Backpacking Washington

2022 Washington Backpacking Reservation Dates

If you’re like me, the first part of each year is all about planning where I’ll go backpacking in the summer. One of my favourite places to go backpacking is Washington state. And many of the most spectacular backpacking trips in Washington require reservations. So I’ve put together a complete list of the 2022 Washington backpacking reservation dates you need to know.

Put these dates in your calendar! (Or if you’re like me, agonize over which trip to pick since they all sound amazing!)

I’ve got Washington backpacking reservation dates for you for 4 different areas in Washington including the Enchantments, Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, an Olympic National Park.

Plus I’ve also got details on how to reserve, which trails I recommend, and my top tips for getting those hard-to-get reservations.

Quick Calendar

Trail/ParkWhen to ReserveWhere to Reserve
Enchantments (Alpine Lakes Wilderness)TBA (Likely February 15 to March 1, 2022)Online
Mount Rainier National ParkFebruary 21 to March 7, 2022Online
North Cascades National ParkTBAOnline
Olympic National ParkSix months before your tripOnline

Enchantments Backpacking Reservations for 2022

The Enchantments, Washington. Find out how to reserve campsites on this trail: Washington and BC Backpacking Reservation dates you need to know
Prussik Peak and Leprechaun Lake, Enchantments, Washington

What: The Enchantments are a high alpine area in Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Most people do a 19 mile (30km) thru-hike to see the whole area, but numerous side trips are also possible. For a full guide to the area check out Clever Hiker’s Enchantment Lakes Backpacking Guide.

When to Reserve: Enchantments reservations work on a lottery system. Dates for the 2022 lottery have not been announced yet. But in 2021, you could apply for the lottery between February 15 and March 1, 2021. Then, you would check back on March 17, 2021 to see if you “won” the lottery and got a reservation. You had until the end of March to convert your lottery win to a reservation.

Where to Reserve: Online on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website.

How Much Do Reservations Cost: There is a $6 application fee plus a $5/person/night fee if your application is accepted.

Do You Have to Reserve? Yes. In previous years 30% of permits were available to walk-ups. However, in 2021 that policy ended. Instead 30% of permits were available for reservation one week in advance.

Tips and Tricks For Getting a Reservation: The Enchantments are one of the most difficult Washington backpacking reservations to get.

  • Pick a start date in the middle of the week.
  • Consider applying for the Snow Zone or the Colchuck Zone and then day hiking into the Core Zone, instead of applying for a difficult-to-get Core Zone permit.
  • Get everyone in your group to submit an application to increase your chances.
  • If you don’t win a permit in the original lottery, check back at the end of March – sometimes people who win the lottery forget to convert their win to a reservation.

Mount Rainier National Park Backpacking Reservations for 2022

Mount Rainier. Find out how to reserve campsites on this trail: Washington and BC Backpacking Reservation dates you need to know
Mount Rainier” by skeeze. Used under Creative Commons CC0

What: The crown jewel of Mount Rainier National Park is the 93 mile/105km Wonderland Trail which circumnavigates the mountain. If you aren’t up to the entire Wonderland Trail, you can tackle shorter sections of it or backpack on some of the parks other trails. Find out more on the Mount Rainier National Park website.

When to Reserve: Mount Rainier permits work on a lottery system. Submit your lottery application between February 21 and March 7, 2022 for the summer season. All reservation requests during this period go into a lottery for priority. If you don’t enter the lottery, you can make reservation applications starting April 25, 2022.

Where to Reserve: Online via Recreation.gov. You will receive an email on March 14 if you “won” the lottery. It will include information on how to confirm your reservation.

How Much Do Reservations Cost: There is a non-refundable $6 lottery fee, and a $20 reservation fee.

Do You Need to Reserve? It’s a good idea. Approximately 2/3 of backpacking and climbing permits are made available for advance reservation for trips between June 1 and September 30. The remainder are first-come, first-served.

Tips and Tricks For Getting a Reservation: 

  • Submit several alternative itineraries.
  • You can only submit one reservation request per person so consider having everyone in your group submit requests.

Olympic National Park Backpacking Reservations for 2022

Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park. Find out how to reserve campsites on this trail: Washington and BC Backpacking Reservation dates you need to know
Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park

What: Olympic National Park is a huge park with a variety of rainforest, alpine and beach backpacking trips. For beach backpacking trip ideas, check out my guides to the beautiful coastal backcountry areas of Ozette Loop, Toleak Point, and Shi Shi Beach. For a complete list of trails, see the Olympic National Park website.

When to Reserve: Six months before your trip.

Where to Reserve: Reserve online via recreation.gov.

How Much Do Reservations Cost: Reservations are $6/trip. You will also need to pay wilderness fees of $8/person/night.

Do You Need to Reserve? Yes and No. Some areas of the park are 100% reservable (such as the popular Ozette Coast). Others are only 50% reservable. There are also areas where no reservations are accepted. To get a walk-up permit for the areas that aren’t 100% reservable you can go to a ranger station either the first day of your trip or the day before your trip.

Tips and Tricks For Getting a Reservation:

  • You need an account on recreation.gov to make a reservation so set one up in advance to save time on the day.
  • Consider going on coastal trips in the off-season (before May 1 or after September 30th) when reservations aren’t required but the weather can often be good.

North Cascades National Park Backpacking Reservations for 2022

East Bank Trail in North Cascades National Park. Find out how to reserve campsites on this trail: Washington and BC Backpacking Reservation dates you need to know
East Bank Trail in North Cascades National Park

What: North Cascades National Park is a huge park with tons of backpacking options, most of them high in the mountains. Reservations are not required for the more remote corners of the park. But if you want to visit the most popular areas, a reservation is a must. You can find info on all the trails on the North Cascades National Park website. Looking for trip ideas? Check out my trail guide for the East Bank Trail on Ross Lake.

When to Reserve: This park is implementing a new reservation process for 2022. Details are not yet available but I will update this post when they are announced.

Where to Reserve: Online via the North Cascades National Park website.

How Much Do Reservations Cost: TBA

Do You Need to Reserve? No. About 60 percent of the available wilderness permits can be reserved while the remaining 40 percent are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. To get a walk-up permit you need to go to a ranger station either the first day of your trip or the day before your trip.

Tips and Tricks For Getting a Reservation:

  • Come up with lots of alternative itineraries.
  • You can only submit one reservation request per person so if cost isn’t an issue, consider having a few people in your group submit requests.

So there you have it: 2022 Washington backpacking reservation dates for 4 different parks. How many of these parks have you done already? Tell me in the comments. I’ve been backpacking in all of them except Mount Rainier National Park. But the real question should be: which of these parks do you want to visit next? (My answer might be all of them. Eep.)

READ NEXT:

I’ve got trail guides for a few hikes in Washington’s parks

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