Recreation

Mount Whitney Lottery - Permit Reservations

Hikes occurring May 1 through November 1 are reserved by the Mt Whitney Lottery. Please note the trail is not usually clear of snow until July.

If you are using any route other than the Mt. Whitney Trail review what permit is required, not all trips to Mt Whitney are reserved in the lottery.

Permits for winter season trips are available at the visitor center, Permit Pickup Instructions.

2018 Mt. Whitney Lottery Results

View your  individual lottery results by logging into your Recreation.gov account beginning on March 24th. You must wait until April to accept or decline.

The lottery application is completed online between Feb 1 and March 15. You indicate your desired dates, group size and your preference of day hike or overnight permit. List up to 3 alternate leaders and your order of prefrence for up to 15 alternate trip choices on one application.

  • Applications cannot be changed or modified after they are submitted. Double check all your dates and information!
  • Pay transaction fee and check out the shopping cart to submit your on line lottery application (applications are not accepted by mail or fax).
  • After March 15 all the applications will be assigned a random order and software will check if there is space for dates you requested.
  • On March 24 results are posted to your personal profile on recreation.gov.

Lottery Terms: Please submit only one application. Groups that submit multiple applications requesting the same date may be rejected. You are limited to win one trip from the lottery each year. If you want multiple trips in the same year, additional reservations can be made when remaining space goes on sale April 1.

  • Groups larger than 15 people are prohibited.
  • Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the Inyo National Forest wilderness permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit.
  • Alternate leaders cannot be added or changed after the lottery, only the leader or alternate leader listed on the application can pick up or use the permit.
  • Reservations cannot be resold or transfered.
  • Reservations are only valid for the stated entry date or permit type. 

Fees: No Refunds.
Transaction Fee: List up to 15 trip choices and 3 alternate leaders for one $10 application fee.
Reservation Fee: Lottery winners must pay a $15.00 per person reservation fee by April 30, 2017 to claim any awarded date. Unclaimed dates will be canceled.

In the event of a lapse in federal government funding, the Recreation.gov website will lock. The website will reopen once Congress restores funding (within 24 hours) and the Mt Whitney Lottery will resume on the same time line. 

Lottery Application Help Sheet

What are My Chances?   Can I change my dates?  Will there be Snow?

2017 Mt Whitney Lottery Statistics

Last Report - Weekly Lottery Progress (data: Noon March 8, 2018 )

Lottery Timeline

Feb 1 through March 15: Enter lottery online at www.recreation.gov (closes on March 15 at midnight Eastern time) Late applications will not be accepted. All the applications are processed together in one lottery after March 15.

March 24: Preview results by logging into your account and view your lottery application. You must wait until April 1 to accept or decline.

April 1: Mini- On-sale. Any remaining space opens for real time web reservations for the remainder of the season.

  • Cancelations and declined space will be added back to the reservation calendar within 24 hours at a random time.
  • On-sale opens at 7 am Pacific Time (No phone reservations)

April 1- April 30: Accept or decline if you won a date from the lottery. Verify your group size, complete your trip information, and pay the $15 per person reservation fee to claim your reservation.

April 30: Deadline closes at midnight Eastern Time. You must accept and pay the reservation fee, or the lottery win will be revoked and canceled. You must complete checking out the cart before midnight!

May 1: All unclaimed lottery dates are canceled and released for web reservations (space is released within 24 hours at random times) If space is available web reservations can be made for the remainder of the season, up to two days before the trip.

Two Permits are in the Lottery

     Day Use in the Mt. Whitney Zone
     Overnight - Mt. Whitney Trail
Day use and overnight permits are not interchangeable, you must have a permit for the type of trip you are doing.

Day Use – Mt. Whitney Zone
If the entire trip will be on one calendar date and you will enter the Mt. Whitney Zone, a Day Use permit is required. Day Use permits are required for all routes including access to Mountaineer’s Route, East Face/Buttress routes, or Mt Russell. Consecutive day use permits are not allowed. If a trip is more than one calendar date an Overnight permit is required.

Overnight -Mt Whitney Trail
Overnight or multi-night trips require an Overnight permit. This includes camping at Lone Pine Lake, camping in the Mt. Whitney Zone, and trips that cross into Sequoia National Park to continue on the John Muir, Pacific Crest or other trails. A Day Use permit cannot be used to pass through the Mt Whitney zone as part of an overnight trip. An Overnight permit to use the Mt Whitney trail does not include other routes.*

*Not all trips to Mt. Whitney are in the Lottery

The Overnight- Mt. Whitney Trail permit does NOT give access to Mountaineer’s Route, East Face/Buttress routes, Mt Russell or locations on the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. If your trip is overnight and you’re not going up the Mt Whitney Trail to start, it's not in the lottery! Link to Other Permits to Mt. Whitney.

Recommended reading, "Hiking the Mt Whitney Trail
Links to trail information: Mt. Whitney Trail  -  North Fork Lone Pine Creek  

Mount Whitney Zone Map

This map shows where day hikers are required to have a wilderness permit (all the area in the RED boundary).

Overnight permits are required for all multi day trips in the wilderness. This includes outside the RED zone, camping at Lone Pine Lake, and trips that will pass through the Whitney Zone to the park.

Whitney Zone Map shows permit requirement areas

What are My Chances?

In 2017 we had more than 15,000 applications resulting in a 35% success rate as more people compete for the same dates.

What is the frequency of cancelations and no show?
In 2014 a study of cancelation rates found the following for Mt Whitney Day Use and Mt Whitney Trail Overnight, the cancelation rate in recent years has been similar.

Will there Be Snow? Frequently Asked Questions
General Rules for Mt. Whitney
Apply online at www.recreation.gov  

Changing a Lottery Application
Once an application is submitted (cart checked out) you cannot make changes to any of the information on the application.

  • To change the entry date, entry trail or permit type, you must withdraw the application and reapply before March 15. Contact the wilderness permit office to withdraw an application.
  • During the acceptance period you can decline a date, no additional fees would apply.
  • Increase of group size can be made on line after April 1, Only if space is available.
  • Alternate leaders cannot be added or changed. Only the leader or alternate leader listed on the application can pick up or use the permit.

Changing a Reservation
Some changes can be made on reservations

  • If space is available, changes to group size can be made online beginning April 1.
  • Corrections to itinerary or exit location can be done when the permit is issued.
  • There are no credits or refunds if you cancel a reservation to rebook a diffrent date. Fees /No Refund Policy

However, other changes are not allowed

  • Alternate leaders cannot be added or changed. Only the leader or alternate leader listed on the application can pick up or use the permit.
  • Reservations are only valid for the stated entry date or permit type. No rain checks. No rescheduling.
  • Reservations cannot be resold or transferred to other groups.

Obtaining Your Permit
Mt. Whitney permits are issued at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center. Only the leader or listed alternate leader can pick up or use the permit. Show photo ID when requested. If your permit qualifies for night box service you can also pre arrange to pick up your permit from Will Call during open hours.
Winter trips starting before May 1 do not need reservations.
Permit Pickup Instructions.

After the Lottery

Making a Reservation after the Lottery

After the Mt Whitney Lottery, any remaining dates may be reserved on the website www.recreation.gov beginning at 10:00am Eastern Time on April 1st. When searching for an available date, the letter "R" on the reservation calendar indicates that date is full. Reductions in group size and canceled space will be released for web reservations at a random time within 24 hours of cancelation. A reservation is not final until you have successfully completed checking out the shopping cart and paid reservation fees in full.

Did you win a date in Mt. Whitney lottery? How to Accept or Decline

On March 24 you can log on to view lottery results, however you will have to wait until April to Accept or Decline the date. Only accept for a permit that you want to use. You cannot change the date, leader, or permit type. Use this time to determine the group size you want to accept. If you accept for a smaller group size the space given up cannot be restored. If you accept for a larger group size, note there are no refunds for the per person reservation fee.

Between April 1 and April 30 Accept or Decline your awarded date. Log into your account on recreation.gov and open the link to your lottery application.

Decline: If you’re not interested in using the awarded date you should decline. Dates cannot be transfered, rescheduled, traded, or sold. No penalty or additional fees will apply. Space from declined, canceled or reduced group size will be released for web reservations within 24 hours at a random time.

Accept: Only Accept a Date you Want to Use 
To accept you will need to complete trip information and use the shopping cart to complete credit card payment information. Fees are based on the number of people you are claiming. Fees are final after checking out the cart. No Refunds.

  • Verify date, permit type, and group size are what you want.
  • Itinerary: For overnight trips longer than one night, verify your Exit Date and Exit Trail. John Muir Trail hikers can complete their full itinerary later. To expedite checking out the cart, list your exit date as a short trip. Once the reservation fee is paid you can reopen the reservation later (after April 30) to update your final destination and itinerary for the permit to include the entire trip.
  • Group size: You may reduce your group size. Reduced space cannot be restored. If space becomes available, you can add to your group size at another time.
  • To complete the acceptance, you must check out the shopping cart and pay the $15.00 per person reservation fees.

You must complete paying the per person reservation fee by checking out the cart before midnight Eastern Time on April 30, or the reservation will be canceled.

Did you miss the Mt. Whitney Lottery?

New software is in development for the 2019 season. Some changes may be made to future lotterys.

After April 1: All unclaimed lottery dates are canceled and released for web reservations (at a random time)

  • Mt. Whitney permits may be reserved on the website www.recreation.gov if space is available.
  • The letter [R] on the reservation calendar indicates that date is full.
  • Space from cancelations or group size reductions return to the reservation website at a random time within 24 hours.

If you are using any route other than the Mt. Whitney Trail, review what permit is required.

Planning for Future Years? A Lottery is held each spring for reservations to hike Mt. Whitney in the current season. Apply to the Mt. Whitney lottery between February 1 and March 15 on the website, www.recreation.gov. After the lottery reservations will open on April 1 for any dates available for the remainder of the season.

 

Still have questions? Call the Wilderness Permit Office at (760) 873-2483 or by email (use Feedback Form) to Contact Us