Wilderness Rules and Regulations

A snowy covered Mt. Washington with pine trees in the distance and a small lake.

Wilderness Permits

Whether day-hiking or overnight back-packing, all individuals and/or groups must obtain a wilderness permit. Some of the permits are free, self-issued wilderness visitor use permit at the trailhead. Central Cascade Wilderness Permits are required for overnight use and many day use trailheads in the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington Wilderness areas from the Friday before Memorial Day through the last Friday in September. To learn more about our permit system, visit the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit page.

View complete Forest Order 06-01-20-01 and map for details. 

Federal Regulations (36 CFR 261.18) for National Forest Wilderness

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is prohibited. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters. Flying drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over wilderness areas is also prohibited.

The following are prohibited in all congressionally designated wilderness areas managed by the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests:

  • Groups larger than 12 persons and 12 head of stock. Large groups multiply the impact on the resource and can be disruptive to others.
  • Entering or being in Willamette National Forest wildernesses without a permit. Visitors need a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit or a self-issuing permit, depending on the trip. For more information about permits, visit our wilderness permits page. Information gathered from permits is vital in determining proper management.
  • Hitching, tethering, picketing, or securing any pack or saddle stock within 200 feet slope distance of any permanent lake, stream, spring, pond or shelter. These areas are sensitive to the effect of repeated grazing and trampling. Once damage occurs, water quality may be affected by resulting erosion.
  • Motorized equipment and mechanized equipment such as bicycles, wagons, carts or wheelbarrows (except wheelchairs). These uses are incompatible with the legal and ethical definition of wilderness.
  • Discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a campsite or occupied area or across a body of water or in any manner or place whereby any person is exposed to injury. The indiscriminate discharge of firearms in areas of recreation use is dangerous.
  • Camping or being within areas posted as closed for rehabilitation. These areas have been closed to allow recovery. Use of these sites inhibits restoration efforts.
  • Cutting or damaging any live tree or vegetation except as authorized. Damaging or cutting live trees or shrubs is opposed to wilderness values and the concept of a natural environment.
  • Storing equipment, personal property or supplies within the wilderness for more than 48 hours. Storing personal belongings disrupts the natural conditions of the wilderness and others' experience.
  • Gathering a forest product, for example mushrooms and berries, except for personal on site use. Limiting collection of edibles, such as mushrooms and berries, to what you can consume during your visit assures future visitors the same sense of discovery and enjoyment.
  • Commercial use and/or services within wilderness except by special use permit. This use is incompatible with the legal and ethical definition of Wilderness.

Special Area Regulations

Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Sisters Wildernesses

  • These areas require a Central Cascade Wilderness Permit for overnight use and some day use. See the Central Cascade Wilderness Permit page for more information.
  • Campfires are prohibited above 5,700 feet.
  • Additional campfire and camping regulations apply in some areas. View complete Forest Order and map for details.

Diamond Peak Wilderness

  • Campfires are prohibited above 6,000 foot elevation.

Check with a local Ranger District office for further information and detailed maps.

Weed-Free Feed

As part of a larger effort to reduce invasive species on national forest lands, weed-free feed is required in the 17 national forests and the Crooked River National Grasslands of the Pacific Northwest. 

Violation of these and other laws, rules and regulations which apply to designated Wilderness are punishable by a fine or imprisonment. (16 U.S.C. 551, 18 U.S.C. 3559 and 3571).