Special Places

Wilderness Regulations and Permits

 Keep Wilderness Wild




Image of a Ranger with Hat standing next to a USFS Ranger StationPlease observe the following regulations to help preserve your wilderness experience and protect wilderness character for future generations:

Updated June 2020: FREE permits are required for overnight visits. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the process for obtaining overnight wilderness permits has changed. Most permits can now be obtained online.

Click here to read instructions and apply for an online permit.

Wilderness Permits
A Wilderness Permit is required for overnight visits to the Emigrant, Carson-Iceberg, and Mokelumne Wildernesses from April 1 through November 30. Pick up a free permit at any Stanislaus National Forest Ranger Station. If you will be arriving outside of regular business hours, please call up to three days in advance to have a permit left in the after-hours pick-up box. 

UPDATED JUNE 2020: Yosemite National Park has modified their permitting procedures. Please contact Yosemite National Park for new information about wilderness permits.

Yosemite National Park Wilderness
For trips entering Yosemite National Park Wilderness from Cherry Lake, Kibbie Ridge, or Lake Eleanor, visit any district office or call the Groveland Ranger District by phone no more than 24 hours in advance of your trip. Cherry Lake Dam gate to Cherry Lake, Kibbie Ridge, and Lake Eleanor opens from April 1-December 15. Only 25 people may obtain a Wilderness Permit to Kibbie Ridge/Lake, but due to damage from the RIM fire only 10 people may obtain a permit to Lake Eleanor per day in these areas per National Park quotes. These free permits are required year-round. Bear canisters are required and dogs, even on leash, are not allowed on trails. All Yosemite National Park wilderness regulations apply.



Image Two Hikers with backpacks and hiking sticks hiking on trailGroup Size Limits
Entering the Emigrant and Carson-Iceberg Wildernesses with a group larger than 15 persons and 25 stock is prohibited. During California's phased reopening plan, groups are limited to not more than 10 people who are living together. During the phased reopening you are requested to limit your group size to 10 or less.  Standard wilderness regulations limit groups to 12 people and 12 stock in the Mokelumne Wilderness for day use, and eight people for overnight trips. Affiliated groups must camp and travel separately, remaining at least one mile apart at all times while in the wilderness to protect solitude and reduce physical impacts. Group size limits apply to both overnight and day-use visitors.


Image of a campfireImage No Wood Cutting allowedImage No breaking limbs from trees
During the 2020 recreation season, all campfires are prohibited outside of developed campgrounds due to high fire danger and social distancing requirements for fire fighters. View the fire restriction forest order. Campfires are prohibited in the Emigrant Wilderness above 9000 feet and within one-half mile of Emigrant Lake to protect sensitive whitebark pine forests and to allow recovery of areas historically depleted of firewood. Campfires are prohibited in the Mokelumne Wilderness above 8000 feet and within ¼ mile of the high water line (3949 feet) at Salt Springs Reservoir.


Image of a TentCampsite Location
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.


Image of a TentLength of Stay
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 RestroomSanitation
Disposing of body waste and wash water within 100 feet of any water source is prohibited to protect water quality. Follow "Leave No Trace" practices. Dig a small hole at least 6-8 inches deep and at least 100 feet from water, trails and campsites. Bury or pack out all toilet paper.



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, pieces of rope, and cigarette butts.



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 rifleShooting
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 trees
Stock Holding and Grazing
Tying pack and saddle stock within 100 feet of lakes, streams, trails and campsites except while loading or unloading, is prohibited to protect water quality and control impacts. Tying pack and saddle stock to trees, except while loading or unloading, is prohibited to reduce tree damage.

In the Emigrant Wilderness, grazing or holding more than four stock overnight within one-quarter mile of Rosasco, Pingree, Piute, Gem, Jewelry, Long, or Maxwell Lakes is prohibited due to limited forage.

In the Emigrant Wilderness, grazing or holding stock overnight within one-quarter mile of Camp, Bear, Grouse, Powell, Wood, Deer, or Waterhouse Lakes is prohibited because of inadequate forage. 


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 Areas




Wheeled Vehicles and 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.



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.