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.

Stack of Firewood

Please contact your local Forest Service Ranger District office for cost and permit information. The permit will be mailed or arrangement made for in-person appointment.


  • 4 cord minimum, 12 cord maximum, recommended firewood collection is between May and October. Permits are good for all forests within Montana and Northern Idaho. Keep permit handy while gathering/transporting firewood.
  • Dead down trees and logs as well as standing dead trees unless reserved from cutting
  • 6 foot maximum length
  • Chainsaws must be equipped with approved spark arrestor screen
  • During fire season (May 1 – Sept 30) all vehicles on NFS (National Forest System) lands must be equipped with a baffled muffler, serviceable tailpipe and should contain operable fire extinguisher (2.5 lb capacity, 4BC rating).
  • On site when collecting firewood: Shovel (45 inches long with minimum 6 inch blade), fire extinguisher (liquid/8 ounce capacity or dry chemical/ 1 lb capacity).


Get your tree permit online seasonally at Price is $5 per tree and service processing fee.

Person preparing to harvest a holiday tree; Christmas Tree Permits purchased online at

A coloring page states Bring Home a story with graphics of children playing in snow
Download this Coloring page for free!


CHRISTMAS TREEPERMIT GET YOURS AT RECREATION.GOV Cut down your own tree and bring home a story


  • Limit three permits per household.
  • Permits are good Forest-wide, except at developed recreation sites (cabins, campgrounds, picnic areas, national natural landmarks or trailheads) or wilderness and riparian areas to protect the resource, or active timber sales.
  • Stump height: 6 inches maximum - Please help low stump (cut close to the ground). When snow melts, tree stumps can cause harm, eyesores or tripping hazards.
  • Do not remove the top of the tree, cut down the entire tree. Max tree height - approximately 12 feet.
  • No cutting of 5 needle pines (i.e. 5 needles in one cluster).

Personal Use Post and Pole permits will be sold on a first come, first served basis in the spring. The location of the post and pole units will be given each year along with the authorized time for removal.

Available through Beartooth, Bozeman and Yellowstone Ranger Districts (Livingston office) or Musselshell Ranger District (Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Harlowton, MT). You must apply to the district where you will be collecting.

Landscape Rock personal use permits (required) are free and limited to 1 ton per person, unless otherwise specified. Please contact your respective ranger district for additional information.


  • 20 cubic inches (approx. 3” x 3” x 2”) of petrified wood per person, per calendar year.
  • Collection only within the boundaries of the Gallatin Petrified Forest Special Management Zone.
  • Expires December 31 of the year issued.

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