Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to raise fees at park sites

Recreation sites are opening for Memorial Day and the summer rec season, but if you are heading to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, be prepared to pay a little extra.

The park is bumping up fees and adding new ones to sites across the National Forest, some of which go into effect over Memorial Day weekend. Officials conducted a public comment period in Summer 2021, then brought that input to the Resource Advisory Committee in October.

"Raising fees will help offset the increased costs of maintenance at the sites. We are grateful for the support we received to make these changes," said Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail. "This is a much-needed adjustment, as the last time fee increases occurred on recreation sites in the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest was in 2010."

New $5 and $10 fees have been added to sites around the forest, and most $8 fees have been bumped up to $10 or $15. The Entiat Ranger District has some substantial hikes; Silver Falls group site will go from $60 to $125, Three Creeks campground from $8 to $40, and North Fork campground from $10 to $75.

The Northwest Forest Pass, Interagency Annual Pass and other day-use passes will still be accepted at day-use fee sites, park officials say.

 "Recreation fees and money collected from overnight rentals and campgrounds is kept on the forest to operate and maintain these sites. Besides routine operation and maintenance, monies are used to chip away at major projects to reduce backlog maintenance, fix old or install new picnic tables and toilets, and more," said Forest Recreation Program Manager Suzanne Cable.

The new fees will not start at the same time for all sites—some are currently closed for maintenance, upgrades or fire impacts. Other sites still need fee collection sites set up before payments can be collected.

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"It takes time to get to sites ready and some sites may have sustained damage over the winter that takes longer to repair," said Cable. "Although many trails have melted out, we had several late season snow storms this year, so please be patient and prepared for patches of snow and down trees blocking trails during the early part of the season and until late summer for higher elevation areas. It's important to check conditions before your visit to ensure the location you have in mind is open and accessible."

You can find a full list of fee changes on the U.S. Forest Service website.