Recreation Passes & Permits

Pay StationThe National Forests in North Carolina offers activities such as hiking, biking and camping to name a few. Many of the facilities and services associated with these opportunities are free. Some do require fees or permits to help maintain, manage and improve the amenities that you enjoy. 


Recreation Fees

Recreation fees vary by site and type across the national forests. Payment is collected on site. Seasonal and/or annual recreation passes are available for some sites.  These include Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Areas/Trails, Rivers, Mountain Bike Trails, and Rifle Ranges. Please contact the appropriate Forest Service District office to inquire about these passes.

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Recreation Passes

There are a number of different types of recreation passes available. To make the best choice on which recreational pass or permit to purchase, you should first think about your recreation plans.

  • Is a fee required at the sites you plan to visit?
  • Are you visiting for one day, two days or more?
  • Are you a frequent visitor?
  • What recreation opportunities are you interested in?
  • Do you recreate on other federal lands such as National Parks where a fee is required for entry?

The answers to these questions will help you identify which type of pass or permit is right for you. Many sites on the National Forests in North Carolina are free. Some special amenity sites have a fee to use them. Frequent visitors may want a multi-day pass or an annual pass.

Certain recreation areas now have digital passes available on  Click here for list.

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Interagency Passes

If you plan to visit several fee sites, you may want to buy the Interagency America the Beautiful Annual Recreation Pass. Purchase it online and get more information about this and other passes such as the Senior Pass and the Access Pass at USGS online store. These passes are honored by the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation.

There are six types of Interagency Passes:

  • Senior Pass (Annual and Lifetime) for U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 62 years or older. 
  • Annual Pass (The Annual Pass does not cover Expanded Amenity fees such as camping, boat launching, parking, special tours, or special permits.)
  • Military Pass (Available to Current US Military, Veterans, and Gold Star families.)
  • Access Pass (A free, lifetime pass available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability - does not have to be a 100% disability) 
  • Every Kid in a Park 4th Grade Pass
  • Volunteer Pass (An Annual Pass awarded to those individuals who volunteer 250 hours at one or more recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies as a way to say thank you!)

Which Pass Do I Need?

Important Note:

Golden Access and Golden Age Passports are no longer sold. However, these passes will continue to be honored to the provisions of the pass. The Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority honor the Interagency Senior and Interagency Access lifetime passes only.