Obtaining a Wilderness Permit

Alpine meadow with stream

The Sierra National Forest encompasses 1.3 million acres of which 528,000 is congressionally designated a wilderness. The California Wilderness Act of 1984 added 227,000 acres of that total. The Sierra National Forest has five wilderness areas: Ansel Adams, Dinkey Lakes, John Muir, Kaiser, and Monarch. All are managed with special regulations to protect their ecosystems and preserve the wilderness.

Located in California's beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sierra National Forest offers challenging trails, high mountain peaks and unparalleled views. Several of our trails give entry to the John Muir Trail or Pacific Crest Trail with the opportunity to trek in the longest roadless section of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Our trails offer possibilities for hiking, photography, peak bagging, fishing, or simply enjoying the pristine beauty of the High Sierra. Whether you are seeking solitude, exceptional scenery, or sharing a wilderness adventure, there are many ways to create a memorable experience.

Come, take a deep breath of clean mountain air. Put on your pack and hit the trail. Come to experience nature and let it refresh your spirit. Places to explore include the Ansel Adams, John Muir, Dinkey Lakes, and Kaiser wildernesses. Trips beginning on Sierra National Forest may continue into the wilderness areas of Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks or Inyo National Forest. 

As you plan your trip, remember that we must take care of this amazing place. While you are here, be respectful of water, woods and wildlife. Travel lightly on the land. Remember to leave this place undamaged so it will continue to be what we seek of wilderness.

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 on the Sierra National Forest for all overnight trips into the John Muir, Ansel Adams, Dinkey and Kaiser Wildernesses. Trailhead quotas (For Quota and Trail Information) are in place year round. A wilderness permit is not required for day hikes into the wilderness areas. By limiting the number of people we hope to provide a true wilderness experiencewhile protecting the physical and biological resources of the land. Late spring, summer, and early fall are typical periods of heavy use in all wilderness areas. 

How many people can be on my wilderness permit?

There is a maximum of 15 people on one wilderness permit, and 25 head of stock for day and overnight use. There is no exemption for the people that are visiting the wilderness. 


60% of the trailhead quota is available through advanced reservations, overnight visitors to the Sierra National Forest’s wilderness areas will be able to make their quota season wilderness permit reservations using the website Recreation.gov

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.

Reservations and Fees for Wilderness Permits

March 2021, reservations will become available in a rolling window six months up to 14 days in advance of entry dates, if quota space is available, reservations can be made until one day before the trip. To cover the costs associated with the new system, the quota season permit fee will increase to $6 plus, $5 per person with the same 15 person maximum per permit. Refunds of the per person portion of the fee will be available in this new system in the event of cancellations or party size reductions 12 days prior to the trip. 

• Phone Reservations - For your protection, no phone reservations are accepted for wilderness reservations. For Wilderness Permit Reservations - Recreation.GOV

Walk-in Permits

40% of  the trailhead quota traditionally is set aside for walk up permits is being added to the reservation website and updated with each reservation. Due to the ability to reserve these permits, there will be a fee of $6.00 per permit and $5.00 per person.


Permits will need to be picked up in person at either the High Sierra Ranger District or the Bass Lake Ranger District, make sure to provide them with your information regarding your trip and wilderness area. Permits must picked by 10:00 AM, the day of entry unless prior arrangements have been made by contacting the office where your permit is being held. Please be sure that you have your permit confimation notice at the time of permit pick-up.

Forest Offices for permit pickup:

High Sierra Ranger District at (559) 855-5355 ext. 3301, Hours; 0800-4:30 Mon-Fri ( exception Jun - Sept 7 days per week)

Bass Lake Ranger District (559) 877-2218 ext. 0,  Hours: 0800-4:30 Mon-Fri 


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.