Climbing Permits

To align with state and local measures directing people to stay home to save lives, all Gifford Pinchot National Forest campgrounds, day-use sites, trailheads, Sno-Parks, cabin rentals and other developed recreation sites will be temporarily closed. These closures have been deemed necessary to address social distancing guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the State of Washington to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and to avoid putting undue pressure on emergency services in local communities. Certain roads leading to heavily-used dispersed camping areas have also been temporarily closed. These roads include Forest Service roads 81, 83, and 90 with limited exceptions for local residents, fire and other emergency response, and permit holders.

Campsites and cabin rentals will not be able to be reserved through Recreation.gov. The forest has ceased sales of permits to climb Mount St. Helens on Recreation.gov for dates through the end of April, and permits already sold for climbs to take place now through April 30 have been cancelled and their permit fees refunded. Reservation and permit holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages if there are any changes affecting their reservation. Refunds will be issued by Recreation.gov for cancelled reservations and permits. Climbing Permits for May 1 or after are still valid at this time.

As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our number one priority.  We are committed to continuing to support our communities, local emergency services, state governor’s orders, and fulfill our mission as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19. 

2020 climbing permits are sold through Recreation.gov 

Permits will be administered by the US Forest Service and Recreation.gov. Mount St. Helens Institute will continue to provide climber information.

Did you attempt to or successfully purchase climbing permits for the 2020 season? We want to hear from you!

Please fill out this survey.


At 8,328 feet high (as measured by USGS in 2009), Mount St. Helens offers climbers a breathtaking view from the crater rim. Although it is not a technical climb, it is strenuous and hazardous due to ice, large boulders, loose pumice, fast-changing weather and volcanism. Climbers should be in very good physical condition, well equipped, informed about volcanic hazards, and have plenty of water and food.

The Mount St. Helens Institute has partnered with the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to help protect the volcano’s fragile features and to ensure climbers have a safe, low-impact experience on the volcano.

Before climbing Mount St. Helens, please read climbing rules, road and trail conditions, and other important information from the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.


Climbing permits are required year-round on Mount St. Helens. A Climbing Permit allows an individual or group (max size limit of 12) to be in or upon the area defined as the Mount St. Helens Closure Area #2 (PDF) during the 24 hour period designated by the permit.

To reduce crowding and protect natural features, the number of climbers per day on Mount St. Helens is subject to a quota from April 1 to October 31. 

During the quota season, permits must be purchased online in advance. A permit may be printed up to 14 days before your reservation date. Once your permit has been printed, you cannot make changes. Outside the quota season, permits are free of charge and self-issued at the trailhead.

April 1 - May 14: 500 climbers/day. Must be purchased online in advance.

May 15 - October 31: 100 climbers/day. Must be purchased online in advance.

November 1 - March 31: Unlimited climbers. Permit is free and self-issue at the trailhead.


Climbing permits during the quota season cost $15 per person per day. A $6 reservation fee is charged per transaction.

Permits are one per Group, rather than one per individual.

The Permit Holder (the purchaser) of the climbing permit can make a reservation for up to 12 total climbing Group Members. The Permit Holder must be included in the climbing group.

The Permit Holder must provide the names of all Group Members at the time of purchase. While climbing Group Members' names can be adjusted after the purchase, the Permit Holder name cannot be changed nor refunded without cancelling the entire permit. All climbers in the Group must carry a government-issued photo ID that matches their name on the list of members on the purchased permit.

Every year millions of visitors use Recreation.gov to plan, reserve and share their experiences in national forests, national parks, and other public federal lands. Recreation.gov hosts more than 3,000 campgrounds nationwide, including 18 on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.