Inyo Mountains Wilderness

Campsite in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness

The Inyo Mountains are a north-south trending desert mountain range between the Owens Valley to the west, and Death Valley National Park to the east. The 198,360 acre Inyo Mountains Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1994, and is jointly administered by the U.S. Forest Service (73,300 acres in the northern portion of the range) and the Bureau of Land Management (125,060 acres in the southern portion of the range). For information on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) portion of the wilderness: visit the BLM California website at, or

The Inyo Mountains offer wilderness visitors opportunities to experience solitude, historical values and dark night skies that are for excellent star gazing. Although the mountains appear extremely rugged, they are actually quite fragile. Animal and plant life in the desert depend upon the limited water and soil resources in these mountains. For this reason, it is especially important for visitors to practice Leave No Trace principles in this wilderness.

Inyo Mountains Gallery of Images


Campsite in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness Inyo Mountains Wilderness Pat Keyes Trail Hiking in the Inyo Mountains View of Owens Valley from the Inyo Mountains

At a Glance

Permit Info:
  • Wilderness permit not required.
  • California Campfire Permit required for stove use.
  • Camping is prohibited within 1/4 mile of springs or surface water, Wilderness Regulations
Closest Towns:
  • Independence, CA (gas, food, lodging)
  • Lone Pine, CA (full service, hospital)
Information Center:

General Information

General Notes:

Wilderness Visitors… Please Leave No Trace

Plan Ahead and Prepare:

Preparing for a trip into Inyo Mountains WildernessWilderness permits are not required for either day hikes or overnight trips into the Inyo Mountains Wilderness.

Before your trip, leave your itinerary with someone who will notify Inyo County Sheriff if you are more than 24 hours overdue.

You need to have route finding and cross country navigational skills. Most routes include cross country travel through steep terrain. The few trails that still exist are remnants of the past. They are not maintained and may have filled in due to natural restoration processes or flash flooding.

Water is scarce. Consult USGS topographic maps for locations of springs; most of the canyons do not have perennial streams. Always hike with an ample supply of water – at least 1.5 gallons per person, per day. Snow at higher elevations may provide a water source during the spring. Be aware of signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces:

Travel and camp on durable surfaces.Choose your travel routes carefully. Avoid hiking in wet riparian areas. Travel on rock, gravel or sand when possible. Avoid trampling vegetation.

If camping away from a trail, choose an area without vegetation. Keep your stay short and disperse your camp activities over a wide area.

Dispose of Waste Properly:

For disposing of human waste use the “cat hole” method. Keep well away from trails, camps, and springs. Avoid areas where water has the potential to flow during a wet season like in washes and streambeds.

Place used toilet paper in plastic bags and pack it out as trash.

Please do not leave any garbage, abandon any gear, or leave caches within the wilderness.

Leave What You Find:

Bighorn sheep horn in the Inyo MountainsAll archeological resources are protected by law. Do not collect or damage prehistoric or historic artifacts or sites. Please take only photographs, leave only footprints and report vandalism.

Prehistoric sites are places of ancestral importance to Native Americans and should be treated with respect.

Please take only photographs, leave only footprints, and report vandalism.

Minimize Campfire Impact:

A metal bucket used as a fire panUse existing fire rings whenever possible. Burn all wood and charcoals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.  Avoid fires in the high elevation (9,500 feet) Bristlecone pine forests.

Respect Wildlife:

 Tarantula!Camps as far from water sources as possible (more than ¼ mile is preferred).  Avoid visiting water sources after dark, animals depend on the water for survival. 

Be Considerate of Other Users:

Campsite near Pat Keyes MineDo not leave garbage at trailhead campsites.

Bury your human waste well away from campsites, water and trailheads.


High clearance and/or four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles are generally necessary to access this wilderness area. Access to the west side is via 4WD routes off of Mazourka Canyon Road. Access to the east side is via 4WD routes off of Saline Valley Road.

Download    area map of Inyo Mountains Wilderness that depicts authorized travel routes. 


There are no developed trailheads. Vehicles must be parked within 30 feet of roads. At the end of 4WD routes, leave room for other vehicles to turn-around .

Recommended areas for dispersed camping (car-camping) outside of the wilderness area include Santa Rita Flat, Badger Flat, Harkless Flat, Papoose Flat, Squaw Flat and Saline Valley.


Day Hiking


Horse Riding