Time to Start Planning your Olympic National Park Backpacking Experience!

There is nothing quite like exploring Olympic National Park’s backcountry. From Staircase to Seven Lakes Basin, out to Quinault and Shi Shi Beach, the wilds of Olympic offer unrivaled beauty for those lucky enough to backpack out there. Whether you are a fan of the seven most stunning trips into Olympic’s Backcountry, or prefer to find somewhere else to pitch a tent for the night or seven, one thing is for sure- everyone needs to have an Olympic backpacking experience. That is why we are sharing an important press release from Olympic National Park to make sure you get the campsite you desire.

From Olympic National Park: The summer wilderness backpacking season is rapidly approaching and 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. These quotas minimize human impacts and provide a quality wilderness experience.

To have the best chance in making advance reservations, keep the following important tips in mind to help you successfully reserve a permit for your trip:

Olympic National Park wilderness camping permit reservations are made online at recreation.gov.

The reservation system is on a rolling six-month window. This means that on January 28 you can reserve a camp area for a trip beginning July 28 or earlier. Reservations become available on recreation.gov at 10:00am EST/7:00am PST.

Once you book the first night of your trip recreation.gov will allow you to complete your itinerary even if the rest of the dates are beyond the six-month reservation period. But be forewarned: You cannot change the start date of your trip unless you clear the dates and start again.

Seven Lakes Basin only allows advance reservations for July 15 through October 15 due to 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 through October 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 your trip.

If the sites you would like to reserve are not available on recreation.gov, reserve the best trip that you can. Inquire when you arrive if there are any cancellations or if any walk-up quota is available. During the busy summer season it is rare, so plan the best trip possible.

Even if the camp sites you are visiting do not have a maximum number of spaces available (non-quota), reserving your permit in advance will save you time when you arrive at the park to pick up your permit. Remember, you will still need to pick up your permit at a Wilderness Information Center before you begin your 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.

For more information about wilderness permits and backpacking in Olympic National Park, please visit the park website at nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm. 


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