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Passes and Permits


Recreation Passes

National Passes

The America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands are a suite of annual and lifetime passes that provides U.S. citizens and visitors an affordable and convenient way to recreate on Federal recreational lands. They cover the use of amenities and services at many day-use sites on US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. They also can be used at national parks, wildlife refuges, and other federal lands. 

There are several pass options to consider. Visit the USGS Online Store for detailed information about the America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands suite of annual and lifetime passes, and consider whether purchasing a pass as this time is the right decision for you.

Search a list of all federal recreation sites, including national forests, where the passes are issued.

Local Passes

A couple enjoys the view and the recreation available at the campgrounds at Wade Lake in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

National Forests and third parties such as private businesses and organizations offer an additional option to purchase a local pass, search recreation passes and permits site to find a location.

Please remember when making your purchase that the recreation passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, cannot be extended and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.

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 2024 dates are:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 15, 2024

  • National Get Outdoors Day June 8, 2024

  • Juneteenth June 19, 2024

  • National Public Lands Day September 28, 2024

  • Veterans Day November 11, 2024

About Recreation Fees

The Forest Service offers places for hiking, biking, skiing, nature viewing, scenic drives, and for gathering forest products such as mushrooms, 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. Requirements may vary. The best place to start to find the answers is on your destination forest or grassland website.

Recreation Fee Types

Recreation fees, authorized by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, enables federal land management agencies to reinvest the following types of fees back into the recreation sites:

Standard Amenity Fees

Examples: Picnic areas, developed trailheads, destination visitor centers

Pass Coverage: Yes.  Pass coverage does vary at concessionaire-managed sites

Expanded Amenity Fees

Examples: Campgrounds, highly developed boat launches and swimming areas, cabin or lookout rentals. Services like hookups, dump stations, special tours, transportation systems and reservation services.

Pass Coverage:  No.  However, holders of Senior and Access Passes do receive a 50% discount for single family campsites.

Special Recreation Permits

Examples: Shooting ranges, special events, specialized trail systems

Pass Coverage: No. However, some exceptions do exist.

Recreation Permits

The Forest Service may require recreation permits when extra measures are needed to protect natural or cultural resources, to restrict the number of people participating in the activity at any one time, to provide extra safety or for other specialized services. These permits may be issued to individuals as “Special Recreation Permits.” Examples are:

  • Off-highway vehicle riding

  • Boating on designated Wild and Scenic Rivers

  • Rock climbing

  • Wilderness areas that have limited access

  • Shooting ranges

  • Groomed cross-country ski trails 

Special Use Permits:

A girl paddle boards Wade Lake with her dog in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Special Use Permits grant certain rights or privileges to occupy and use a specific area. These permits contain specific terms and conditions that the permit holder must follow.  They are issued to profit and non-profit organizations and include:

  • Group activities that have 75 or more people or if a fee is collected for the activity

  • Outfitting and guiding

  • Recreation events, such as weddings, family reunions and bicycle races

For information about permits required to conduct business on national forests, please visit Special Uses.