There are countless backcountry routes and possibilities at North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Come to paddle on the turquoise waters of glacially fed lakes, backpack to remote passes or climb rugged mountains carved by ice.
The diversity of climate and geography creates very different habitats on the west and east side of the crest, as well as fostering a great array of plants and animals. Cascading water is fed by over 300 glaciers and countless snowfields. Lakes are abundant. Almost 400 miles (644km) of trails, mostly in major drainages and over high passes, traverse this tremendous landscape. Your path may follow a route used for many centuries by people who have long crossed these mountains or sought food and resources here, or you may venture to an area so wild it feels as if you are the first explorer.
The North Cascades National Park Service Complex includes 684,000 acres in three units: North Cascades National Park, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and Ross Lake National Recreation Area. Congress has designated 94% of the Complex as the Stephen Mather Wilderness. People seek wilderness for many reasons: physical or mental challenge; solitude, renewal, or a respite from modern life; or as a place to find inspiration and to explore our heritage. Today, as in the past, wilderness is an important part of everyone's story.
North Cascades National Park Backcountry Permits Early Access Lottery will open for applications on March 4, 2024 at 7 a.m. PT and close March 15, 2024 at 9 p.m. PT.
Early Access Lottery applicants will be notified of their award status beginning March 22, 2024. Please check the email address associated with your Recreation.gov account for your notification or login to your Recreation.gov account to view your award status.
A permit is required year-round for all overnight stays in the backcountry. A backcountry permit allows the permit holder and their group to camp in a designated camp or area. Reserved permits must be picked-up in person by 11am on the start date of the trip, or the reservation will be cancelled.
Approximately 60% of backcountry sites are available for advance reservation for trips during peak season, see dates below. Reservations must be made at least 2 days in advance of the trip start. The remaining 40% are issued through a walk-up permit on a first-come, first-served basis at a permit issuing station. See below for information on the Early-Access Lottery and other important dates.
Backcountry permits outside of the peak season are first-come, first-serve. When the Wilderness Information Center is closed, permits are issued by self-registration .
Visit Plan Your Visit for more information.
When planning your trip, please keep the following in mind:
Leave No Trace
Please follow all principles of Leave No Trace including: Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors.
Adults (16 and older) - $10 per person
Youth (15 and under) - free
The reservation fee is charged to apply to the Early-Access Lottery, make a reservation during the General On-sale, and get a walk-up permit.
Only debit or credit cards will be accepted, no cash.
You may cancel your reservation three or more full days before your reservation date and receive a refund. The $6 reservation fee is non-refundable.
You may make changes to your permit itinerary, if space is available, up until the day before your reservation date. Your start date cannot be changed without cancelling your permit and starting over. Once your permit has been issued, you cannot make changes to the permit unless approved by a ranger.
One additional permit holder can be identified when the reservation is created. Otherwise, reservations and permits are non-transferrable.
7280 Ranger Station Rd Marblemount WA 98267
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