Which Permit Do I Need to Park and Recreate?
Potential ski and snowshoe areas along Mt. Baker Highway represent a crazy quilt of land ownership and permit requirements.
Note: The Discover Pass is not helpful for any of the winter recreation areas on the Mt. Baker Highway. Save it for use at many other Washington State facilities.
Salmon Ridge SnoPark: SnoParks are administered by the State of Washington, Department of Parks and Recreation, regardless of the ownership of the land. A Daily or Seasonal SnoPark pass is required. The Salmon Ridge SnoPark consists of the large parking lot on road left at mile 46.8, AND the parking on the right side of the road at the entrance of the Silver Fir Campground and start of the Anderson Road trail, including the shoulder of the main highway. The USFS, WA State Patrol, and Whatcom County Sheriff all ticket vehicles. Purchase at: Forest Service Office in Glacier (confirmed, winter 2016-17); Cross Roads Grocery in Maple Falls (confirmed, winter 2015-16); REI @ Bellingham; Online from WA State; Nooksack Nordic Ski club when paying for membership.
Hannegan Pass Road: The parking area for this road is on the left side of the main highway, BEFORE crossing the bridge over the North Fork of the Nooksack River (about mile 46.5) While NNSC grooms part of Hannegan when it is not being driven on, it is NOT part of the SnoPark. It remains a USFS fee area all winter. You need one of the Federal permits, with the orange hang tag being most common (or the ‘Forever Pass’ if you are 62+!). Vehicles with only a SnoPark permit may be ticketed. Purchase at: the USFS office in Glacier (by machine, when office is not open); Forest Service Office in Sedro Wooley.
White Salmon Road: NNSC grooms this Forest Service road. It has limited parking on a dangerous curve and no facilities. But it is higher elevation with great mountain views and it is free.
Mt. Baker Downhill Ski Area: Heather Meadows, White Salmon Lodge. The parking lots used (and cleared by) the downhill ski area are open to the public. The upper lot at Heather Meadows has a wonderful, propane-warmed potty at it! It is appropriate to attempt to leave the spaces closest to the lodges for the downhill skiers.
Other Locations: If you just drive up a logging road and park on the shoulder at snow line, you’re most likely in good shape. However, if you are at or near a trailhead, you may be in a Federal fee area. Looks for signs along roads and nearby trailheads. You also might be at one of the ‘floating’ SnoParks maintained for snowmachine users (eg. Canyon Creek, Glacier Creek).