Inyo National Forest - Frequently Asked Questions

On this page you'll find some of the most commonly asked questions about the Inyo National Forest. Each question is a link which can be followed to view the answer.

  1. Can I camp outside a designated campground?
  2. How Can I Get a Camping Space?
  3. Can I have my dog in the campground or on a trail?
  4. Do I need a permit to hike in the wilderness?
  5. How do I get a permit to hike/climb Mt. Whitney?
  6. When can I visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest?
  7. How can I see Bristlecone Pines?
  8. How can I purchase maps or books of your area?
  9. What does "Inyo" mean?
  10. What are the fishing, hunting and firearm regulations on the Inyo National Forest?

 


 

 

Can I camp outside a designated campground?

Camping is allowed outside of designated campgrounds in some areas on the Inyo National Forest. In areas designated as "Developed Recreation Areas," camping is restricted to developed campgrounds only. These areas include the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, Lundy Canyon, Lee Vining Canyon, June Lake Loop, the Mammoth area, Reds Meadow area, Convict Lake, McGee Creek canyon, Rock Creek Canyon, Bishop Creek Canyon, Big Pine Canyon, Onion Valley, Whitney Portal, Horseshoe Meadows, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and any Research Natural Area. For more information, please contact the Ranger Station or Visitor Center nearest the area in which you are interested.

For areas where dispersed camping is allowed, you need to obtain a California Campfire Permit for the use of any open flame (including gas stoves, lanterns, wood fires, charcoal fires or smoking). These permits can be obtained at no cost from any Inyo National Forest Ranger Station or Visitor Center. Open flame of any kind may be restricted during times of high fire danger; check with the local Forest Service office for current restrictions.

How can I get a camping space?

Most of our Inyo National Forest campgrounds are open only between the end of April and the end of October each year (some campgrounds are open longer than others). Most of our family campgrounds are first-come/first-served, but some sites do accept reservations. Weekends and some weekdays between July 1 and Labor Day will be very busy and it is recommended that campers arrive at their campgrounds by Friday afternoons for the best chance of getting a site. Group campsites are available with prior reservations at many places throughout the Inyo National Forest.

To make a reservation at either a family campground or a group campsite, contact the National Reservation Recreation Service at 1-877-444-6777 or on the internet at http://www.recreation.gov. Not all campgrounds that are reservable are reservable for the entire time that the campground is open. Please check with the NRRS for reservable dates.

Most campgrounds have a maximum stay limit of 14 days, but this can vary. Please contact one of our Ranger Stations or Visitor Centers for more information.

top

 

Can I have my dog in the campground or on a trail?

Traditionally, National Forests have welcomed dogs. However there are a few rules that apply to assure that you and other National Forest visitors have an enjoyable outdoor recreation experience. If you are camping with your pet, please practice the following (these rules will be enforced in developed recreation areas and wilderness areas):

  • Leave vicious or unusually noisy dogs at home.
  • During the day keep your dog on a leash no more than 6 feet long, or otherwise restrict its freedom to roam at will.
  • At night keep your dogs and other pets inside an enclosed vehicle or in a tent.
  • Developed campgrounds are for people, not animals. Please do not bring more than two dogs or other pet to any one campsite.

Do I need a permit to hike in the wilderness?

Wilderness Permits are required, year-round for day use entering the Mt. Whitney Zone and all overnight trips into the John Muir, Ansel Adams, Hoover and Golden Trout Wildernesses. May 1 through November 1 a daily entry quota applies to the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses. For the Golden Trout, Hoover and South Sierra wildernesses, there is a combination of quota periods and non-quota trails. Wilderness permits are issued at our Visitor Centers. For questions about permits or reservations, please call the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Office at 760-873-2483.

top

 

How do I get a permit to hike/climb Mt. Whitney?

Because of the popularity of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States, wilderness permits are required year round for ALL trips, including day hikes. The number of visitors is limited during the quota period from May 1 through November 1. Reservations are recommended for trips in June through September. A lottery held in February is the first opportunity to reserve these permits. Any remaining openings after the lottery can be reserved until two days before the trip date. One day before the trip, any remaining space will be available to walk in visitors at the Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center south of Lone Pine. During the non-quota period, self-issue permits and waste disposal kits are available at the visitor center. It is also possible to climb Mt. Whitney from other entry trails. For wilderness permit and reservation questions, please call the Inyo National Forest, Wilderness Permit Office at 760-873-2483.

When can I visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest?

The Ancient Bristlecone Visitor Center is only open during the summer and fall months (usually late May through October), but the road may be open earlier and later. If the road is open, you may visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest at any time. The road does close, however, during the winter months for our visitors' safety. The length of the road closure will vary depending on the amount of snow we receive, but generally the road will be closed AT LEAST 2 miles from the Visitor Center from late November through mid- to late April. The White Mountain Road is not plowed, so the closure could be as much as 10 miles from the Visitor Center area, depending on snow conditions. For current road closure information, please contact the White Mountain Ranger Station at 760-873-2500.

It is possible to ski or snowshoe along White Mountain Road to access the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest if the road is closed, but conditions can vary and visitors do so at their own risk.

top

 

How can I see Bristlecone Pines?

The Inyo National Forest is home to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to the oldest living trees in the world. Some of our bristlecone pines are nearly 5,000 years old and still living. The Forest is located to the east of Bishop and Big Pine in the White Mountains, close to the California/Nevada border. Visiting the area is a relatively easy day trip, but there are some things you should know:

Most visitors travel along CA State Highway 168 east from Big Pine, 13 miles to White Mountain Road. Ten miles north along White Mountain Road is the Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center, at Schulman Grove. Trails leaving from the Visitor Center will take you past the 4,000 year old trees. While the oldest trees are not identified, for their own protection, the oldest trees can be seen from either the Methuselah Trail or the Discovery Trail. Ten miles further along a graded dirt road takes you to the Patriarch Grove, where the largest bristlecone has been found. Travel time from Bishop to Schulman Grove is approximately one hour each way; to continue to Patriarch Grove will take another 45 minutes each direction. The road to Schulman Grove is a paved, two-lane road, but it is a winding mountain road and visitors should be aware of common mountain driving conditions.

The bristlecone pines can generally be visited from mid May to mid November, but road openings and closings are weather dependent and could vary. The normal winter closure for White Mountain Road is at Sierra Viewpoint, two miles before Schulman Grove. However, White Mountain Road is not plowed, so the closure could be as many as ten miles below Schulman Grove (at the junction with Hwy 168) after winter storms. For current road closure information, please call the White Mountain Ranger Station at 760-873-2500.

How can I purchase maps or books of your area?

The Inyo National Forest has an online store where you can purchase topo maps, forest maps, guide books, history books, CD-ROMs, bear canisters, bandanas and many other items before or after your trip to our area. To look at our inventory, please click on "Maps & Brochures" to the left. You can also call the White Mountain Ranger Station for more information at 760-873-2503.

During your visit, you can stop at any of our Visitor Centers to find books and maps of the local area.

What does "Inyo" mean?

The name "Inyo" comes from a Native American word meaning "dwelling place of the great spirit." It was used by local Native Americans to describe the local mountains, now known as the White/Inyo Range, to early settlers of the area.

The Inyo National Forest was named after Inyo County, in which much of the Forest resides.

What are the fishing, hunting and firearm regulations on the Inyo National Forest?

The California Department of Fish and Game regulates hunting and fishing on Inyo National Forest lands. Check with their office in Bishop at 760-872-1171 or look on the CA DFG website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/.

Most streams and lakes on the Inyo National Forest are open for fishing from the last weekend in April through the end of October each year. Some waters in southern Inyo County open in early March. The Owens River from Pleasant Valley Reservoir south is open to fishing year-round, although some special regulations apply in some areas. Contact the Department of Fish and Game for more information.

Hunting regulations vary depending on area and species. Contact the Department of Fish and Game for open hunting seasons.

The Inyo National Forest does restrict the use of firearms in some areas. Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury or damaging property is prohibited:

  • In or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area;
  • across or on a Forest Development road, hiking trail or body of water adjacent therto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge;
  • Within the wilderness, firearm use is not allowed except for emergencies and lawful hunting (as allowed by State law).

top