Central Cascades Wilderness Permits

Update: Based on the lessons learned from the implementation of the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System in 2021, improvements to the system have been developed through an adaptive management process. See news release from Feb. 15, 2022.

At a Glance:                     

When will permits start being required?

June 15, 2022 

When can I get an overnight permit?

April 5, 2022 7:00 a.m. PDT

When can I get a day-use permit?

June 5, 2022 7:00 a.m. PDT

Soda Meadows               

Soda Meadows, photo credit: USDA Forest Service


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.
 

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.          

Where do I need a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit?   

  • Overnight Use
    • Central Cascades Wilderness Permits are required for all overnight stays in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas.
    • No Central Cascades Wilderness Permits are required for overnight stays in the Waldo Lake and Diamond Peak Wilderness areas.
       
  • Day Use
    • Central Cascades Wilderness Permits are required at 19 of 79 trailheads in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas (see maps).
       
  • Maps                                                

When are permits required?

Permits are required June 15-Oct. 15, 2022.
 

Where do I get the permits?

All reservations need to be made through Recreation.gov either online, via the Recreation.gov app or by calling their call center at 1-877-444-6777 or TDD 877-833-6777. Permits are not available at Forest Service offices.

When can I get a permit?             

  • Overnight Permits:                                                       
    • About 40% of each day's overnight permits will be released on April 5, 2022 at 7:00.am PDT.
    • The remaining overnight permits become available seven days before a trip start date. For example, for a trip starting on a Saturday, that permit could be reserved starting on the Saturday prior.
                                           
  • Day-Use Permits:                                             
    • Day-use permits will be released in two rolling windows: 10 days and then 2 days before the trip date.
    • Example: for the first day of permit season, June 15, the first patch of permits will be released on June 5 at  7:00 am PDT. The remaining permits will be released June 13 at 7:00 am PDT. 
                                    

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?

 You will need the following information to reserve a permit:       

  • Name
  • Alternate permit holder (not required if not applicable)    
  • 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.

For overnight permits, you will also need to create an account with Recreation.gov. An account is not required for day use permits, but it is recommended. 
 

How did the permit system change in 2022?

There are a number of changes to the permit system in 2022 based on last year's experience. Those changes include:       

  • At some trailheads, quotas were increased to account for a higher rate of visitors not showing up.
  • There is no full season advanced release of day-use permits; day-use permits are only available on a rolling basis - 10 days and 2 days before the day of a trip.   
  • There is only one website for overnight permit reservations, instead of two last year. 
  • The overnight quota is now only based on date of entry; this means that there is a daily entry quota for each trailhead, which will allow a certain number of groups to start their trip each day. The permit system no longer requires available quota for each night of a group's trip.
     

How do I reserve a permit?

Check out this resource that walks you through purchasing a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit on Recreation.gov. Even though the example uses March 1 as a date, permits are required June 15-Oct. 15.        

 

Are there exceptions to the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit requirement?

Yes, the following situations are exempted from getting a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit:

  • Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Long Distance permit, issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association for long distance hikers and riders traveling more than 500 miles along the PCT.
  • Hunters with elk or deer hunting tags from ODFW:
    • Elk and deer tags can be used in lieu of Wilderness permits (overnight and/or day) during the hunting season established by ODFW.
    • Entry is allowed one day prior to the start of the hunting season and one day after.
    • Three additional support persons can accompany the licensed hunter, group size max of four per hunting tag.
    • Hunters must have their hunting implement with them, along with proof of their hunting tag.
  • Volunteers, while volunteering in coordination with the Forest Service.
     

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.