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Inyo Forest Wilderness Permits

Hiking in Mammoth Certain areas in Mono County and the Inyo National Forest require permits. Mt. Whitney is the # 1 place and in order to limit the damage the trails get, there are quotas and reservations necessary. It is all geared to protect the forest while allowing as much traffic as it can take before they deteriorate.

We've listed the various Forest Service agencies and it is simple to call them and ask if the trails you plan to hike, backpack or climb need permits. Do make the call and avoid a fine or penalty.

Wilderness Permit Applications

Reservations are generally accepted up to six months in advance of the date of entry for all trails. Reservations (phone, fax and mail) will be accepted no later than two days before your planned entry into the wilderness and up to six months in advance. Keep in mind that with mailed applications, your request must reach the office in time for them to process your application. If you are applying within a week of your trip date, it may be prudent to apply via fax or phone. Contact the local ranger office to secure yours. A fee is charged for a confirmed wilderness permit reservation. This fee is necessary to defray some of the costs of the reservation system.

Mt. Whitney Trail

The Mt. Whitney trail is by lottery during the month of February. Due to it's popularity, the amount of hikers on the trail are limited by a quota from May 1 though November 1. The entire daily quota is reservable in advance and day-of-hike cancellations are difficult to obtain. The Whitney Portal area is not part of the wilderness and contains developed campgrounds, a store, a fishing pond, and picnic area. There is a fee and you should make sure you have your permit before you venture out. Be aware that your permit does not cover overnight camping at the Whitney Portal.

Ansel Adams, John Muir, Dinky Lakes Wilderness

These areas now have quota systems in place. If you are venturing out to Sample Meadow, Deer Creek, Billy Creek, and Potter Pass in the Kaiser Wilderness as well as Cottonwood Pass in the Golden Trout Wilderness check ahead of time with the local area rangers about their quotas and permit process. If you are using a commercial guide service make sure to inquire whether they will be obtaining the permit, or if you have to. There are limits to both commercial and non commercial trail hikers. The quota period is generally from the last Friday in June through September 15.

The methods of obtaining reservations for quota space differ between east and west side entry points and is described below. If you are using the services of any commercial outfitter/guide for any activity including backpacking, mountain climbing, and horse packing, the commercial operator must reserve quota space for you. These numbers will help you get the most accurate information and the proper forms.


Phone Numbers
Reservation Line - 760-873-2483
Commercial Reservation Line - 760-873-2492
Wilderness Permit Office FAX - 760-873-2484
Wilderness Information - 760-873-2485

Wilderness Information from Ranger Stations/Visitor Centers
Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center - 760-647-3044
Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center - 760-924-5500
White Mountain Ranger Station - 760-873-2500
Easter Sierra Inter-agency Visitor Center- 760-876-6200

Sierra National Forest Permits

Westside entry reservations are different than eastside entry. For specific information and procedures please call the appropriate Ranger District office well in advance of your hike. It could take 4 weeks for processing and receipt of a proper wilderness permit.
Area of Travel Location to obtain permit
Ansel Adams Wilderness-North Trailheads North of Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River Minarets/Mariposa Ranger District
57003 Road 225
North Fork, CA 93643-9734
(559) 877-2218
Ansel Adams Wilderness-South
Trailheads South of Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River John Muir, Kaiser and Dinkey Lakes Wildernesses
Pineridge/Kings River Ranger District
P. O. Box 559
Prather, CA 93651
(559) 855-5360
(TDD) (559) 855-5367

Help protect the wilderness resource by camping and burying human waste at least 100 ft. away from water and meadows.

Trails are usually snow-free from early July through mid-October. BE PREPARED FOR RAIN, HAIL OR SNOW ON ALL HIKES, EVEN DAY HIKES. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer and often have lightning. Rain gear, good boots, warm clothes and a first aid kit are essential.

All water in the Sierra Nevada should be treated for Giardiasis, a water-born cyst that causes severe intestinal disorders. Boil or filter all water. Carry water or a portable filtration system.

Generally, campfires are discouraged and prohibited in the wilderness. Where campfires are permitted, use only dead wood, keep fires small and make sure fires are out with water, not dirt. You know what Smokey The Bear says... Thanks for being a shepherd of the forest.


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