Central Cascades Wilderness Permits

Updates: The Deschutes and the Willamette National Forests are implementing the Central Cascades Wilderness Permits system in 2021. See News Release. This information is accurate as of March 30, 2021. Check back for updates as this page may be updated in the winter and spring. 

At a glance:

When will permits start being required? May 28, 2021
When can I get a permit? April 6, 2021 7 a.m. PDT


The Central Cascades Wilderness areas of Oregon are home to iconic mountain peaks, high alpine meadows and lakes, and old growth forests. Crystal clear streams, wildflower meadows, rugged mountain views, young lava flows, and much more can be found in the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas

Easily accessed by population centers in central and western Oregon, while drawing visitors from around the world, the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit system was established to ensure the protection of these landscapes now and into the future, in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Soda Meadows

Soda Meadows, photo credit: USDA Forest Service

Permit information:

The Central Cascades Wilderness Permit area requires additional protection to preserve the natural beauty and wilderness experience for you and future visitors and to better manage recreation-related impacts. Use limits, or quotas, are based on trailhead entry points. Common questions are answered below. Additionally, review the frequently asked questions document and day use and overnight quotas for more answers.

Where do I need a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit?

When are permits required?

Permits will be required starting on May 28, 2021. The last day of the permit season is September 24, 2021.

Where do I get the permits?

The easiest and fastest way to get permits will be through recreation.gov. You can also call the recreation.gov number at 1-877-444-6777 to reserve permits. Permits will eventually be available at some Willamette and Deschutes National Forest offices; however, due to COVID-19 mitigations, Forest Service offices are closed. It is unknown when they will open again to the public.

When can I get a permit?

  • A portion of permit availability for the full summer season was released Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 7 a.m. PDT. This included day use permits and the Central Cascades Wilderness Overnight Permits – Full Season in Advance.
  • The remaining permit availability comes available seven days before a trip would start. For example, for a trip starting on a Saturday, that permit could be reserved starting on the Saturday prior. This includes day use permits and the Central Cascades Wilderness Overnight Permits – Seven Days in Advance.

What is the fee for the permits?

The only cost for the permits is the reservation fee charged by Recreation.gov.

  • Day use permit: $1 per person, for each outing
  • Overnight permit: $6 per group permit, for each outing (1-12 people per group)

What information do I need to reserve a permit?

For overnight permits, you will need to create an account with Recreation.gov. Once you have your account, you will need the following information to reserve a permit:

  • Name
  • Entry date
  • Entry trailhead
  • Group size (maximum of 12)
  • For overnight permits:
    • Length of trip
    • Number of stock (maximum of 12)

We recommend identifying alternative trailheads and entry dates, in case the trip you’re hoping for is not available.

How do I reserve a permit?

Check out these resources that walk you through purchasing a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit on Recreation.gov. Even though the example uses March 1 as a date, permits are required May 28 through September 24, 2021.

What if I am hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)?

Long-distance PCT hikers and riders who have a Long-Distance Permit (500 miles or more) issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association do not need Central Cascade Wilderness Permits. All other users of the PCT must obtain a Central Cascade Wilderness Permit. For more information and maps, view this document: 2021 PCT Long-Distance Travelers Need to Know for Central Cascades Wilderness Permit Areas.

Central Cascades Wilderness Permit Regulations

  • Permits are non-transferable.
  • Group Leaders cannot be changed, and at least one group leader or alternate group leader must be with the group.
  • You must enter the permit area on the entry date and entry trailhead shown on your permit.
  • All group members are required to start on the same day and camp together.
  • Maximum length of overnight stay is 14 consecutive days.
  • You must carry your permit with you and present it upon request to any Forest Officer or other law enforcement officer throughout the duration of your trip. Permits are non-transferable.
  • You may not re-enter on a different date using the same permit.
  • Travel between Central Cascades Wilderness areas is only allowed at Pacific Crest Trail trailheads.
  • View more information on Wilderness rules and regulations.

Unless a Central Cascade Wilderness Permit is required, all other visitors who enter Willamette National Forest wilderness areas will need a free wilderness self-issue permit. A permit is necessary for each group entering the wilderness. Self-issue permits are free and available at wilderness trailheads. 

Contact Information

Please contact sm.fs.ccwp@usda.gov with any questions about the Central Cascade Wilderness Permit system or reach out to a local ranger district of the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests.