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Now's the time to plan for summer adventures

This undated photo shows Steve Christensen, Mount Spokane State Park Ranger, on a fire lookout on Quartz Mountain in Mount Spokane State Park in Washington. The fire lookout was removed from Mount Spokane in 2001 has been restored and relocated on Quartz Mountain.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Winter is the season for thinking ahead to summer adventures that require a special permit or reservations.

Campers seeking to stay at popular national park or national forest cabins, lookouts and campgrounds generally can make reservations up to 180 days in advance of the date of arrival.

That means on-the-ball planners already are making reservations as far out as August at popular parks such as Glacier and Yellowstone or nifty rooms with a view such as Sex Peak or Gem Peak fire lookouts in the Kootenai National Forest.

Camping areas for large groups also can be booked in advance, including the Bartoo Island group site at Priest Lake.

Backpackers planning a trek into the Enchantment Lakes area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness southwest of Leavenworth also must apply for a lottery drawing before March 3.

These and other reservations, including many of the lottery drawing applications, are made on the National Recreation Reservation System, (877) 444-6777 or

However, not every choice destination is onboard with the national online system. For example, backpacking the classic Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier requires sending applications by letter or fax to the park.

Reserving the Red Ives Cabin on Idaho Panhandle National Forests — a lair especially popular with fly fishers — requires submitting an application to the St. Joe River District before Feb. 28. The application is available from Forest Service offices or online at; click on the Red Ives Quick Link. Applicants successful in the lottery drawing will be notified by the end of March.

Info: (208) 245-2531.

National forests throughout the country have many historic cabins and fire lookouts in their national rental program. Most are accessible by road but some must be reached by muscle power on a trail.

National forest cabin fees start at $40 a night, although a $55 fee is being charged for the Kelly Forks Cabin and $60 for Red Ives because of their choice locations along popular fishing streams.

Hogback Homestead, offered by the Lolo National Forest on Montana's Rock Creek east of Missoula and available through, is another facility on a nationally famous trout stream.

National park campsites and cabins also can be made through, but there are major exceptions.

Yellowstone Park, for example, has its own reservation system at or call toll-free, (866) 439-7375.

State parks have their own reservations systems, with great options ranging from Oregon Coast campsites to Idaho yurts.

Washington State Parks rents yurts, teepees, cabins and rustic shelters at 23 sites across the state, from Mount Spokane to the ocean beaches. While some can be easy to reserve in the offseason, they're very popular during summer. Make Washington State Parks reservations online or by phone at (888) 226-7688.

Quartz Mountain Lookout in Mount Spokane State Park is a hot local item with a premium price of up to $93 a night for a room with a view. Reservations are accepted up to nine months in advance for the June 15-Oct. 15 season. Details online,

Backpackers destined for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area's Enchantment Lakes Basin, plus Stuart, Colchuck, Snow and Eightmile lakes areas near Leavenworth, require a permit for overnighting June 15-Oct. 15.

Enchantment Lakes applications may be filed online before March 3 through The drawing is set for March 6. Application fees are $6. If drawn, a successful party is charged $5 per person before the permit is issued.

The online system will provide area information and alerts to notify people as their trips draw near about special conditions such as the wildfires that have temporarily closed the areas in past years.

For more details on the Enchantments permit system, go to

Mount St. Helens climbing permits, which went on sale in early February, are administered by Mount St. Helens Institute,, through an online vendor.

Mount Rainier National Park requires permits for climbing and wilderness campsites, and reservations are recommended. About 70 percent of the available wilderness permits can be reserved while the remaining 30 percent are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

All campsites along the 93-mile Wonderland Trail that circumnavigates the mountain are so popular, a special lottery is held. Applications received by letter or fax March 15-April 1 are processed in random order. Applications received by the park after April 1 are processed in order after the early applications are assigned. Details:

The original story can be found on the The Spokesman-Review's website:

Information from: The Spokesman-Review,