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USDA Forest Service
Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness Resources
Mail Stop 1125
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-1706

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Passes & Permits

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The Forest Service offers many activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, camping, birding, using cabins, driving for pleasure, harvesting mushrooms, and gathering firewood. 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 and Passes

This recreation fees and passes section will help you understand where fees and passes exist and the variety of pass options available to you. Recreation Fees and Passes Web Site


Recreation Permit Information

Recreation permits may be required when extra measures are needed to protect natural or cultural resources.

Recreation permits can include:

  • Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area/Trail
  • River
  • Wilderness
  • Rifle Range
  • Groomed Cross-Country Ski Trail
  • Group Activities*
  • Recreation Events*

* These activities have historically required a "Special Use Permit", which sometimes includes a fee and sometimes are free. The Recreation Enhancement Act allows funds from these fees to now remain where collected.

A Special Use Permit grants rights or privileges of occupancy and use to the holder. Examples include reserving a public site for a wedding party, or holding a bicycle race on public lands. These permits contain specific terms and conditions that the holder must follow.

Before Special Use Permits are issued, the Forest Service must determine that the proposed use complies with all management plans and laws, that there is a demonstrated need for the activity, and that the use is appropriate on national forest system lands. Special Use Permits are a temporary authority.


For information about permits required to conduct business on national forests, please visit the Special Uses area of our web site.


Fee Free Days

On these days, standard amenity fees at federally operated sites will be waived. Participation for concession operated sites may vary. The Forest Service is waiving standard amenity recreation fees at sites nationwide to celebrate three different events:


January 18, 2016 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

February 15, 2016 – President's Day

June 11, 2016 – National Get Outdoors Day

September 24, 2016 – National Public Lands Day

November 11, 2016 – Veterans Day



US Forest Service
Last modified August 09, 2022

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