Mount Whitney Lottery - Permit Reservations

Apply to the Mt. Whitney lottery beginning Feb 1, 2017 on the website, www.recreation.gov

Hikes occurring May 1 through November 1 are reserved by the Mt Whitney Lottery.
If you are using any route other than the Mt. Whitney Trail review what permit is required, not all trips to Mt Whitney are reserved in the lottery.

The lottery application is completed on line between Feb 1 and March 15. You indicate your desired dates, group size and your preference of day hike or overnight permit. List up to 3 alternate leaders and up to 15 alternate trip choices on one application. Pay the $6 transaction fee and check out the shopping cart to submit your lottery application. Applications cannot be changed or modified after they are submitted. Applications are not accepted by mail or fax. Results are posted to the applicant's personal profile on recreation.gov on March 24.

Please submit only one application. Groups that submit multiple applications requesting the same date may be rejected. You are limited to win one trip from the lottery each year. If you wish to reserve multiple trips in the same year, additional reservations can be made when the remaining space goes on sale April 1.

Fees: No Refunds.
Transaction Fee: List up to 15 trip choices and 3 alternate leaders for one $6.00 application fee.
Reservation Fee: Lottery winners must pay a $15.00 per person reservation fee by April 30, 2017 to claim any awarded date. Unclaimed dates will be canceled.

Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the Inyo National Forest wilderness permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit. Groups larger than 15 people are prohibited.

Lottery Timeline

Feb 1 through March 15: Enter lottery online at www.recreation.gov (closes on March 15 at midnight Eastern time) Late applications will not be accepted. All the applications are processed together in one lottery after March 15.

March 24: Preview results by logging into your account and view your lottery application. Acceptance period begins April 1.

April 1: Mini- On-sale. Any remaining space opens for real time web reservations for the remainder of the season.

  • Cancelations and declined space will be added back to the reservation calendar within 24 hours at a random time.
  • On-sale opens at 7 am Pacific Time (No phone reservations)

April 1- April 30: Accept or decline if you won a date from the lottery. Verify your group size, complete your trip information, and pay the $15 per person reservation fee to claim your reservation.

April 30: Deadline closes at midnight Eastern Time. You must accept and pay the reservation fee, or the lottery win will be revoked and canceled. You must complete checking out the cart before midnight!

May 1: All unclaimed lottery dates are canceled and released for web reservations (space is released within 24 hours at a random time).

What are My Chances?   Can I change my dates?  Will there be Snow?

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 camping at Lone Pine Lake, camping in the Mt. Whitney Zone, and 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.*

*Not all trips to Mt. Whitney are in the Lottery 

The 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. If your trip is overnight and you’re not going up the Mt Whitney Trail to start, it's not in the lottery! Link to Other Permits to Mt. Whitney.

Recommended reading, "Hiking the Mt Whitney Trail
Links to trail information: Mt. Whitney Trail  -  North Fork Lone Pine Creek  

Mount Whitney Zone Map

Whitney Zone Map shows permit requirement areas

What are My Chances?

 2016 Lottery Application Statistics
13,638 applications requesting space for 64,939 people to climb the mountain in 2016 set a new record for number of applications in the Mt Whitney Lottery. Only 100 day hikers and 60 backpackers are allowed each day. The increase in applications has resulted in more unsuccessful applications.

What is the frequency of cancelations and no show?
2014 Mt Whitney Day Use and 2014 Mt Whitney Trail Overnight

Will there Be Snow? Frequently Asked Questions
General Rules for Mt. Whitney
Apply online at www.recreation.gov 
Application Tips   

Changing a Lottery Application
Once an application is submitted (cart checked out) you cannot make changes to any of the information on the application.

  • To change the entry date, entry trail or permit type, you must cancel the application and reapply before March 15. You would pay the $6 application fee again.
  • During the acceptance period you can decline a date, no additional fees would apply.
  • Increase of group size can be made on line after April 1 if space is available.
  • Alternate leaders cannot be added or changed. Only the leader or alternate leader listed on the application can pick up or use the permit.
  • Reservations cannot be resold or transferred to other groups. No credits. No rain checks. No rescheduling due to weather.

Changing a Reservation
If space is available, changes to group size can be made online after April 1. 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

After the Lottery: Results- Accept or Decline

After the Mt Whitney Lottery, any remaining dates may be reserved on the website www.recreation.gov beginning April 1st. The letter "R" on the reservation calendar indicates that date is full. Reductions in group size and canceled space will be released for web reservations at a random time within 24 hours of cancelation. A reservation is not final until you have successfuly completed checking out the shopping cart and paid reservation fees in full.

If you won a date in the lottery, April 30 is the deadline to complete the acceptance and pay the $15.00 per person reservation fee. If this is not completed before midnight, Eastern Time on April 30, 2016 the reservation will be canceled.

May 1 all remaining unclaimed dates are canceled and released for web reservations at random times.

To Claim a Date Won in the Lottery: Log into your account on recreation.gov and open the link to your lottery application. Click on the button to accept or decline. Complete your trip information and click the button to go to the shopping cart, where you complete the credit card payment information. Acceptance and payment of the $15.00 per person reservation fee must be completed before midnight, Eastern Time on April 30, 2017 or the reservation will be canceled. (Chrome and Safari browsers may not view all software functions)

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