Deadlines are here for peak-season spots in mountains, parks, forests.
Now is the time to think ahead to summer adventures that require a special permit or reservations.
Campers seeking to stay at popular national park or national forest cabins, lookouts and campgrounds generally can make reservations up to 180 days in advance of the date of arrival.
That means on-the-ball planners are making reservations as far out as August at popular parks such as Glacier and Yellowstone or nifty rooms with a view such as Sex Peak or Gem Peak fire lookouts in Montana’s Kootenai National Forest.
Backpackers planning a trek into the Enchantment Lakes area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness southwest of Leavenworth also must apply for a lottery drawing before March 3.
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These and other reservations, including many of the lottery drawing applications, are made on the National Recreation Reservation System, 877-444-6777 or recreation.gov.
However, not every choice destination is onboard with the national online system. For example, backpacking the classic Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier requires sending applications by letter or fax to the park.
National forests throughout the country have many historic cabins and fire lookouts in their rental program. Most are accessible by road but some must be reached by muscle power on a trail.
National forest cabin fees start at $40 a night, although rates go up at choice locations such as Hogback Homestead, on a nationally famous trout stream in Montana’s Lolo National Forest (and available through recreation.gov).
Backpackers destined for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area’s Enchantment Lakes Basin, plus Stuart, Colchuck, Snow and Eightmile lakes areas, near Leavenworth, require a permit for overnighting June 15-Oct. 15. Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest oversees.
Enchantment Lakes applications may be filed online before midnight March 3 through recreation.gov. The drawing is set for March 6. Application fees are $6. If drawn, a successful party is charged $5 per person before the permit is issued.
The online system will provide area information and alerts to notify people as their trips draw near about special conditions such as wildfires. For more details on the Enchantments permit system, see fs.usda.gov/okawen.
National parks and monuments
National park campsites and cabins also can be made through recreation.gov, but there are major exceptions. Yellowstone National Park, for example, has its own reservation system at yellowstonenationalparklodges.com or call toll-free, 866-439-7375.
Mount Rainier National Park requires permits for climbing and wilderness campsites, and reservations are recommended. About 70 percent of the available wilderness permits can be reserved while the remaining 30 percent are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
Campsites along the 93-mile Wonderland Trail that circumnavigates the mountain are so popular, a special lottery is held. Applications received by letter or fax March 15-April 1 are processed in random order. Applications received by the park after April 1 are processed in order after the early applications are assigned. Details: nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/the-wonderland-trail.htm.
Climbing permits for Mount St. Helens (in Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument), went on sale in early February, administered by Mount St. Helens Institute, mshinstitute.org, through an online vendor.
State parks have their own reservations systems, with great options ranging from Oregon Coast campsites to Idaho yurts.
Washington State Parks rents yurts, teepees, cabins and rustic shelters at 23 sites, from Mount Spokane to the ocean beaches. While some can be easy to reserve in the offseason, they’re popular during summer. Make Washington State Parks reservations online at washington.goingtocamp.com or by phone at 888-226-7688.
Quartz Mountain Lookout in Mount Spokane State Park is a hot item with a premium price of up to $93 a night for a room with a view. Reservations are accepted up to nine months in advance for the June 15-Oct. 15 season. Details online, parks.wa.gov/423/Mount-Spokane-State-Park.