Recreation Passes & Permits

The Forest Service offers places for hiking, biking, skiing, nature viewing, scenic drives, and for gathering forest products such as firewood, and Christmas trees. Many of the facilities and services associated with these opportunities are free. However, some do require fees or permits to help maintain, manage and improve your national forests and grasslands.

In general, you can purchase many of these passes and permits at any Forest Service office near you.

Forest Permits

Please select from the following options to learn more.

Campfire Permits

National Forest System lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin are under year-round fire restrictions. This means wood and charcoal fires are only permitted within metal fire rings in developed campgrounds, such as Fallen Leaf or Nevada Beach. Propane appliances with an on/off valve are allowed with a valid California Campfire Permit.

SNO-Park Permits

The SNO-Park program is coordinated and administered by the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program Division of California State Parks, in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service, the California Department of Transportation, the California Highway Patrol, and various community organizations. Learn more about this collaborative effort and the winter recreation opportunities provided at the 18 SNO-PARK sites along the Sierra Nevada by visiting State of CA SNO-Parks web page.

Wilderness Use Permits

One roadless inventoried area and five wilderness areas are located in or near the Lake Tahoe Basin. Permits are required year-round for both day and overnight use in most of the wilderness areas. The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit manages Meiss Country roadless area and shares management duties of Desolation Wilderness with the Eldorado National Forest, and the Mt. Rose Wilderness with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The Granite Chief Wilderness is managed by the Tahoe National Forest. The rules and regulations vary in each area. Visit the links below for specific information and how to obtain a permit to visit these national treasures.

National Recreation Passes

Interagency Annual Pass 2019 - Every Kid Outdoors Interagency Annual Military Pass Annual Senior Pass Lifetime Senior Pass Interagency Access Pass Interagency Volunteer Pass

National passes are honored nationwide at Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard and expanded amenity fees.

There are several pass options to consider. To make the best choice on which pass to purchase, you should think about your recreation plans for the next year.

  • Your best value may be a single-day pass.
  • Or if you’re a frequent visitor to one or more sites, a multi-day pass or annual pass that covers a forest or region may be the best buy.
  • An Interagency Annual Pass may be your best value if you plan to visit many different federal lands across the nation that include lands managed by other federal agencies.
  • You may also qualify for one of the Interagency Lifetime Passes (Interagency Senior Pass or Interagency Access Pass).
  • The "Every Kid Outdoors" pass gives fourth graders free access to 2,000-plus federal recreation sites. Detailed information about that pass is available on the Every Kid Outdoors site.
  • Active military personnel and their dependents also qualify for an Interagency Annual Military Pass.

The USGS Store provides Frequently Asked Questions about Recreational Passes. For more information about permits and passes, see our national Recreation Fees and Passes website.


  • Fee revenues make a difference
    Thank you. Your fees make a difference!

    National Forests in California are using recreation fee revenues to improve and enhance recreation opportunities. See how your fees have made a difference!