Mount Whitney Lottery - Permit Reservations

Planning to Climb Mt. Whitney in 2020?

Apply to the 2020 Mt. Whitney Lottery between February 1 and March 15 on the website,

Are you prepared for Mt Whitney?

Lottery Terms

Submit only one application to the lottery. You may request up to 15 alternate dates on your application. Groups that submit multiple applications will be rejected. If you want more than one trip this year, additional reservations can be made after the lottery. Unclaimed dates will be canceled and released for web reservations on May 1.

  • Reservations are only valid for the stated entry date and permit type. No rain checks. No rescheduling.
  • Groups larger than 15 people are prohibited.
  • If you win your date in the lottery you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee before midnight Eastern Time April 30 or your win will be revoked.
  • Reservations cannot be resold or transferred.
  • Alternate leaders cannot be added or changed later.
  • Only the leader or alternate named on lottery application can pick up or use the permit.

Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the Inyo National Forest wilderness permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit.

In the event of a lapse in federal government funding the website may freeze. If the website is down during the Mt Whitney Lottery the application period will not be extended.

3 Things You Need to Know Before Entering the Lottery

  1. Submit only one application to the lottery or you may be rejected.
  2. If you win the lottery you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee in April to claim your awarded date.
  3. Check all your dates and group size choices on your application before checking out the cart. Applications cannot be changed after check out, you must withdraw the application and reapply to correct a mistake. There are no credits or refunds if you reapply.
Did you make a mistake? What Can and Cannot be Changed
Cannot Change: Can Change after Lottery:
Entry Date Exit Location
Permit Type (day use or overnight) Camp Location
Alternate Leader Overnight can extend exit date
Increase Group Size Reduce Group Size

Important Dates

Opening and Closing dates for Mt Whitney Permits
Dates Information
February 1 - March 15 Apply for Mt Whitney lottery on line. 2020 season lottery will open February 1, 2020
March 24 Lottery results posted, log onto your account and look for your Lottery Application.
April 1 Reservations open for remaining dates.
April 30 Deadline Lottery Winners: Pay $15 per person fee to claim date won in lottery. You must complete checking out the cart before midnight Eastern Time April 30 or your win will be revoked.
May 1 Web reservations open for remaining dates starting at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time (no phone sales). Reservations are first come first serve and will stay open for the rest of the season.
May 1 - November 1 Quota season when number of people per day is limited to 100 per day for day use and 60 per day for overnight.
November 2 - April 30 Permit issued at visitor center for non-quota season (no reservations) no limit on number of permits.

Select from the following topics to learn more.

Two Types of Permit are in the Lottery: Day Use & Overnight

Day use and overnight permits are not interchangeable, you must have a permit for the type of trip you are doing.

Mt Whitney Trail starts in Inyo National Forest at Whitney Portal, 8,300 feet above sea level. The trail gains over 6,200 feet of elevation before reaching the summit in Sequoia National Park. The summit of Mt. Whitney is the southern end of the John Muir Trail.

Day Use – Mt. Whitney Zone Permit

This permit is valid for one day only, from midnight to midnight. Choose the route appropriate for your group, Mt. Whitney Trail or climbing routes like the Mountaineers Route.

  • Map of Mt Whitney Zone shows where a permit is required for day hikes
  • Day Use permit cannot be used to pass through the area for an overnight trip.
  • Consecutive day use permits are not allowed.
  • If a trip is more than one calendar date an Overnight permit is required.

Most day hikers choose the classic Mt. Whitney Trail. The 22-mile round-trip hike will challenge even very fit hikers. Expect to hike 12 to 14 hours to the summit and back. Consider starting before sunrise. Be prepared to hike in the dark. Choose your dates wisely. The Mt. Whitney Trail is a non-technical, but strenuous, route to the summit when it is free of snow. However when snow or ice is on the mountain winter mountaineering skills and equipment are necessary for safe travel. The trail is usually snow-free from July to late September. Any day hikers attempting more technical rock climbing routes should carefully research the difficulty.

Overnight — Mt Whitney Trail

This permit includes multi-night trips starting on the classic Mt Whitney Trail and allows camping along the Mt Whitney Trail and summiting Mt. Whitney.

For the backpacker attempting to go up and back on the Mt. Whitney Trail, a popular travel plan is to stay one or two nights camping at Lone Pine Lake (10,000ft level), Outpost Camp (10,500ft level), Consultation Lake (11,000ft level) or Trail Camp (12,000ft level). The Mt Whitney Trail overnight permit can also be extended to continue onto the John Muir Trail or Pacific Crest Trail giving the opportunity to trek the longest roadless section of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

To extend your permit indicate your exit location. The trip must be one continuous wilderness trip. An interruption in wilderness travel will require a new permit to re-start.

An overnight permit to use the Mt Whitney Trail does not include other routes. If you wish to approach climbing routes like Mountaineers Route, East Face, East Buttress, or Mt Russell request an overnight permit for North Fork of Lone Pine Creek (not in the lottery).

Mount Whitney Zone Map

Select the map to view full size.

Whitney Zone Map shows permit requirement areas

  • Day hikers are required to have a wilderness permit (area outlined in the RED)
  • Overnight permits are required for all multi day trips in the wilderness. This includes outside the RED zone, camping at Lone Pine Lake, and trips that will pass through the Whitney Zone to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.


If you win a date in the lottery you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee before midnight Eastern Time on April 30, or your date will be CANCELED!

  • No refunds for Mt. Whitney permits.
  • $6 per permit paid at the time you apply.
  • $15 per person paid in April

Reservations made after the lottery, you pay all fees ($6 + $15 per person) at the time reservation is made. Once fee has been paid (cart checked out) there are no refunds. No rain checks. No credits.

What are My Chances? 2019 Lottery statistics

In 2019 there were 16,842 applications submitted requesting space for 84,000 people in the Mt Whitney Lottery.

34% of group leaders were awarded a date of their choice. 2019 Lottery Results

Lottery Process

Submit only one application per group. All the applications are held until after March 15. Applications are assigned a random order to be processed and software checks if there is space for dates you requested. Lottery application must be completed on line (applications are not accepted by mail or fax). On the application you indicate:

  • Date(s) you want to hike.
  • If you want a day hike or overnight permit.
  • Group size.
  • Alternate dates, up to 15 trip choices on one application.
  • List up to 3 alternate leaders at the time you apply. Alternates cannot be changed or added later.

Make sure all your information is correct before you check out the cart.

Applications cannot be changed or modified later. Submit your application by checking out the cart and paying $6.00 application fee.

Lottery results are posted to your personal profile on on March 24. If you won your date, decide how many people you want to keep before you accept. In April you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee to claim your date. Once you have paid the reservation fee there are no refunds.

After the Lottery

On March 24 you can log on to see if your application was successful. Before you Accept a date decide how many people you want. If you accept a smaller group size the space given up cannot be restored. Once you accept and pay there are no refunds.

April 30 is the Deadline to claim the date awarded. Log into your account on and open the link to your lottery application.

Decline: If you’re not interested in using the awarded permit you should decline. Dates cannot be transferred, rescheduled, traded, or sold. You cannot change the date, leader, or permit type. Only the awarded choice can be claimed.

Accept: Only accept a permit you want to use.
To accept you will need to complete trip information and use the shopping cart to pay the $15 per person reservation fee. Fees are final after checking out the cart. No Refunds.

  • Verify date, permit type, and group size are what you want.
  • Itinerary: Overnight trips you must select your Exit Date and Exit Trail. John Muir Trail hikers, select your exit location to indicate the section you are hiking. You can reopen the reservation later (after April 30) to revise and fill in your full itinerary.
  • Group size: You may reduce your group size and only pay for the number of people you choose to accept, however space cannot be restored unless space becomes available later.
  • To complete the acceptance, check out the shopping cart.

Pay by checking out the cart before midnight Eastern Time on April 30, or the reservation will be canceled.

Did You Miss the Lottery?

May 1st. at 7:00 a.m. Pacific time, unclaimed dates open for web reservations.

go to:

  • First come, first serve
  • Web only, no phone orders.
  • Reservation is not final until you have successfully completed checking out the shopping cart and paid reservation fees in full.
  • Reservation receipt is not accepted as proof of a valid reservation.
  • Canceled space is released within 24 hours at random times.

Web reservations will remain open for the rest of the season. Reservations can be made up to one day before the entry date. When searching the calendar the letter A indicates some space is available on that date, mouse over the A to see how many people there is space for. Click on the A to reserve.

What is the frequency of cancellations during the summer?

Life happens, some of the groups that win a spot from the lottery may have to cancel their plans. When a group leader reduces their group size or cancels a reservation, the space is put back on the web for reservations. As the trip date approaches we ask the leader to finalize their group size and make any extra space available to others through the web reservations. Many people report they were able to make a reservation in the weeks before the trip, thanks to the consideration of other Mt Whitney hikers.

No Walk up Permits during Quota Season

Permits for Mt Whitney Day Use and Mt Whitney Trail Overnight are by reservation only during the quota season. Web reservations will remain open the day before the trip for reserving space from last minute cancelations. Reserved permits may use will call & night box service, follow permit pickup instructions.

Obtaining Your Permit

Mt. Whitney permits are issued at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center. The leader or alternate identified on the reservation must check in to pick up the permit. Show photo ID when requested. Review the permit pickup instructions for No Show deadline, how to arrange for will call & night box service.

Planning for Future Years?

A Lottery is held each spring for reservations to hike Mt. Whitney in the current season. Apply to the Mt. Whitney lottery between February 1 and March 15 on the website, After the lottery reservations will open on April 1 for any remaining dates.

Still have questions? Call the Wilderness Permit Office at (760) 873-2483 or by email (use Feedback Form) to Contact Us


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