Passes & Permits

The Forest Service offers places for hiking, biking, skiing, nature viewing, scenic drives, and for gathering forest products such as mushrooms, firewood, and holiday trees. Many of the facilities and services associated with these opportunities are free (you may need to request a free permit).

However, some sites/activities require fees or special use permits, which help to maintain, manage, and improve recreation on the Custer Gallatin National Forest. If you plan to visit multiple national parks and other federal public lands that charge entrance or standard amenity (day use) fees, a federal interagency pass may be a good value for you.

Forest Products

  • Berries, Mushrooms, Cones & Boughs

    huckleberries on a bush

    The Forest offers opportunities for gathering forest products including mushrooms, berries, and boughs. Learn best practices to help maintain future harvests.

Special Use Permits

Each year, the Forest Service receives thousands of individual and business applications for special use authorizations on public lands we manage. Situations requiring special use permits include:

You are required to have a Special Use Permit even when the use or activity is not intended to produce a profit. Apply for a permit at the local ranger district where the event or activity will take place. The ranger district reviews applications on a case-by-case basis and approval is not guaranteed. Basic requirements include technical and financial capability, payment of a fee, and insurance listing the US Government as additionally insured.

  • Recreation Residences

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    Recreation residences are privately-owned cabins on National Forest land, authorized by special use permits. These cabins are not available for public use. For more information, call (406) 587-6701 for Recreation Residence Program Manager.

Federal Interagency Recreation Passes

icons for interagency passes offered at districts

Interagency Recreation Passes cover recreation fees nationally, at federal recreation areas such as national forests and grasslands. They can also be used at national parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands. They cover facility use and services at many day-use sites on US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. Visit recreation passes to learn about the variety of pass options available. You can purchase passes at most National Forest offices, or online through the USGS Store (processing fees may apply).

Fee-Free Days

The Forest Service waives recreation fees at most day-use sites on lands managed by the agency. Participation by concession-operated sites may vary. The 2022 dates are:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Jan. 17, 2022
  • President's Day: Feb. 21, 2022
  • National Get Outdoors Day : June 11, 2022
  • National Public Lands Day : Sept. 24, 2022
  • Veterans Day: Nov. 11, 2022