Wilderness Permits FAQ's

How many people can be on my wilderness permit?
There is a maximum of 15 people on one wilderness permit. There is no exemption for the people that are visiting the wildernss.

Why do we need a wilderness permit to go into the Wilderness?
A daily entry quota system is in effect for all wilderness areas to protect the natural resources and to preserve the quality of the wilderness. The land can only support a certain number of visitors. When excessive use occurs all at one time, the opportunity for solitude decreases, vegetation gets damaged, erosion is accelerated, and the risk of water pollution increases.

When Is A Wilderness Permit Required?
Wilderness permits are required year-round on the Sierra National Forest for all overnight trips into the John Muir, Ansel Adams, Dinkey and Kaiser Wildernesses. Day-use wilderness permits are not required.

Are Wilderness Permits Limited?
Trailhead quotas are in place year round.

Can I Reserve A Permit?
For all trails, 60% of the trailhead quota is available through advanced reservations, and 40% is available on a walk-in basis. For these trails, you can reserve a permit by submitting a wilderness permit application to the reservation office following the wilderness permit procedures outlined on the application form. Applications for advanced reservations will be accepted beginning in January of each year, for your planned trip.

Are Reservations And Permits Transferable?
No. Once the forest has issued an advanced reservation for a wilderness permit to the leader of the party, it is valid only for that person or any of the listed alternate leaders. The permit authorizes the permit holder to enter into the wilderness with a specific number of people.

What If I Want To Hike Starting In One Of The National Parks?
For trips that originate in Yosemite National Park (209-372-0740) or Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park (559-565-3766), you must obtain a permit from the appropriate park office. The permit you will receive is good for travel in designated wilderness on other National Forests on that trip. If a permit is issued for entry at a Sierra National Forest trailhead, it is valid for travel into the National Parks only if the Park is listed on your itinerary.

What If I Want To Go On Several Different Trips During The Quota Season?
If you want advanced reservations for several trips, you must submit a separate application for each trip request. An application for an advanced reservation can have alternate date requests and/or alternate trailhead requests. Alternate dates must be listed by priority.


  • Fees are charged for reservations only, walk-in permits are free. Reservation fees are not refundable once your reservation is processed. There is a $5.00 per person reservation fee.
  • Reservations Will Be Confirmed in Writing - You will receive by mail a confirmation letter of your reservation. Fees will not be refunded once the reservation has been confirmed. If your request cannot be filled, your application and fees will be returned. It is a good idea to apply for alternate dates, or trailheads.
  • Reserved Permits- Permits may be picked up 48 hours before the day of departure at the location indicated on your confirmation letter. Permits must be picked up in person by noon of the departure day, or will be re-issued to another party. Permits will not be issued by mail.
  • Processing Fee for Changing Wilderness Permit Reservations - If you need to change the entry date or entry trailhead of your confirmed reservation, and quota space is available, there is a processing fee of $10.00. Contact the office where you made your reservation.
  • Payment -Your payment for reservation can be made by check or money order. All checks and money orders must be in US funds and made payable to: USDA Forest Service. Fees are due when the reservation is made.
  • Phone Reservations - No phone reservations are accepted.
  • How Close to my trip can I make a reservation? Reservations will be accepted starting in January of each year, and must be made no later than 21 days in advance of your planned entry into the wilderness.


Walk-in permits are available 24 hours prior to the day of your planned departure (Trailhead Quotas apply). They can be obtained at Forest Service Offices. Walk-in permits are free of charge.