Forest Permits

San Gorgonio Wilderness



To use a propane or gas stove, lantern or campfire outside a developed campground or recreation area, you need to obtain a California Campfire Permit. These are available at the Big Bear Discovery Center and all National Forest Ranger Stations. They must be picked up in person. The permit is valid in any National Forest in California, but it is always advised that you contact your local Forest Service facility and ask for the current restrictions since they often vary from region to region.

The permit is valid from the date of issuance to the end of the calendar year. Permission for campfires in remote or undeveloped areas is determined by the fire hazard conditions. When no significant dangers are present, stoves, lanterns and campfires are allowed in accordance with the regulations listed on the back of the Campfire Permit.

Fire hazard conditions are determined by:

  • The amount of fuel moisture in the trees and brush,
  • Local weather patterns.
  • The temperature.
  • Prevailing wind conditions.
  • Relative humidity




Wilderness Permits are required for access into the San Gorgonio, Santa Rosa, Cucamonga and San Jacinto Wilderness Areas. Only foot or equestrian traffic is permitted – no vehicles.

Permits to the San Gorgonio Wilderness area can be issued at the Discovery Center and the Mill Creek Ranger Station (909-794-1123). You need not make a reservation in person – The permit can be faxed or mailed to you.

To keep the Wilderness areas as pristine as possible, only a limited number of guests are allowed in at any one time. The 1964 Wilderness Act stipulated that a wilderness must provide “opportunities for solitude,” which is why visitorship is restricted. This wilderness area is semi-alpine and it’s very important to protect this fragile ecosystem.

Some of the restrictions:

  • No campfires
  • No camping or picketing stock within 200 feet of meadows, springs or streams
  • No camping in South Fork drainage
  • No camping within a ¼ mile of trails or established campgrounds
  • No disposing of garbage or waste
  • No shortcutting of trails or switchbacks
  • No use of a trail or campsite in a group larger than 12
  • No placing of any substance near streams or lakes which may pollute the water
  • No smoking except while seated in an area three feet in diameter that is clear of all flammable materials

You are required to have:

  • Wilderness Permit
  • Campfire Permit
  • Adventure Pass if you park a vehicle at a trailhead
  • Shovel or hand trowel to bury human waste or to clear a site for a Camp stove

Woodcutting Permits

($20.00 per 4 cords/subject to change)

Fuel wood gathering is allowed in the San Bernardino National Forest. However, there are carefully monitored restrictions:

  • The cutting seasons are usually from April 1 through December 1. These dates can change according to fire hazard and weather conditions.
  • Cutting is allowed only in designated area. Your local Ranger Station will give you a map when you purchase your permit.
  • Often there are limits within a designated cutting area. For instance, in the fall of 2000, only standing trees that had been marked with red paint could be harvested or “dead and down” trees less than 20 inches in diameter.
  • Always check for restrictions and the occasional “special sale.”
  • Unless special permission is granted, no living vegetation may be cut or taken.
  • Additional restrictions and obligations will be listed on the back of your map.
  • All portable chainsaws must have an approved, functional spark arrestor.
  • Chainsaws cannot be used in campgrounds.

Woodcutting permits are $25.00 per cord and each household is allowed 5 cords per season. A cord of wood is defined as a stack that is 4 feet high, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long (128 cubic feet). Each day of the week, before cutting, check with your local authority for the “Fire Activity Level.”

The Fire Hazard in the area determines these levels:

  • Level 1: Chainsaw cutting permitted all day (dawn to dusk)
  • Level 3: No chainsaw cutting after 1:00 PM
  • Level 5: No chainsaw cutting permitted all day




Pinecones are an important element in the Forest’s ecosystem. They provide food for many birds and animals, and are critical for seed distribution to regenerate the Forest. If you wish to collect some cones for personal use, we ask that you don’t take more than would fit in an average paper bag. To gather and remove more than this, a special permit would need to be issued.

Tree in the Forest

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