Olympic National Forest

Learn about camping and boondocking at Olympic National Forest, Washington

Olympic National Forest, Camping Rules

Olympic National Forest, Camping Rules


These official rules and regulations for camping at Olympic National Forest were gathered from Orders issued by the Supervisor of Olympic National Forest, along with information published by the U.S. Forest Service, and from the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations…

campbell tree grove campground, olympic national forest
Campbell Tree Grove Campground, Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest, Camping Rules

Passes and Permits

Purchase of passes or permits are not required for boondocking (dispersed camping) inside most of Olympic National Forest.

Areas Off-Limits to Camping

Olympic National Forest allows camping anywhere and everywhere inside of its boundaries. However, the forest may close certain areas from time to time depending upon the season, potential for fire, or to repair roads. Refer to the latest forest orders to find out which areas are currently closed. (See, “Forest Orders”, Olympic National Forest).

Maximum Length of Stay

As of June 15, 2020, the maximum length of stay for camping inside Olympic National Forest is as follows (See, “Forest Orders”, Olympic National Forest)…

  • 21 days per year in areas outside of developed campgrounds.
  • 14 days per stay (no per year limit) inside developed campgrounds.

Campfire Restrictions

Campfires are allowed for much of Olympic National Forest. Campfire permits are not required. But there are certain areas where campfires are restricted, and certain times when there may be burn bans in place…

Gathering Firewood

You’re free to gather dead and down firewood to build a campfire while camping at Olympic National Forest. (See, Forest Products Permits, Olympic National Forest).

  • You may not cut down standing trees, dead or alive.
  • You cannot transport any wood for home use or for resale (a permit is required).

Camping Setbacks

When camping outside of developed campgrounds (see Dispersed Camping, Olympic National Forest)…

  • Your campsite must be 200 feet or more from a body of water (lake, pond, stream, river)
  • Your campsite must be 1/4 mile or more from a developed campground or trailhead.

Fireworks and Explosives

Lighting off fireworks and explosives is prohibited year-round at Olympic National Forest. (see, Rules and Regulations, Olympic National Forest)


You can bring your guns into Olympic National Forest for target shooting and self-defense. There are rules that apply, however. (see, Rules and Regulations, Olympic National Forest)…

  • You cannot shoot inside or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area.
  • You cannot shoot across or on roads or bodies of water, or where people or property are exposed to injury or damage.
  • You cannot shoot into a cave.
  • You cannot shoot into areas that cause resource damage. Don’t shoot trees, rocks, stumps, or non-game animals.
  • Firing tracer bullets or incendiary ammunition is prohibited. (see, CFR Title 36, Chapter II, § 261.5 Fire)

Vehicle Rules

Vehicles are required to remain on routes designated on Olympic National Forest’s “Motor Vehicle Use Maps”. (see, Rules and Regulations, Olympic National Forest)…

Motor Vehicle Use Maps

These are the Forest’s official road maps. They indicate which roads are open to street-legal vehicles only, and which are open to both street-legal and non-street legal vehicles. For further discussion on this read, “How to Use Motor Vehicle Maps (MVUM) to Find Free Camping“.

Nude Camping

Olympic National Forest does not address the subject of public nudity in addition to regulations concerning “Disorderly Conduct” (see below).

However, state laws still apply to U.S. Forest Service lands…

  • The Revised Code of Washington under (RCW 9A.88.010 Indecent exposure.) prohibits someone from intentionally exposing themselves in an open or obscene way while also knowing that such exposure will cause reasonable affront or alarm. This excludes breastfeeding or expressing breast milk. (see, Indecent Exposure, Washington State Legislature)

Disorderly Conduct

The following are acts prohibited (see, CFR Title 36, Chapter II, § 261.4 Disorderly conduct)…

  • Inciting others into violence,
  • Fighting, and
  • Causing public inconvenience, annoyance, or creating alarm by making unreasonably loud noises.

Flying Drones

Drones (unmanned aircraft systems UAS) are allowed inside Olympic National Forest. The Forest does not have any additional rules aside from the national rules adopted by the U.S. Forest Service. Below is a summary of the national rules (see Know Where to Fly, U.S. Forest Service)…


Pets are allowed inside Olympic National Forest, with certain restrictions.

  • Outside of developed areas (campgrounds, trails, trailheads), pets do not have to be leashed or confined, however they must be under your control at all times.
  • Inside developed areas, pets have to be both leashed or confined, and under your control at all times.

Sanitation Rules

The following are prohibited (Reference, CFR Title 36, Chapter II, § 261.11 Sanitation)…

  • Possessing or leaving behind, trash, litter, debris in an exposed, unsanitary condition,
  • Dumping sewage or waste water (gray water) on the ground, and
  • Bringing in trash from home to dump into a forest trash container.

Pooping into a hole is still permitted. Olympic National Forest requires you to dig at least six inches deep, and at least 200 feet from a body of water. (see “Dispersed Camping”, Olympic National Forest).

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