Wilderness Areas

Inyo National Forest contains approximately one million acres of wilderness, in nine wilderness areas. Wilderness areas include the Hoover,  Ansel Adams, Owens River Headwaters, John Muir, Golden Trout, South Sierra, Boundary Peak, White Mountains and Inyo Mountains. Three of these were among the first wilderness areas designated by Congress in 1964.

Approximately 30 million people live within a few hours’ drive. Forest visitors may use a network of trails that extend from Inyo National Forest into adjacent wilderness areas of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The iconic John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails pass through these continuous wilderness areas and encompass some of the most spectacular landscapes in the United States and provide forest visitors with "outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation”.

At a Glance

Permit Info: Wilderness Permits are required in John Muir, Ansel Adams, Hoover and Golden Trout Wildernesses. For more information about Wilderness Permits, click here...

General Information

General Notes:



The United States was the first country designate wilderness areas through law. When the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, our nation's leaders formally acknowledged the immediate and lasting benefits of wild places to the human spirit and fabric of our nation. That year, in a nearly unanimous vote, Congress enacted landmark legislation that permanently protected some of the most natural and undisturbed places in America, and provided a framework for designating additional wildlands.


Wilderness is untrammeled, undeveloped, primeval, unimpaired and natural. It is affected primarily by forces of nature, with man’s work substantially unnoticeable. It provides outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive and unconfined recreation.

From the Wilderness Act:


(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

Inyo National Forest works in partnership with adjacent agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Sierra National Forest, and Sequoia National Forest to preserve the wilderness character of these congressionally designated wilderness areas.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

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