Recreation Passes & Permits

Wilderness Regulations and Permits

 Keep Wilderness Wild


Thank you for your interest in visiting wilderness. Please read through the wilderness regulations below. At the bottom you will find information for applying for your wilderness permit.



Please observe the following regulations to help preserve your wilderness experience and protect wilderness character for future generations:


Image Two Hikers with backpacks and hiking sticks hiking on trailGroup Size Limits
In order to protect visitors’ opportunities for solitude and reduce physical impacts, all affiliated groups must camp and travel separately, always remaining at least one mile apart.  In the Emigrant and Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Areas the maximum group size (for day or overnight use) is 15 persons; number of stock animals is limited to 25 head per group in these Areas. The Mokelumne Wilderness maximum group size is 12 for day use and 8 for overnight; number of stock allowed varies within the Mokelumne from 0 to 12, so check with the Amador Ranger Station on the Eldorado National Forest before your trip using the contact info here.

Image of a campfireImage No Wood Cutting allowedImage No breaking limbs from treesCampfires
Escaped campfires are a major cause of wildfires in California and have led to increasing losses of life, property, and forest resources in recent years. Fire Restrictions can change at any time, so always check the Stanislaus homepage right before your trip (look on the right side for “Alerts & Notices”.  If you are visiting several Forests or Parks, check their sites as well.

Leaving a campfire without completely extinguishing it is always prohibited.

Building, attending, maintaining, or using a campfire or a stove fire is prohibited under the following conditions:

a) without a valid campfire permit,

b) without removing all flammable material (to bare mineral soil) from around the campfire adequate to prevent its escape,

c) in a restricted area during Fire Restrictions. 

d) above 8,000 ft in the Mokelumne Wilderness,

e) above 9000 ft or within 1/2 mile of Emigrant Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness,

f) from the high-water line on the north shore of Salt Springs Reservoir up to 4,600 ft in elevation.


Image of a TentCampsite Location
In the Emigrant and Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Areas, camping is prohibited within 100 feet of lakes, streams, and trails, or where posted. This regulation helps protect delicate lakeside vegetation, preserves solitude, protects water quality, and allows recovery of closed campsites.

In the Mokelumne Wilderness Camping is prohibited in the following areas:

a) Outside of a designated camping site in the Carson Pass Mgmt. Area (CPMA) from Memorial Day to Labor Day

b) Within 300 ft of Emigrant Lake, except when there is snow on the ground

c) within 1/4 mile of Frog Lake

d) Within a designated camping site at Winnemucca or Round Top Lakes for more than two nights

e) Within a designated camping site at Fourth of July Lake for more than 3 nights.

Camping for more than one night at Camp, Bear, Grouse, Powell or Waterhouse Lakes in the Emigrant Wilderness is prohibited in order to protect opportunities for solitude at these popular destinations.

Camping in the Stanislaus National Forest for more than 14 consecutive days is also prohibited.


Image of a Men and Ladies RestroomResource Protection and Sanitation

In the Emigrant and Carson-Iceberg, disposing of body waste and wash water within 100 feet of any water source is prohibited to protect water quality.  In the Mokelumne, the disposing of body waste or wash water with 200 feet of any water source is prohibited.  Bury human waste at least 6-8 inches deep. Bury or pack out all toilet paper.  Pack out all wipes; they are plastic and do not biodegrade.

Shortcutting of trail switchbacks is prohibited. Shortcutting causes erosion and diverts limited trail maintenance personnel from other needed work.


Image of a person throwing garbage in a trash recepticleGarbage

Disposing of debris, garbage, or other waste is prohibited inside of wilderness. Adhere to this simple principle: pack it in, pack it out. This includes bits of foil in your fire ring, burned tin cans, broken glass, wipes, and cigarette butts.  Leave it better than you found it.


Image Two Hikers with backpacks and hiking sticks hiking on trailTrails
Shortcutting of trail switchbacks is prohibited. Shortcutting causes erosion and diverts limited trail maintenance personnel from other needed work.




Image of a person shooting a rifleFirearms
Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun except for the taking of wildlife as permitted by State game laws, is prohibited to minimize the intrusion of human-caused noise and to prevent damage to natural features.


Image of a person riding a horse.Image No tethering of Stock to treesStock Holding and Grazing

Riding or allowing a horse or other saddle or pack animal off National Forest System trails within the Round Top Special Interest Area in the Mokelumne Wilderness is prohibited.

Possessing more than 12 head of saddle or pack stock per group in the Mokelumne Wilderness, or more than 25 head per group in the Emigrant or Carson-Iceberg Wilderness is prohibited.

Tying pack or saddle stock to trees, except while loading or unloading is prohibited.

Tying pack or saddle stock within 200 feet of lakes, streams, trails, or campsites, except while loading or unloading in the Mokelumne Wilderness, or within 100 feet of same within the Emigrant or Carson-Iceberg is prohibited.

Grazing or holding stock overnight within 1/4 mile of Bear, Camp, Deer, Grouse, Powell, Waterhouse, or Wood Lakes. Grazing or holding more than 4 head of stock overnight within 1/4 mile of Gem, Jewelry, Long, Maxwell, Pingree, Piute, and Rosasco Lakes is prohibited.

Image Storing food or personal property in Wilderness Areas Id Not AllowedCaching of Personal Property
It is prohibited to leave unattended within the wilderness any equipment, personal property or supplies for a period in excess of 24 hours to preserve the undeveloped character of wilderness. This includes barbeque grates, geocaches, and hunting camps.


 Image No OHV or Motorized Vehicle use Travel allowedImage No Snowmobiling IconImage  No Bicycle riding is allowed on trails or anywhere in Wilderness AreasImage of an ATV -No Riding in Wilderness AreasRed circle bisected with a slash drawn over a picture of a drone.Wheeled Vehicles & Motorized Equipment
The possession or use of any wagon, cart, or mechanized vehicle (including bicycles and game carts) or any motorized equipment is prohibited to preserve the primitive character of wilderness. This includes a prohibition on drones.

Additional Regulations
The above regulations are in addition to the general regulations found in 36 CFR Part 261, Subpart A.



Yosemite National Park Wilderness

UPDATED April 2021: Yosemite National Park has modified their permitting procedures. Please contact Yosemite National Park for new information about wilderness permits.

For trips entering Yosemite National Park Wilderness from the Stanislaus National Forest and staying overnight at Kibbie Lake or Lake Eleanor (near Cherry Lake), you must call the Groveland Ranger District 1 day in advance of your trip.  It is recommended that you call at 8:30 AM (no sooner) since the permits go quickly.  If you are planning to start your trip on a Sunday or Monday you need to call for your permit on Friday.  The Groveland office is closed on Saturday, Sunday and all major holidays.  Only 25 people may obtain an overnight wilderness permit going through the  Kibbie Lake trailhead and only 10 people may obtain an overnight permit going through the Lake Eleanor trailhead per day, as per National Park quotas. These free permits are required year-round.  Bear canisters are required and dogs, even on-leash, are not allowed in Yosemite wilderness.  Cherry Lake Dam gate to Kibbie Lake and Lake Eleanor opens from April 15-December 15.

All Yosemite National Park wilderness regulations apply.


ICON Bear Country Image of a bear.Visiting Bear Country
Although Bear Canisters are currently not required in these Stanislaus National Forest wilderness areas, please see the When Visiting Bear Country information guide for basic good practices around bears. Never feed or leave garbage behind for any wild animal.


Logo of Leave No TraceLeave No Trace
To help preserve the wild character of your wilderness areas, the Forest Service strongly recommends that all visitors follow simple Leave-No-Trace methods.




A Wilderness Permit is required for all overnight trips to the Emigrant, Carson-Iceberg, and Mokelumne Wilderness Areas. 

There are no quota or reservation systems for the Emigrant, Carson-Iceberg or Mokelumne.

Permits will be issued over the phone or in person at one of our offices. (Online services are not available at this time.)

Permits issued over the phone can be picked up at the issuing Ranger Station. Please print your permit and have it with you during your trip. 

Permits will be issued no more than 3 - 5 days prior to your departure date.