Get Out

Time to Buy Your Trail Passes

What you need, where to get it, and when you can get in for free.

By Allison Williams June 10, 2011

Your GORP is packed and your boots are laced, but before you go hiking, you need the right pass. (Remember that camping, backcountry, fishing, launching, and other fees often apply.)

America the Beautiful Annual Pass, $80 online
It’s good almost everywhere (and for up to four people per vehicle in the National Parks); it also works on Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management properties. Add on a "Recreation Pass" ($20) for access to state lands.
Buy it if: You’re not staying home or even inside for a single weekend this summer.
Bonus: Go fee-free on June 21 and September 24.

Mount Rainier or Olympic National Park Annual Pass, $30 each at park entrances
Score unlimited trips to the park of your choice this summer; since each visit will put you back $15, it can pay for itself quickly.
Buy it if: You have a favorite National Park, and you plan to show your loyalty.

Northwest Forest Pass, $30 at local vendors
For all those National Forests you want to visit, such as Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It’s good for Oregon as well. Score!
Buy it if: You plan to hike more than once this summer; you’ll need it at many popular trailheads across the Northwest.
Bonus: Go fee-free tomorrow (Saturday) and September 24.

Washington State Discover Pass, $30 at local vendors
There are 7 million acres of state-managed lands in Washington, and starting July 1, the daily fee is a full $10. (The penalty for sneaking in without it? $99.) Be set for a full year with the annual pass.
Buy it if: You’re a heavy boater, fisher, or state park visitor.

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