Many of the trailheads here in Oregon require a Northwest Forest Pass for parking. This includes popular trailheads for PCT access, where passes are required for both dayhikes as well as extended outings. Passes must be obtained in advance of your trip by printing at home, or purchasing from partner retailers or regional ranger stations. Because of this, spontaneous trips are more challenging to pull off because of retailer and ranger station locations and hours, and lack of onsite pay stations.

Coming this spring, a new online system will allow you to purchase your Northwest Forest Pass on they fly—and avoid side trips and inconveniences on your way to the trailhead. The first area in Oregon to participate in this new program is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It is only the fourth federal recreation site (and first Forest Service site) to allow visitors to pay their fees using the new Your Pass Now system. It joins three National Park Service locations currently employing the system: Acadia NP, Theodore Roosevelt NP and Colorado National Monument.

“This new method provides the first paper-free, onsite payment option,” says National Scenic Area Manager Lynn Burditt. “This makes it more convenient than ever for people to connect with their public lands with the added benefit of streamlining our administrative process.”

Your Pass Now will allow you to pay the day-use fees on Forest Service sites in the Columbia River Gorge right on your smartphone. This includes many of the popular trailheads, such as Eagle Creek, Wahclella Falls and Dog Mountain, as well as the large Pacific Crest Trail parking area at the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks. Once you purchase your pass on your mobile device, rangers will be able to validate your payment and license plate online.

“There are still benefits to paying for a pass online before you head out to one of our recreation sites,” says Rachel Pawlitz, public affairs officer for the scenic area. “Reception may be spotty and in general we encourage people to plan ahead and avoid relying on cell phones and GPS for navigation. That said, you can’t beat the convenience of having this option once you reach the site.”

The new Your Pass Now website allows you to purchase your NW Forest Passes on your smartphone. The Columbia River Gorge is the first location in Oregon to employ this new system, with more locations coming soon.

The fees collected from NW Forest Passes help pay for recreation enhancement projects throughout Oregon and Washington, including visitor facilities, interpretive programs and trail maintenance. The Your Pass Now system adds a much-needed option for visitors who can’t easily obtain a pass through other methods. You can still purchase and print passes at home using the National Forest Recreation ePass system, or purchase at participating retailers.

This news update was provided by the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

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