February 1, 2009 in Outdoors

Think ahead for coveted permits

Applications due for reserving spots at rivers, cabins, wilderness
By Rich Landers Outdoors editor
 
Rich Landers photo

Rafting the Selway River in Idaho requires considerable skill, wilderness self-sufficiency and advance planning to get one of the limited number of permits offered in a lottery drawing. RICH LANDERS
(Full-size photo)

A few new cabin options join the list of lookouts and other accommodations available in the region’s national forests this season, and reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Also, hikers and river runners who would like to visit some of the Northwest’s top wilderness areas and rivers this spring and summer had better be making applications for coveted permit drawings this winter.

The Clearwater National Forest has added at least two historic cabins to its popular rental program.

• Kelly Cabin on the North Fork Clearwater River, available by vehicle.

•Liz Creek Cabin off the Lolo Motorway in the Weitas Creek drainage, available by trail.

Gold Meadows Cabin just outside the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness was recommended for rental this summer, but it has not yet showed up on the national rental list. Also, the Avery and Shoshone cabins on the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District are up for rental starting this summer, but they are not yet available for reservation.

Cabin fees start at $40 a night, although a $55 fee is being charged for the Kelly Cabin because of its choice location in a popular river and fishing corridor.

Contact: National Recreation Reservation System, (877) 444-6777); www.recreation.gov.

River runners sometimes can obtain no-show permits and a portion of available permits sometimes are held back and issued on a daily basis at ranger stations, but locking in a reservation for a major river trip is key to planning.

Following are some of the most sought-after permits in the region.

Idaho’s Selway, Salmon, Middle Fork Salmon and the Snake River in Hells Canyon

•Deadline for applications: Monday. Details: www.fs.fed.us/r4/sc/ recreation/4rivers.

Montana’s Smith River, a classic multiday floating and fishing experience in Central Montana.

•Deadline for applications: Feb. 17. Details: www.fwp.mt.gov.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area’s Enchantment Lake Basin, plus Stuart, Colchuck, Snow and Eightmile lakes areas near Leavenworth, require a lottery permit for overnighting from mid-June through mid-October.

•Deadline for applications: March 1. Details: www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/ passes/enchantments or call Wenatchee National Forest Leavenworth office, (509) 548-2550.

Mount Rainier’s permits for the 94-mile Wonderland Trail that circumnavigates the mountain (beware that trail reconstruction will still be under way this summer in washed out areas).

•Deadline for applications: April 1. Details: www.nps.gov/mora/planyour visit/wilderness-camping- and-hiking.htm.


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