Forest Orders

Forest Orders are also available to view in-person at the Forest Supervisor and Ranger District Offices.

Forest Orders - Applies to Inyo National Forest

Rescinded Orders: 


Regional Orders -Applies to all forests in Region 5 (California)

General Regulations

In addition to forest and regional orders and Federal, State, and local laws, visitors are asked to follow these general rules to safeguard health and safety and to protect forest resources by practicing common courtesy and respecting others' experiences. Click on topic to learn more.

Audio Devices

The following are prohibited:

  • Operating or using in or near a campsite, developed recreation site, or over an adjacent body of water without a permit, any device which produces noise, such as a radio, television, musical instrument, motor or engine in such a manner and at such a time so as to unreasonably disturb any person (261.10i).
  • Operating or using a public address system, whether fixed, portable, or vehicle mounted, in or near a campsite, developed recreation site, or over an adjacent body of water without a permit (261.10j).

Business Activities

The following are prohibited:

  • Selling or offering for sale any merchandise, conducting any kind of work activity or service unless authorized by Federal law, regulation, or permit (261.10c)
  • Commercial distribution of printed material without a special use authorization. (261.10g).


The following are prohibited:

  • While in a developed recreation site, campground, or picnic area the following are prohibited: building, attending, maintaining or using a fire outside a fire ring provided by the Forest Service for such purpose or outside a stove, grill, or fireplace (261.16b)
  • Carelessly or negligently throwing or placing any ignited substance or other substance that may cause a fire (261.5a)
  • Causing timber, trees, slash, brush or grass to burn except as authorized by permit. (261.5c).
  • Leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it. (261.5d).
  • Causing and failing to maintain control of a fire that is not a prescribed fire that damages the National Forest System.(261.5e).
  • Building, attending, maintaining, or using a campfire without removing all flammable material from around the campfire adequate to prevent its escape.(261.5f).
  • Negligently failing to maintain control of a prescribed fire on Non-National Forest System lands that damages the National Forest System.(261.5g).

A California Campfire Permit is required to operate a portable lantern or stove using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel in undeveloped recreation areas. Campfires may be restricted during fire season. Campfire Permit Information.

Developed Recreation Sites

The following are prohibited:

  • Failure to pay any recreation fee. (261.17)
  • Occupying any portion of the site for other than recreation purposes. (261.16a)
  • Building, attending, maintaining, or using a fire outside of a fire ring provided by the Forest Service for such purpose or outside of a stove, grill or fireplace. (261.16b)
  • Cleaning or washing any personal property, fish, animal, or food, or bathing or washing at a hydrant or water faucet not provided for that purpose. (261.16c)
  • Discharging or igniting a firecracker, rocket or other firework, or explosive. (261.16d)
  • Occupying between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. a place designated for day use only. (261.16e)
  • Failing to remove all camping equipment or personal property when vacating the area or site. (261.16f)
  • Placing, maintaining, or using camping equipment except in a place specifically designated or provided for such equipment. (261.16g)
  • Without permission, failing to have at least one person occupy a camping area during the first night after camping equipment has been set up. (261.16h)
  • Leaving camping equipment unattended for more than 24 hours without permission. (261.16i)
  • Bringing in or possessing an animal, other than a seeing eye dog, unless it is crated, caged, or upon a leash not longer than six feet, or otherwise under physical restrictive control. (261.16j)
  • Bringing in or possessing in a swimming area an animal, other than a seeing eye dog.( 261.16k)
  • Bringing in or possessing a saddle, pack, or draft animal except as authorized by posted instructions.(261.16l)
  • Operating or parking a motor vehicle or trailer except in places developed or designated for this purpose. (261.16m)
  • Operating a bicycle, motorbike, or motorcycle on a trail unless designated for this use. (261.16n)
  • Operating a motorbike, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle for any purpose other than entering or leaving the site. (261.16o)
  • Depositing any body waste except into receptacles provided for that purpose.(261.16p)


You may fly Drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for hobby or recreational purposes in compli­ance with FAA regulations. (Section 336 of Public Law 112-95). USDA Recreational Drone Tips (pdf)

  • Drones must be flown below 400 feet and re­main clear of surrounding obstacles.
  • Keep your drone within your visual line of sight at all times.
  • Drones are considered to be both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport” and, as such, they cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated wilderness areas.
  • Keep your drone away from populated and noise-sensitive areas, such as campgrounds, trail heads, and visitor centers.
  • Do not approach animals or birds with your drone.
  • Obey all privacy laws.
  • Fly your drone at least 5 miles from an airport or backcountry airstrip. Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
  • Never fly your drone over or near any fire operation (wildfire or prescribed). Flights over fire operations disrupt aerial firefighting operations and create hazardous situations.   
  • Drones are not permitted to fly in areas that have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR).

More information:Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) | US Forest Service (

Fireworks and Firearms

The following are prohibited:

  • Discharging a firearm or any other implement capable of taking human life, causing injury, or damaging property: (1) In or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, or occupied area, or (2) across or on a Forest System road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge (3) Into or within any cave (261.10d).
  • Firing any tracer bullet or incendiary ammunition. (261.5b).
  • Discharging or igniting a firecracker, rocket or other firework, or explosive (261.16d).

Fish and Wildlife

Food Storage

  • Do not leave food, trash, or other attractants unattended. This includes items like toiletries, candy, chewing gum, cooking utensils, empty cans and bottles, wrappers, and pet food.
  • Where food storage boxes are provided, secure food and attractants in the box.
  • Do not approach or feed wildlife. Never store food in your tent.
  • Clean your site when you leave and deposit trash in bear resistant trash cans. Do not leave trash in food storage boxes.
  • If a bear causes property damage or obtains food please report the incident.
  • Look under Wilderness Food Storage for backpacking requirements.
  • Additional food storage information is at: Traveling in Bear Country

Pets and Animals

  • Pets must be always restrained or on a leash while in developed recreation sites.
  • Pets (except guide dogs) are not allowed in swimming areas.
  • Saddle or pack animals are allowed in recreation sites only where authorized by posted instructions.
  • Hitching, tethering or hobbling a horse that causes damage to live trees, soil, or water is prohibited.

Hiking and Camping with Dogs (pdf)


  • Do not carve, chop, cut, or damage any live trees.
  • Preserve and protect your National Forests. Leave natural areas the way you find them.
  • Enter buildings, structures, or enclosed areas only when they are expressly opened to the public.
  • Native American sites, old cabins, and other structures, along with objects and artifacts associated with them, have historic or archeological value. Do not damage or remove any such historic or archeological resource or other property of the United States, per the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. 

Public Behavior

  • No fighting or boisterous behavior.
  • Keep noise at a reasonable level. Please be considerate of fellow visitors.
  • Threatening, intimidating, or interfering with any forest employee is a federal offense.


  • Throw all garbage and litter in containers provided for this purpose, or take it with you.
  • Garbage containers, when provided, are reserved for the use of visitors to the National Forest, not visitors to or owners of private lands or lands under permit.
  • Wash food and personal items away from drinking water supplies. Use faucets only for drawing water.
  • Prevent pollution - keep garbage, litter, and foreign substances out of lakes, streams, and other water.
  • Use toilets properly. Do not throw garbage, litter, fish cleanings, or other foreign substances in toilets and plumbing fixtures.

Vehicle Operation

  • Obey all traffic signs.
  • State traffic laws apply to National Forest unless otherwise specified. License tags, insurance and DUI violations are strictly enforced.
  • When operating vehicles of any kind, do not damage the land or vegetation or disturb the wildlife.
  • Avoid riding or driving on unpaved roads or trails when they are wet or muddy.
  • Within campgrounds and other recreation sites, use motor vehicles only for entering or leaving. Recreational riding or driving is limited to specifically marked trails or areas. A maximum of two (2) vehicles per campsite is allowed.
  • Do not block, restrict, or interfere with the use of roads or trails, especially gated roads.
  • Obey area and trail restrictions on use of trail bikes and other off-the-road vehicles.
  • Off Road Vehicles or ATVs must stay on designated trails.

Wilderness Permit, Campfire & Food Storage

The following rules apply to visitors who enter specific congressionally designated wilderness areas. In order to preserve the solitude and tranquility of the backcountry there are additional Wilderness Rules.

Wilderness Permit Required

  • A wilderness permit is required year-round for day use in the Mt Whitney Zone [36 CFR 261.57(a)] and overnight use in the Ansel Adams, Golden Trout, Hoover, or John Muir wildernesses [36 CFR 261.58(e)].
  • Individual quotas are established by wilderness management plan and the permit system is the method used to ensure these quotas and group size limits are adhered to.
  • Group size limited to fifteen people (15) maximum, and 25 head of stock.
  • Quota in effect from May 1 through November 1 for the John Muir and Ansel Adams wildernesses.
  • Quota in effect from the last Friday in June through September 15 for the Golden Trout wilderness.
  • Additional wilderness permit information:

Wilderness Campfire Restrictions

Persons with a California Campfire Permit may use a portable lantern or stove using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel in areas where campfires are not allowed.
Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness

  • Campfires are prohibited above 10,000 feet in elevation north of the Mt Emerson and Mt Humphreys ridgeline, and above 10,400 feet in elevation south of the Mt Emerson and Mt Humphreys ridgeline.
  • Campfires are prohibited below these elevational closures in the areas described in Exhibit A and shown on maps Exhibit E-S and Forest Order 04-96-2

Golden Trout and Hoover Wilderness

  • Campfires are prohibited within 2/10 of a mile of Chicken Spring Lake, Golden Trout Wilderness.
  • Campfires are prohibited within 2/10 of a mile of Rocky Basin Lakes, Golden Trout Wilderness.
  • Campfires are prohibited within Twenty Lakes Basin, Hoover Wilderness (Saddlebag Lake).

Wilderness Food Storage

Food and refuse storage requirements are in effect year round for all wilderness areas in Inyo National Forest. This includes Ansel Adams, Boundary Peak, Golden Trout, Hoover, Inyo Mountains, John Muir, Owens River Headwaters, South Sierra, and White Mountains Wilderness Areas.

Food and refuse must be secured in a container designed to prevent access by bears in 8 specific areas.

  • Bishop Pass Area
  • Cottonwood Lakes Basin/ Cottonwood Pass Area
  • Duck Pass / Purple Lake Area
  • Fish Creek Area
  • Kearsarge Pass Area
  • Little Lakes Valley Area
  • Mammoth Lakes / Rush Creek Area
  • Mount Whitney Area

Bear container use is also required when camping in any area without trees adequate to hang food at least 15 feet above ground and 10 feet from tree trunk.

In areas where food storage containers are not mandatory you may use portable containers, or use the counter balance method to hang food at least 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet horizontally from a tree trunk. No other methods of food storage are allowed.

Maps and additional food storage information: Traveling in Bear Country


Violation of the above prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 per individual or $10,000 for an organization, or not more than six month, or both. 16 USC 551 and 18 USC 3559, 3571, and 3581.

Nationwide Forest Regulations are included in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR's) General Prohibitions