Winter Policy & Procedures

Ice Fields
Ice Fields in Basin

Winter in the Park is often a beautiful and peaceful time, the size and wildness of the Park's landscape also make winter a time for special concern and careful use of the Park. For those that enjoy the winter environment and are prepared for it's extremes, the Park is a favorite destination. The Park provides lots of information and advice on how to use the Park successfully. Behind all of this advice we have a competent and professional ranger staff - please contact if you have any additional questions.

Winter Camping Reservations can be made anytime after November 1 by mail or in person at Baxter State Park Headquarters Winter Reservation Form Get Adobe Reader. All reservations, whether mailed or walk-in, must be received in our office at least 7 working days in advance of your trip.

Important Information Links:



Winter Season:
December 1 - March 31.

Winter camping, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing:
Camping in authorized campsites (lean-tos, tentsites, bunkhouses, cabins or picnic-areas); skiing or snow-shoeing on overnight trips below treeline.

Winter mountain hiking and climbing:
Any trip above treeline or off marked trails, including ice or snow climbing.

Ski-mountaineering or snowboarding:
Any use of skis or snowboards above treeline.

Activities Subject to Winter Procedures:

Day-use: No special permission is required for one-day trips below treeline. Visitors should check in and out at the self-registration boxes, or at Park Headquarters (by phone, if more convenient). Registration seven business days in advance is required for all day-use climbs above treeline on Katahdin. This can be achieved by telephoning BSP Headquarters (207)723-5140 during normal business hours before your trip with Leader name and itinerary information. Park Headquarters is open Monday-Friday 8am-4pm and is closed holidays and weekends in the winter season.

Winter camping, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing; winter mountain hiking and climbing; and ski-mountaineering or snowboarding (that is, any winter overnight use, or any winter above-treeline travel, including day-use) requires a winter registration form and is subject to these administrative policies and procedures and paperwork submitted to BSP Headquarters at least 7 working days prior to the trip.

Party Size and Composition

There is no minimum group size. Those wishing to camp and/or climb solo (alone) must submit completed "Winter Solo Camping Form Get Adobe Reader" with the original reservation request, or with the Chimney Pond Ranger if climbing solo but functioning as a member of a pre-existing camping group. The "Solo Camping and Climbing Form" does not authorize a winter climber to participate in unprotected free solo climbing on technical terrain (routes that would normally be climbed with the use of ropes and means of protection).

The maximum winter party size is ten (10). For administrative purposes, winter party applications will need a designated leader.

Other Rules

Camping is permitted only by reservation in authorized sites. Parties must register with the Ranger at Chimney Pond, or self-register at unstaffed Ranger stations or upon arrival at any campsite.

Winter parties must have confirmed camping reservations (including all paperwork and full payment submitted) at least seven (7) working days prior to the actual start of the trip. The BSP Reservations office begins accepting and processing winter reservations for the upcoming season on the first business day in November each year.

Recommended Equipment

Because of the likelihood of extreme weather conditions in Baxter State Park in winter, and because rescue of injured persons may be delayed for hours or days, the following equipment is recommended as part of every winter visitor's basic kit.

(A) Winter camping gear (personal):

  • Showshoes or skis, and repair materials
  • Insulated pacs or mountain boots (not summer boots)
  • Sleeping bag rated for winter conditions
  • Sunglasses or snow goggles
  • Pack
  • Matches or other fire-starting device
  • Food (with two-day reserve)
  • Warm clothing
  • Topographic map and compass
  • Flashlight or headlamp

(B) Winter camping gear (group):

  • First aid kit
  • Axe and/or camp saw
  • Outdoor thermometer and wind-chill chart
  • Snow shovel

(C) Winter mountain hiking, climbing, ski-mountaineering or snowboarding gear- in addition to winter camping gear - (Remember: a winter registration form is required for day trips above treeline):

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Helmet
  • Climbing rope (one per party of two/four)
  • Sleeping bag or bivi sack (one per party of two)
  • Climbing equipment appropriate to terrain
  • Baxter State Park highly recommends that you bring appropriate avalanche assessment and safety equipment, along with a competent working knowledge of how to use it.

The weather classification system provides a daily weather and safety evaluation and sets Park access or restrictions for the public. The daily coding system is based on current weather and projected weather forecasts. All users of Baxter State Park are urged to call or stop at Park Headquarters in Millinocket, or the closest occupied Ranger Station, for weather forecast and classification information.

All backcountry users have a personal responsibility for their safety in the wilderness and should always base their decisions on getting back on their own. Prevention, not treatment, is the key. The Baxter State Park Authority may request reimbursement of search and rescue costs in cases of reckless behavior. All winter parties must carry their winter reservations with them and all members must have a photo ID available to present to any BSP Ranger upon request.

The staff at Baxter State Park is committed to helping make your trip a safe and successful experience. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. Thank you.