Permit Pick Up Instructions
The group leader or alternate leader must check in at the visitor center to pick up the wilderness permit. Reserved permits can be issued one or two days before the trip. How to request a permit without a reservation is described under "Walk in Permits"
Mt. Whitney permits MUST be issued at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center near Lone Pine. This includes Mt. Whitney Day Use, Overnight on the Mt. Whitney Trail, and Overnight on the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek (access to East Face & Mountaineers Routes).
Wilderness permits for starting on all other Inyo National Forest trails can be issued at:
Commercial operators, contact the commercial desk at the wilderness office for your permits.
Trip Planning Links
~ Weather ~ Avalanche ~ Wilderness Trip Planning Guide
~ List of Trail Names & Quotas ~ Traveling in Bear Country
~ Leader Responsibility & Permit Policy
Permit Issuing Times
During the quota season
The following permits can be issued starting at 8:00 am:
- Walk-in permits for same day entry.
- Reserved permits for same day entry, or up to 2 days before entry date.
- Non-quota permits for same day, or up to 2 days before entry date.
The following permits can be issued starting at 11:00 am:
- Walk-in permits for next day entry.
- No show for same day entry.
- Trips using Trail Crest exit to end at Whitney Portal are issued based on entry date.
During winter, or non-quota season (November 2 to April 30) reservations are not needed. Walk in permits can be issued one or two days before the trip.
- During business hours permits are issued inside the visitor center.
- After business hours, self-issue permit forms are outside.
- Self-issue permits are only allowed for winter season.
Allow plenty of time to receive wilderness information, purchase maps or rent bear/food storage containers. At some locations a drawing is held to determine your place in line at busy times (8am, 11am) this includes reserved permits.
Save time and speed up the line, if reserved, know your reservation number. For walk-in requests, be prepared with more than one possible choice of trail and itinerary, and review leader responsibility in advance. Have the following information:
- Group leader name, address, phone number (show photo id when requested)
- Name of trail, entry and exit dates
- Number of people (includes children)
- Description of the car(s) at the trailhead (optional)
- Emergency contact phone number (optional) someone not going on trip.
Walk In Permits
Walk in permits must be requested in person at the visitor centers. During the quota season (May 1 to November 1) walk in permits cannot be issued more than one day before the entry date. Permits are issued for same day entry or for next day entry; you must enter on the date stated.
- Walk-in permits are subject to space available* at the time the permit request is processed.
- Person requesting the permit will be listed as the group leader. Leader must be a person going on the trip and must be in person at the visitor center.
- Group leader can request a permit for the whole group; all members of the group do not need to be present.
- Leader responsibility includes the terms in Permit Policy
- Walk in permit cannot be held by phone or web.
- No night box service for walk in permits.
- Walk in permit is free.
*The amount of space available for walk-in permits may vary. For all trails except Mt Whitney, 40% of the quota space is saved for walk-in permit requests. In addition, space from any reservations that did not fully book, cancelations, group size reductions, and reservations that are not confirmed or picked up (No Show) will be made available for walk-in requests. Some specific trails are identified as non-quota and are only limited by maximum group size.
For a list of trail names and their quotas, click here.
Reserved Permit Pick up Instructions
The final step for your reservation is to check in and pick up your permit before starting on the trail. Reservation will be CANCELED as a no-show if you do not confirm or pick up the permit before 10 am on the entry date. Please complete the following steps:
- Review the leader responsibility & permit policy.
- It’s recommended to confirm your group size before traveling to the area (or arrange for night box if arriving at night). Cell reception is poor in this area.
- Check weather and trail conditions.
- 1 to 2 days before your entry date, pick up the permit.
Confirm group size to prevent No-Show
This step can be completed up to 14 days before your trip and will hold your reservation past the no-show deadline, until close of business on the trip entry date.
1. Login to www.recreation.gov
2. Open details for your reservation record
3. Verify your group size (adjust the number of people if group is smaller)
4. Click the CONFIRM button
For assistance, call the Wilderness Permit Office at 760-873-2483
Pick up Reserved Permit
Check in at the visitor center up to two days before the trip entry date to pick up your permit. Provide your reservation number and identification when requested.
- Only the group leader or alternate leader listed on the reservation can pick up or use the permit.
- Group leader can pick up a permit for the whole group; all members of the group do not need to be present.
- Leader responsibility includes the terms in Permit Policy.
- No-show space will be given to other groups, and space may not be available if you arrive late. Confirm your group size to hold your reservation until close of business on entry date.
- For faster service, avoid busy walk-in permit issuing times at 8:00 & 11:00 am.
Night Box Pick-up
Each visitor center has a night box located outside, where reserved permits can be placed for you to retrieve. You must make arrangements in advance; night box is not automatic. Trips traveling overnight into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are not eligible to use the night box.
Requesting night box service does not guarantee delivery of your permit. Visitor Center staff do their best to place the requested permits in the box, however the box is opened multiple times each night and occasionally a permit gets lost. If you wish to guarantee your permit is issued directly to you, please come to the visitor center during open hours.
Call for Night Box (760) 873-2483, a few days before the trip and provide your reservation number, itinerary, and confirm your group size. Allow time to receive wilderness information and directions for the Night Box.
- Leader must retrieve the permit; reservation is not accepted as proof of permit.
- Permits are put in the box the night before your trip. If your permit is not in the box, you must return to the visitor center the next morning to replace the permit. Space is not guaranteed if your entry date is past.
- Rental bear /food storage containers cannot be left out for night pickup.
- Phone line is open 8am to 4:30. Avoid busy times at 8:00 am, noon, and 4 pm. for faster service.
The group leader is responsible for picking up the permit and relaying the wilderness information to the group members. Mt. Whitney permits include tags for each person to carry on the trail. The permit can only be used by the person the permit is issued to. Show photo identification when requested. A reservation receipt is not proof of having a valid reservation or permit.
You are agreeing to the following permit policy when a wilderness permit is issued to you.
~ Group leader must have the permit with them during the trip.
~ The group leader signing the permit is responsible for ensuring that everyone in the group follows all of the rules and regulations during the wilderness trip.
~ Reservations or permits cannot be sold or transferred to other parties. Only a listed alternate leader can replace the group leader.
~ Group must start on the entry date and location stated in the permit.
~ Large groups cannot exceed group size limits even if they have separate permits.
~ Each trip requires a new wilderness permit; there is no season pass.
~ The National Interagency Pass or Golden Eagle Pass is not a substitute for specific activity permits, like a wilderness permit. There are no discounts for wilderness permits.
~ All people count for wilderness quotas and fees; prices are not different for children or seniors.
~ Reservations can be made until two days before the entry date. A lottery is held for Mt. Whitney reservations, for trails other than Mt. Whitney, reservations can be made starting six months in advance.
~ All remaining space is available for walk-in permits one day before the entry date.
Still have questions?
Call the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Office.
Phone line is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm.
Open daily May 15 to October 15
Winter season - closed on weekends and holidays.