Backcountry Permits for hiking the Wonderland Trail
Note: All inquiries regarding reservation availability should be directed to Mount Rainier National Park. This website has no affiliation with the National Park Service. We cannot help to arrange reservations.
For the most up-to-date info, please visit the National Park Service resources:
Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips in Mount Rainier National Park. Visit the National Park’s website for the most up-to-date rules and regulations or call the Wilderness Information Center at 360-569-6650.
Reservations for The Wonderland Trail
In brief, the park issues about 70% of the available campsites through a reservation system, and the rest on a first-come, first-served basis. They take reservations for the summer and fall beginning March 15th. There is a reservation fee of $20, and you will want get your request in early, especially if you plan to hike with a group.
The National Park reports that Friday and Saturday nights see the largest numbers of campers and advises planning your trip between Sunday and Thursday if you are doing just a section of the trail.
There are eighteen trail-side camps with water sources and pit toilets on the Wonderland Trail. When you apply for your permit, you need to provide your preferred itinerary, and the NPS will do what they can to accommodate. See the itinerary section for more info.
Rules on making changes
You must adhere to your permit itinerary unless you discuss changes with a ranger and it is highly likely you will have your permit checked a number of times. Besides protecting meadows from tents and getting trampled, the number of wilderness permits available does a wonderful job in regulating the flow of hikers through the trail system. Otherwise, the back country would surely become unbearably crowded certain times of the summer.
If you’re on the trail and you want to make a change to your plans, talk to any ranger that you pass. In my experience, they are extremely helpful and can radio the Wilderness Information Center to see if sites are still available at your preferred campground.
In addition to the reservation cost, you will also have to pay a $15 entrance fee to drive into the park unless you have an annual national parks pass.