter or any other area on the White Mountain National Forest?

Yes. The Dolly Copp Picnic Area is available for reservations online. For all other day use and picnic areas, the White Mountain National Forest does not maintain reservations – these areas are first-come, first-serve.

 

What about emergencies?

In the event of an emergency in the White Mountain National Forest, dial 911. Be aware that much of the national forest has unreliable cell coverage, so making a call could necessitate driving to an area with coverage.

 

Do I need to make reservations to camp on the White Mountain National Forest?

No. Some campgrounds within the White Mountain National Forest allow reservations at recreation.gov. Be aware that all reservations must be made at least 7 days in advance. The vast majority of campground sites are first come, first-serve. When you arrive at the developed campground entrance, please follow the instructions on the fee station. To learn more about White Mountain National Forest developed campgrounds, visit our developed camping pageLeave No Trace ethics apply to all visits to the White Mountains.

 

Does the White Mountain National Forest have cabins?

Yes. White Mountain National Forest has 3 rentable cabins. Reservations are maintained through recreation.gov. Be aware that all reservations must be made at least 7 days in advance.

 

Can I bring my dog on my visit to the White Mountain National Forest?

Yes. Dogs are welcome in the White Mountain National Forest; however, they must be leashed when in developed recreation areas such as campgrounds, picnic areas, trailhead parking lots, and on developed trails (Diana’s Baths, for instance). Once outside of developed recreation areas on the trails, dogs may be off leash if they are under strict voice command.

Be aware that excessive barking in developed campgrounds, especially during 10 PM – 6 AM quiet areas can result in violation tickets due to noise.

 

What is the difference between developed and dispersed camping on the Forest?

Developed campgrounds: These campgrounds are the classic drive-up sites. There is a fee at these campgrounds which offers amenities such as a picnic table, fire ring with grilling grate, parking spot, potable drinking water and a toilet. There is also a dumpster nearby for your use. Camping is allowed at one campsite for a maximum of 14 nights. Some of these campgrounds are closed seasonally; please see our recreation site index for more details. For specific regulations, visit our developed camping page for details on developed campground camping. It is also a good idea to leave your location and expected date of return with someone at home.

Dispersed camping: Dispersed camping on the White Mountain National Forest is a more primitive form of camping, offering little to no amenities. For specific regulations, visit our dispersed camping page for dispersed camping regulations. No permits are required. It is also a good idea to leave your location and expected date of return with someone at home. Leave No Trace ethics apply to all visits to the White Mountain National Forest.

 

How do I obtain firewood for my campsite?

Firewood must be from obtained from local sources only. White Mountain National Forest developed campgrounds have wood available for purchase on-site. If you use wood near your campsite, you must only use dead and down wood. Preventing the movement of wood from across long distances helps to reduce the spread of non-native insects, which can kill large numbers of trees.

 

Do you have America the Beautiful or Federal Recreation Passes available at your offices?

Yes. We have all America the Beautiful interagency passes available for sale at any of our ranger stations. Interagency passes can also be purchased online through the USGS Store.

 

I want to hunt or fish on the White Mountain National Forest. What regulations apply?

Fishing and Hunting are allowed within the White Mountain National Forest. Fishing and hunting are both regulated within the forest according to the laws, licenses, and regulations of New Hampshire Fish & Game Department and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Because the White Mountain National Forest includes land in both the state of New Hampshire and the state of Maine, it is the responsibility of those hunting or fishing to have the appropriate state permit or license, depending on which side of the state border one is in.

 

Can I use a firearm to target shoot on the White Mountain National Forest​?

Yes. Target shooting on White Mountain National Forest land is permitted. However, certain rules and guidelines must be followed:

  1. Ensure that you have a safe backdrop to shoot towards. Look for large earthen mounds or hills. Dense tree understory is never a suitable backdrop!
  2. Do not discharge firearms in ways that cause resource damage. Do not shoot trees or stumps. 36 CFR 261.6a ($200.00 Fine)
  3. Recreational shooting must follow Leave No Trace principles. There should be no sign of your activity once you vacate the area. Pick up all trash, shell casings, shooting debris, targets, etc. 36 CFR 261.11d ($200.00 Fine)
  4. Tracer bullets or incendiary ammunition is prohibited. 36 CFR 261.5b ($200.00 Fine)
  5. For hunting, follow all licensing requirements of either New Hampshire Fish and Game or the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
  6. The possession or use of exploding targets is prohibited on White Mountain National Forest land. 36 CFR 261.52f ($150.00 Fine)

It is unlawful to discharge a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun or other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property:

  1. In or within 150 yards (450 feet) of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area. Please note that a heavily used trail could qualify as an ‘occupied area.’
  2. Across or on roads or bodies of water, or where people or property are exposed to injury or damage.
  3. Into or within any cave. 36 CFR 261.10(d) ($350.00 Fine) 

Certain areas of the White Mountain National Forest are closed to target shooting by the following forest orders:

Contact any White Mountain National Forest office with further questions regarding the use of firearms on national forest land.

 

Can I stay overnight in my car in a White Mountain National Forest trailhead parking lot or roadside pulloff?

Regulations concerning overnight occupancy of vehicles varies across the White Mountain National Forest:

  1. Occupying a vehicle overnight is prohibited in all trailhead and day-use parking lots. 
  2. Occupying a car overnight is allowed if the car is parked within a designated campsite in one of the national forest's developed campgrounds
  3. Occupying a vehicle overnight along a road within the national forest is determined through consulting the Forest Protection Area maps.  Maps are available to be viewed at all White Mountain National Forest ranger stations or online.

When consulting rules and regulations, keep in mind the National Forest definition of camping as "the temporary use of National Forest System land for the purpose of overnight occupancy without a permanently-fixed structure."