Permit Pickup Instructions - Mt. Whitney

A wilderness permit for hiking or backpacking is required year round to visit Mt. Whitney.

Permits for Day Use - Mt Whitney Zone, Overnight - Mt Whitney Trail, and North Fork of Lone Pine Creek must be issued at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center
Day Use and Mt Whitney Trail overnight are by reservation only; no walk up requests during the quota season. Signed permit must be in group leaders possession during the trip and presented to rangers upon request, permit policy.

Are you prepared for Mt Whitney?

Winter Season Permits

Reservations are not necessary for trips starting before May 1. Non quota permits are issued one or two days before the trip.
Go to the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center :

  • During business hours permits are issued inside the visitor center.
  • After business hours, self-issue permit forms are outside (instructions and forms are in the kiosk near the driveway)
  • Self-issue and non quota permits are only for trips beginning November 2 through April 30.

Reserved Permit Instructions

2020 Mt Whitney Lottery Information. If you win you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee in April to claim your awarded date. Check in to pick up your permit at the visitor center before starting on the trail. Reserved permits can be issued 1-2 days before or on the entry date.

Reservation Canceled as a No Show

Your reservation will be canceled and space may go to other groups unless you take action before the no show deadline.

  • Deadline for Day Use permit is noon, one day before the entry date.
  • Deadline for overnight permit is 10 a.m. on the entry date.

Do at least one of the following to prevent no show.

  • Verify your final group size (1 week before trip)
  • Pick up permit at the visitor center (1 or 2 days before trip)
  • Call and arrange for Will Call & Night Box Service if desired.

Cell reception is poor in this area, make arrangements before you travel.

Verify Final Group Size

To hold your permit past the no show deadline you should verify your final group size in the week before your trip. Completing these steps will hold your reservation until close of business on the entry date.

  1. Login to
  2. Look under My Reservations and OPEN the reservation
  3. Verify your final group size (including children) and adjust the number of people if group is smaller
  4. Click the SAVE button to lock in and hold your final group size.

For assistance, call the Wilderness Permit Office at 760-873-2483

Pick up Reserved Permit

Check in at the visitor center 1-2 days before the trip to pick up your reserved permit. Reservations with verified final group size may be picked up on the entry day.

  • Provide reservation number and identification when requested.
  • Only the group leader or alternate listed when the reservation was made can pick up or use the permit. Alternates cannot be changed or added later.
  • Group leader can pick up a permit for the whole group; all members of the group do not need to be present.
  • Leader responsibility includes the terms in Permit Policy.
  • Verify final number of people (includes children)
  • Update any itinerary corrections.

When requesting your permit, allow time to receive wilderness information and waste disposal kits, purchase maps, or rent bear/food storage containers. Last permit issued 15 minutes before closing.

Will Call & Night Box Service

Make arrangements in advance, this service is not automatic.

  • Call 1-3 days before the trip (760) 873-2483.
  • Provide reservation number, itinerary, and verify your final group size.
  • Allow time to receive wilderness information and directions for the box (kiosk near driveway)
  • Both Will Call and Night Box Service can be arranged in the same phone call.
  • For faster service, avoid busy times on the phone line at 8:00 am, noon, and 4:00 pm.
  • Phone line is open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Will Call permits are preprinted and held near Cashier & Permit counter.

  • Leader or listed alternate leader can show ID, sign, and go!
  • Rent a bear can or purchase maps at the same time.
  • Will Call are put in the Night Box if not picked up at the counter.
  • To change your permit details you would need to wait in line at the permit issuing counter to have your permit reissued.

Night Box permits are placed in a box located outside the visitor center for you to retrieve after business hours.

  • Permits are put in the Night Box at 5 pm the night before your trip.
  • Leader must retrieve the permit, a reservation or receipt is not accepted as proof of a valid permit.
  • If your permit is not in the box, you must return to the visitor center the next morning to replace the permit. Space is not guaranteed if your entry date is past.
  • Rental bear /food storage containers cannot be left out for night pickup; food storage containers are required for overnight trips.

Requesting night box service does not guarantee delivery of your permit. Visitor Center staff do their best to place requested permits in the night box and secure it with a lock, however the box is opened multiple times each night and occasionally a permit gets lost. Pick up the permit during open hours if you wish to guarantee your permit is issued directly to you.

Walk Up Permits During Quota Season

No walk up permits are issued at the visitor center for Day Use - Mt Whitney or Overnight - Mt Whitney Trail. These permits are by reservation only for trips beginning May 1 through November 1.

Reserve space from last minute cancellations or group size reductions on Reserved permits can utilize Will Call and Night Box Service if called in the day before the trip. Phone line closes at 4:30 pm.

Walk up permits will continue to be issued for other Inyo National Forest trail including overnight North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, or trips that exit at Whitney Portal. For more about quotas and the amount of space for walk up permits, click here.

Leader Responsibility

The group leader is responsible for picking up the permit and relaying the wilderness information to the group members. Mt. Whitney permits include tags for each person to carry on the trail. The permit can only be used by the person the permit is issued to. Show photo identification when requested.
Link to Wilderness Regulations.

You are agreeing to the following permit policy when a wilderness permit is issued to you.

Permit Policy

  • The group leader signing the permit is responsible for ensuring that everyone in the group follows all of the rules and regulations during the wilderness trip.
  • Group leader must have the permit with them during the trip.
  • Group must start on the entry date and location stated in the permit.
  • Large groups cannot exceed group size limits even if they have separate permits.
  • All people count for wilderness quotas and fees; prices are not different for children or seniors.
  • A permit is valid for one continuous wilderness trip; no exceptions for resupply.
  • Each trip requires a new wilderness permit; there is no season pass.
  • The National Interagency Pass is not a substitute for specific activity permits, like a wilderness permit. There are no discounts or exemptions for wilderness permits.
  • Pacific Crest Trail (PCTA) permits are not valid to start on quota trails in Inyo National Forest.
  • Reservations or permits cannot be sold or transferred to other parties. Only a listed alternate leader can replace the group leader.
  • A reservation receipt is not proof of having a valid reservation or permit.
  • Reservations for Mt Whitney permits can be made one day before the entry date.
  • During the quota season no walk up permits will be issued at the visitor center for Mt Whitney Day Use and Mt Whitney Trail Overnight. These two permits are by reservation only.

Still have questions?

Call the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Office.

(760) 873-2483
Phone line is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm. (closed at lunch)
Open daily May 15 to October 15
Winter season- closed on weekends and holidays.


Information -Mt. Whitney


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