Passes & Permits

Photo of Hungry Horse Dam, Flathead National Forest.Passes and Permits

Are you ready to recreate on your National Forest lands?

Detailed information can be found at our Washington Office Recreation Passes and Permits page to help you determine whether the expense of your recreational activity is covered through Forest Service funding or requires a fee to help pay for the facilities and services that you will be using. This page will help you understand where fees exist and the variety of pass and permit options available to you.

To make the best choice on which pass to purchase, you should think about your recreation plans for the next year. You have options like simply buying a single day pass, a multi-day pass, or even an annual pass that covers a forest or region. If you plan to recreate in many different spots across the nation, an Interagency Annual Pass may be your best value. You may also qualify for one of the Interagency Lifetime Passes (Interagency Senior Pass or Interagency Access Pass).

The Interagency Recreation Passes can save you dollars when you visit federal recreation areas such as National Forests and National Parks, and recreation sites administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These passes do not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires such as the reservation fee that is charged by the National Recreation Reservation Service and other reservation contractors or concessionaires for campgrounds and other recreational facilities or activities.

About Recreation Fees

More and more people recreate on National Forests and Grasslands every year. Meeting the increasing needs of these visitors, delivering quality recreation, heritage and wilderness opportunities, and protecting natural resources has become challenging. To help address this issue, President Bush signed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA). The Act permits federal land management agencies to continue charging modest fees at campgrounds, rental cabins, high-impact recreation areas and at day-use sites that have certain facilities.

Recreation Site Facility Master Planning
(RS-FMP) Project

While the Northern Region provides a wide array of recreation opportunities, some recreation sites on the forests and grasslands are beginning to see the effects of time and years of use. Many of the Forest Service's developed recreation sites were built some 30-50 years ago, and are reaching the end of their designed life. Please visit our RS-FMP page for more detailed information about this planning process.


More permit information can be found at each Northern Region Forest Office.

Firewood Cutting Permit

Firewood Cutting permits may be purchased at your local Forest Service Office. The cost for firewood cutting permits varies per forest. The permit allows you to cut down standing dead or downed timber on National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands within Montana and Northern Idaho. Firewood obtained under this permit is intended for personal use only. It may not be used for commercial resale. Any additional restrictions will be listed on each permit. Please inquire at your local Ranger District office regarding commercial firewood permits.

Christmas Tree Permits

Each year from mid-November through December, your local Forest Service Office sells permits that allow you to cut a fresh Christmas tree on National Forest Lands. Fees for the permit vary at each local office. The permit allows you to cut one tree for your holiday festivities. It also helps the Forest Service thin tree stands that have a concentration of smaller trees.

Commercial Filming Permits

National Forests and Grasslands around the country can provide an excellent backdrop for a filmmaker seeking a natural setting for their film or television production. The Northern Region of the Forest Service asks that anyone interested in producing a film for anything other than personal use to first contact the Forest Service at least two weeks in advance of the anticipated filming.

Permits are generally not required for covering late breaking news, such as a wildfire or search and rescue operations. Still photography typically does not require a permit from the Forest Service, as long as that photography doesn’t use models, sets or props or takes place at a location that requires additional administration.

Special Use Permits

Special Use Permits provide services supporting our national policy and federal land laws by authorizing uses on National Forest System (NFS) lands.

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