User Fees and Passes
In recent years, numerous state and federal parks, national recreation areas, trails, picnic areas, and other facilities have begun charging day-use fees, which are separate from overnight camping fees (the exception to this is camping at rustic campsites in national forests, which is covered by the Northwest Forest Pass). At sites that charge fees, the day-use fee is currently $3 per vehicle at state parks, $5 per vehicle at federal sites. Visitors can pay for day use at individual sites or purchase one of the annual passes described below.
Oregon Pacific Coast Passport
The best deal if you plan to visit many parks along the Oregon coast, the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport covers entrance, day-use, and vehicle parking fees at all state and federal fee sites along the entire Oregon portion of U.S. 101. It does not cover the cost of camping at state parks, which is a separate fee.
Two basic Passports are available, depending on your needs and preferences. An annual passport, valid for the calendar year, is $35. A five-day passport is $10. Passports may be purchased at welcome centers, ranger stations, national forest headquarters, national memorials, and state park offices. Call 800/551-6949 to purchase an annual pass by credit card or for directions to a convenient location near you.
State Park Passes
Another option that is valid for day-use fees at Oregon’s state parks that levy fees is to buy a one-year ($25) or two-year ($40) State Park Pass. It’s available from state park offices, at day-use fee booths, and by phone (800/551-6949). See the Oregon State Parks website (www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/dayuse_permit.shtml) for more details and a complete list of vendors.
Northwest Forest Pass
In response to major reductions in timber harvests and cutbacks in federal money, a revenue shortfall has made it hard to keep up trails and campgrounds at a time when the region’s population has put more demand on these facilities. The Northwest Forest Pass ($5 for 1 day, $30 for 1 year) is a vehicle-parking pass for the use of many improved trailheads, picnic areas, boat launches, and interpretive sites in the national forests of Oregon and Washington.
Funds generated from pass sales go directly to maintaining and improving the trails, land, and facilities. You will see “Northwest Forest Pass Required” signs posted at participating sites. Fees are collected at kiosks or machines. Passes are also available at many local vendors as well as by phone (800/270-7504). You can also order them online at www.fs.fed.us/r6/passespermits. You can also check this website before you head out to find out if a pass is required.
These passes are good at most Forest Service sites all over the Northwest, but they are not valid for campground fees (with the exception of rustic campsites), concessionaire-operated sites, or Sno-Parks.
Golden Passport Program
Most National Park Service sites, such as national parks and monuments, charge a fee for their use. You can pay an entrance fee at each site or park you visit, or you can participate in the Golden Passport Program, which offers three distinct passports. The annual Golden Eagle Passport ($65) allows the owner to use all Forest Service, Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife sites, as well as developed day-use sites and recreation areas.
The $10 America the Beautiful–National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass–Senior Pass is a lifetime pass covering entrance fees for U.S. citizens over the age of 62 (proof of age required). Passport holders also get a 50 percent discount at campgrounds, boat launches, and swimming areas.
The third pass, the free Golden Access Passport, is available only to those who are blind or permanently disabled (check with the forest service for eligibility requirements). It offers the same benefits as the Golden Eagle Pass.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel