The summer wilderness backpacking season is rapidly approaching, and representatives with Olympic National Park say planning ahead is critical. Many of the most popular wilderness camp areas in the park have limits for how many people can camp on any given night, they note, and these quotas minimize human impacts and provide a quality wilderness experience.
To have the best chance in making advance reservations, park officials suggest these tips to successfully reserve a permit:
• Olympic National Park wilderness camping permit reservations are made online at recreation.gov
• The reservation system is on a rolling six-month window; meaning on Feb. 5 you can reserve a camp area for a trip beginning Aug. 5 or earlier
• Once the first night of a trip is booked at recreation.gov, users can complete an itinerary even if the rest of the dates are beyond the six-month reservation period (note: user cannot change the start date of a trip without clearing dates and starting again).
• Seven Lakes Basin only allows advance reservations for July 15-Oct. 15 because of snowpack; some high elevation camp areas on the east side of the park, such as Royal Basin and Upper Lena Lake, only allow advance reservations for June 15-Oct. 15 (permits for dates outside these time frames can be picked up in person at a Wilderness Information Center up to 24 hours in advance of a trip)
• If the site desired are not available on recreation.gov, inquire when you arrive if there are any cancellations or if any walk-up quota is available
• Even if campsites do not have a maximum number of spaces available (non-quota), reserving a permit in advance will save time when one arrives at the park; even with reservations, park users still need to pick up a permit at a Wilderness Information Center prior to one’s trip
The park transitioned to the online reservation system in March 2019. The new system allows backpackers to check the availability of sites in real time, plan their trip and receive immediate confirmation and has streamlined the park’s wilderness permit reservations, park officials said.
For more information about wilderness permits and backpacking in Olympic National Park, visit nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/ wilderness-trip-planner.htm.