Permit Pick Up Instructions

The group leader is responsible for picking up the permit and relaying the wilderness information to the group members. As group leader you are agreeing to follow all the rules and regulations and ensure that members of your group do likewise.

Signed permit must be in group leaders possession and must be presented to rangers upon request.

  • Permit will only be issued to the group leader or alternate specified by name on reserved permits.
  • Alternate leader can only be designated at the time the reservation is made, they cannot be changed or added later.
  • Show photo identification when requested.

Verify your final group size before traveling to the area to hold a reserved permit past the no show deadline or your reservation may be canceled.

Reserved Permit Checklist

How to Request a Walk up Permit

Permit Issuing Locations 

Eastern Sierra Visitor Center

located at the Junction of Highway 395 and State Route 136, south of:
Lone Pine, CA 93545

Hours of operation in may change. Open 8-5 Daily in summer (last permit issued 4:45pm); in winter 8:30-4:30, closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

All Mt Whitney permits must be issued at this location

White Mountain Ranger Station

798 N. Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514

Open 8-5 Daily (closed for lunch from noon-1:00) in summer; in winter 8:30-4:30, closed on weekends and holidays.

Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center

2500 Main Street
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Open 8-5 Daily in summer; in winter 8:30-4:30, closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center

North of Lee Vining on Hwy 395
Lee Vining, CA 93541

Open 8-5 Daily in summer (closed in winter)

Call the central Wilderness Permit Office for phone assistance, to verify your final group size, request will call or night box service.
Open 8-4:30 every day in summer; in winter, closed on weekends and holidays.

Commercial operators, contact the commercial desk at the Wilderness Permit Office for your permits.

Before your trip, plan ahead and prepare:

Leave No Trace Principles (video)
Leave No Trace for Mt Whitney (video)
Leader Responsibility & Permit Policy
Traveling in Bear Country
 Weather ~ Avalanche 
Wilderness Trip Planning Guide
List of Trail Names & Quotas 

Permit Issuing During the Quota Season

Come prepared with the information you will need for your permit. Allow time to receive wilderness information, purchase maps or rent bear/food storage containers.

  • Service is first come first serve.
  • No Walk up permits will be issued for Mt Whitney Day Use and Mt Whitney Trail Overnight. These two permits are by reservation only. 
  • Walk up requests for Trail Crest Exit quota to end a trip at Whitney Portal are issued at 8 a.m. or 11a.m. based on the entry date.
  • Prearrange will call & night box service for reserved permit, this service it is not automatic.

Permit Issuing Times

Reserved permits can be issued any time of day, up to 2 days before the entry date, or on the entry day.

Permits for non-quota trails can be issued any time of day, 1 or 2 days before, or on the entry day.

Starting at 8:00 am:

  • Walk up permits issued for same day entry if space is available.
  • Sign up for the 11am line for first come first serve.
  • Walk up permits are final, you cannot return at 11 to request a preferred permit.

Starting at 11:00 am:

  • Walk up permits issued for next day entry.
  • Same day entry may be issued if space is available.

Permit Issuing During Winter

Reservations are not needed during the non-quota season (November 2 through April 30). Walk up permits can be issued any time of day, one or two days before the entry date.

  • 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.

Walk Up Permit Details

Walk up permits are subject to space available at the time the permit request is processed. You must be in person at the visitor center to request the permit. The person requesting the permit will be designated as the group leader and must be going on the trip. The group leader is accepting responsibility for the group to follow all laws, rules and regulations. The leader can request a permit for the whole group. All members of the group do not need to be present. Group Leader Responsibility 

  • Permits are issued for same day entry or for next day entry; your group must start on the trail on the date stated.
  • Walk up permit cannot be held by phone or web.
  • No night box service for walk up permits.
  • No Walk up Mt Whitney Day Use or Mt Whitney Trail Overnight, these two permits are by web reservation only. 

Amount of space for walk up may vary. On many trails 40% of the quota is saved for walk up permits. Also unfilled reservation space and last minute cancelations add to the quota for walk up. Non quota trails are limited to a maximum of 15 people per group.

When requesting a walk up permit provide the following information:

  • Group leader name, email, address, phone number (show photo id when requested)
  • Name of entry trail, be prepared with more than one possible choice.
  • Entry and exit dates, exit location
  • Number of people (includes children)
  • Camp locations

Reserved Permit Check List

Check in at the visitor center to pick up your permit, or arrange for will call service before 11:00 am on the entry date or your reservation will be CANCELED.

One week before the trip:

Verify your final group size. If you have a group size reduction update your reservation online. This will save your reserved permit until 5 p.m. on the entry date. It’s recommended to complete this step before traveling to the area.

2 or 3 days before the trip:

Call the wilderness permit office if you need assistance to verify your final group size or request will call / night box service. Cell reception is poor in this area and makes it difficult to call from the highway, so plan ahead. 

Will Call and Night Box Service

Will call is at the permit counter at each of our visitor centers. When you call in to arrange for will call, we will update any information needed on your permit, provide wilderness information for your trip and answer your questions over the phone. Then your permit will be pre-printed and held at the permit counter ready for you to sign and go! The cashier near will call can also check you out for renting a bear/food storage container or purchasing maps. If your permit is not picked up by 5pm the night before your trip, we will put it outside in the night box for you to retrieve after hours.

You must make arrangements in advance, this service it is not automatic. Allow time when you call to receive directions and wilderness information.

  • Call our central number for wilderness permits, 760-873-2483
  • Provide your reservation number, final group size, and itinerary.
  • Leader must sign and carry the permit on the trip.
  • Rental bear/food storage containers cannot be left out for night pickup.

Night box permits are put out at 5 p.m. the night before your trip. While visitor center staff do their best to put permits out, the box is opened many time each night and occasionally a permit gets lost. If your permit is not in the box, you must return to the visitor center the next morning to replace the permit. If you wish to guarantee your permit is issued directly to you, please come to the visitor center during open hours.

Leader Responsibility & Permit Policy

  • Group leader or alternate specified by name on the reservation will be issued the permit for the whole group; all members of the group do not need to be present.
  • Provide your reservation number and identification when requested.
  • Verify your final group size.
  • A reservation receipt is not accepted as proof of having a valid reservation or permit.
  • Mt. Whitney permits include tags for each person to carry to identify the members of your group.
  • Phone line is open 8am to 4:30. Avoid busy times at 8:00 am, noon, and 4 pm. for faster service.

Still have questions?
Call the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Office
(760) 873-2483
Phone line is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Open daily May 15 to October 15
Winter season - closed on weekends and holidays.


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