Mount Whitney Lottery - Permit Reservations
Enter the lottery to reserve a backpacking trip on the Mt. Whitney Trail, or a day hike in the Mt. Whitney Zone. Applications are accepted from February 1 through March 15.
You are limited to one trip from the lottery. Do not submit multiple applications for the same date/ group. If you wish to reserve multiple trips in the same year, additional reservations can be made starting April 1. skip to Lottery Time Line.
Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the wilderness permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit.
Can I change my date? Will there be snow on the trail?
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions and Application Tips
Reservation website: www.recreation.gov General Rules for Mt. Whitney
Two permits are in the lottery:
Day Use in the Mt.Whitney Zone
Overnight - Mt. Whitney Trail
Day use and overnight permits are not interchangeable, you must have a permit for the type of trip you are doing.
Day Use – Mt. Whitney Zone
If the entire trip will be on one calendar date and you will enter the Mt. Whitney Zone, a Day Use permit is required. Day Use permits are required for all routes including access to Mountaineer’s Route, East Face/Buttress routes, or Mt Russell. Consecutive day use permits are not allowed. If a trip is more than one calendar date an Overnight permit is required.
Overnight -Mt Whitney Trail
Overnight or multi-night trips require an Overnight permit. This includes trips that cross into Sequoia National Park to continue on the John Muir, Pacific Crest or other trails. A Day Use permit cannot be used to pass through the Mt Whitney zone as part of an overnight trip. An Overnight permit to use the Mt Whitney trail does not include other routes.*
*Note, Overnight- Mt Whitney Trail permit does NOT give access to Mountaineer’s Route, East Face/Buttress routes, Mt Russell or locations on the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Trips that will end at Mt. Whitney but started somewhere else, are not in the lottery.
Trail Information: "Hiking the Mt Whitney Trail” brochure.
Mt. Whitney Trail - North Fork Lone Pine Creek - other Inyo National Forest trails
Not all trips to Mt. Whitney are in the lottery. If your trip is overnight and you’re not going up the Mt Whitney Trail to start, it's not reserved in the lottery. These permits can be reserved online up to 6 months in advance at www.recreation.gov
- Look for “Inyo National Forest- Wilderness Permits” to find our list of trails. This list includes trails that do not go to Mt. Whitney. Check the trail description and maps when choosing a trail.
- Look for “North Fork of Lone Pine Creek trail” to access the Mountaineer’s Route, East Face, East Buttress, Mt. Russell and all other climbs in this isolated canyon.
- Look for a permit type with “Exit Mt Whitney” for trips that will finish at Whitney Portal, but started on one of the listed trails. Exit via the Mt Whitney Trail (Trail Crest to Whitney Portal) has an exit quota that will apply to the date you finish at the Portal. Reserve the entry trail and exit quota all in one reservation. You cannot use a day pass for an exit permit.
- Look for a permit type with “Visiting Mt Whitney” for trips that will visit the Mt Whitney Zone but will not exit via the Mt Whitney trail.
Trips starting in Sequoia, Kings Canyon or Yosemite National Parks, contact the park where you will begin. The permit issued by the park is valid for the entire trip, including Mt Whitney.
Feb 1, 2015 to March 15, 2015 -Enter lottery online at www.recreation.gov (closes on March 15 at midnight Eastern time)
March 16 - All the lottery applications are processed in a random lottery. New applications not accepted until April 1.
March 24 - Results can be viewed on line, check your account.
April 1 - Reservations open for remaining space and lottery acceptance begins.
Onsale opens at 7 am Pacific Time (No phone reservations)
Acceptance period opens for 30 days. Cancelations and declined space will be added to the reservation calendar within 24 hours at random times.
April 30 – Last day to accept and pay for lottery reservations (closes at midnight Eastern Time)
May 1 -All unclaimed dates are canceled and released for web reservations (within 24 hours at random times).
Lottery Progress- as of Feb 24, 2015
6,607 applications have been entered requesting permits for 31,104 people. Next report will be after March 4.
Last Years Lottery 2014- 11,634 applications entered; 4,473 were successful.
After the Lottery
The lottery is followed by open reservations for the remainder of the season. All dates can be viewed on the Recreation.gov website. If a date displays the letter R, that date is fully reserved. There is no wait list. However, space from cancelations or group size reductions will be made available within 24 hours of cancelation. Web reservations can be made until two days before the entry date. No-Show and late cancelations are available for walk in permit requests at the visitor center.
What is the frequency of cancelations and no show?
2014 Mt Whitney Day Use and 2014 Mt Whitney Trail Overnight
Changing a Reservation
Changes to group size can be made online after April 1 if space is available. Corrections to itinerary or exit location can be done when the permit is issued. Reservations cannot be resold or transferred to other groups. To change entry date or permit type, reserve the trip you desire and cancel the trip you do not want.
There are no refunds. You pay new reservation fees if you cancel and rebook. Fees /No Refund Policy
Obtaining Your Permit
Mt. Whitney permits are issued at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center. Only the leader or listed alternate leader can pick up or use the permit. Show photo ID when requested. Winter trips starting before May 1 do not need reservations. link to Permit Pickup Instructions.
Lottery Results- Accept or Decline
The deadline to claim a date won in the lottery is April 30, 2015. Log into your account on Recreation.gov March 25 to view lottery results. Between April 1 and April 30 open your lottery application and accept or decline. Only accept a reservation that you’re interested in using. You cannot change the date, leader or permit type.
Lottery reservations will be canceled unless you complete the acceptance and pay the $15 per person reservation fee before midnight, Eastern Time on April 30, 2015.
Accept- To accept your date, you need to complete trip information and pay the $15 per person reservation fee. Fees are final after checking out the cart. No Refunds.
- Itinerary: For overnight trips longer than one night, verify your Exit Date and Exit Trail. John Muir trail hikers should indicate the final destination date and exit point for the permit to include the entire trip.
- Group size: You may reduce your group size. The reservation fee is based on the number of people accepted.
To complete the acceptance, check out the shopping cart and pay the fees.
Decline-If you’re not interested in using the date awarded to you, decline the reservation and no additional fees will apply. Space from declined, canceled or reduced group size will be released for web reservations within 24 hours at a random time.
Still have questions about the lottery? Call the Wilderness Permit Office at (760) 873-2483 or by email (use Feedback Form) to Contact Us