The trail to Mount Whitney starts on the Inyo National Forest in California's beautiful Eastern Sierra. Many hikers choose to travel to the summit and back in one day. Backpackers can begin trips of one or more nights on the Mt. Whitney Trail. The summit of Mount Whitney is also the southern end of the John Muir trail that travels from Mt. Whitney to Yosemite National Park. Whether you are seeking a one day hiking challenge or beginning the trek of your dreams, Mt. Whitney offers a memorable experience. While you are here, be respectful of water, woods and wildlife. Visitors to the Mt. Whitney Zone are expected to pack out their solid human waste. Travel lightly on the land. Remember to leave this place undamaged, so it will continue to be what we seek of wilderness.
Mt. Whitney Lottery: Permits for Mt. Whitney are reserved by a lottery due to the high demand for reservations. All the applications will be included in a computerized lottery. You apply for the dates, group size and if it's a day hike or overnight permit. List up to 15 alternate choices. Dates in July, August and September usually fill completely from the lottery.
- Applications are accepted on-line from February 1 through March 15 (until midnight Eastern Time).
- After March 15, all the applications will be processed in a computerized drawing.
- March 23 - Lottery result email sent.
- On April 1, any remaining space will open for online reservations.
- April 1- April 30, Accept or Decline dates won in the lottery. Complete trip information and pay the $15 per person reservation fee to claim your reservation.
- April 30- Deadline to Accept or Decline is midnight Eastern time, or the reservation will be canceled.
- On May 1, all remaining unclaimed dates are canceled and released for web reservations at random times.
Cancellations will be made available for reservations within 24 hours. Space is not saved for walk-in permits. There is no wait list for cancelations. If space is available, reservations can be made until two days before a trip entry date.
Before you apply, use these questions to see if your trip is in the lottery.
- Question 1. When does your trip begin?
For trips that begin during the quota period, May 1 through November 1, Go to Question 2.
Winter season trips are not reserved in the lottery.
- Question 2. Is your trip a day hike into the Mt. Whitney Zone?
Yes for Question 1 & 2; Enter the lottery to reserve a Day Use Permit!
A Day Use permit cannot be used as part of an overnight trip to pass through the Mt. Whitney Zone, You would need an Overnight permit.
Whitney Zone Map
- Question 3. Overnight and multi-night trips - Where does your trip begin?
Look at the Whitney Zone map to determine the trail name. If you are starting on the Mt. Whitney Trail, enter the lottery to reserve an overnight permit. Go to Inyo National Forest - Wilderness Permits to reserve the North Fork of Lone Pine or other trails.
- Question 4. Are you getting any service from a commercial guide or pack outfit?
Book the trip directly with the commercial guide or pack station. Schools and other organizations may need a Special Use Permit. Making your own non-commercial reservation does not guarantee approval for your trip.
Know Before You Go
Choose your dates wisely. The Mt. Whitney Trail is a non-technical, but strenuous, route to the summit of Mt. Whitney when it is free of snow. Winter mountaineering skills and equipment are necessary for safe travel when snow is on the mountain.
This is an Active Bear Area!
- May-June: The winter snowpack slowly recedes. Expect snow on the ground above Lone Pine Lake through Memorial Day weekend, and snow on the switchbacks above Trail Camp through June. Nights are usually still below freezing. Winter-like storms are still possible. There was snow on the trail until after July 4th in 2011.
- July-early September: The trail is usually snow free and the weather can be fair and pleasant. At elevations above Trail Camp, it is often cold and windy. Thunderstorms and lightning are a significant hazard. If thunderstorms are forecast, plan to leave the summit by noon. Be aware thunderstorms sometimes will occur early in the day. At the first sign of lightning, leave the summit area or exposed ridge tops.
- Late September-October: Short days and cold temperatures make day hikes to the summit difficult. Storms may bring severe cold with high winds and snow deposits from a few inches to several feet. Thin snow may melt quickly, but deeper drifts may linger for the winter. Winter mountaineering equipment and skills are necessary for safe travel when snow is on the mountain.
- November-April: Winter prevails, with deep snow and very cold temperatures. Winter storms may drop several feet of snow and have winds over 100 mph. The road to Whitney Portal is usually closed 8.3 miles from Lone Pine (at elevation 6,400 ft., about 3 miles from the trailhead) from mid-November to late April. Experienced winter mountaineers should be suitably equipped for extreme conditions and check avalanche conditions and weather forecasts.
Be alert when arriving at night. DO NOT leave food or refuse in your car. Do not leave food or your pack unattended.
- At Whitney Portal: All food and scented items must be removed from vehicles and stored in the bear proof lockers located in parking areas. Dispose of trash in bear resistant trash cans.
- On the trail: Day hikers, keep your pack with you at all times. Overnight hikers, bear resistant containers are required for storage of all food and trash.
- All visitors are expected to pack out their solid human waste.
- Only the group leader or listed alternate can use the permit; reservations cannot be transferred.
- Whitney Portal Campground is not in the wilderness area and is a separate reservation.
- Entry date is the date your group must start on the trail.
- Day Use can be by any route in the Mt .Whitney Zone, for one day only- Midnight to midnight.
- Mt. Whitney Trail Overnight is backpacking one or more nights, starting on the Mt. Whitney trail. Mountaineers route is NOT included.
- Day Use of Mt. Whitney Zone: If the entire trip will be on one calendar date the trip is day use; if you will enter the Mt. Whitney Zone, a Mt. Whitney Zone Day Use permit is required. This permit allows your choice of routes, including the Mt. Whitney trail and North Fork of Lone Pine Creek trail (access to climbing routes like Mountaineers Route, East Face and East Buttress and Mt Russell).
- Consecutive day use permits are not allowed. If a trip is more than one calendar date an Overnight permit is required.
- A day use permit cannot be used as part of an overnight trip to pass through the Mt Whitney Zone.
- Mt Whitney Trail Overnight: Trips lasting one or more nights require an Overnight permit. This is for the regular trail that goes to the top of Mt. Whitney and includes trips that continue into Sequoia National Park (i.e., Pacific Crest and John Muir trails).
- This permit does NOT include the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek trail (access to the Mountaineer's Route, East Face / Buttress, Mt. Russell)
Changes to Reservations: There are NO refunds for Mt. Whitney permits. Be sure your dates and permit type are correct. Day use and overnight permits are not interchangeable. (link to FEES here)
- Reservations cannot be sold or transferred; only the group leader or listed alternate can use the permit.
- Changes to group size can be made on line.
- To change the entry date, trail or permit type, cancel and re-book for the desired trip.
- Corrections to itinerary or exit date for overnight trips can be done when the permit is issued.
Permit Pick Up: You should receive a reminder email 14 days before your trip. THIS IS NOT YOUR PERMIT!
Confirm your group size online 2 to 14 days before your trip, or your reservation will be canceled.
Pick up the actual permit at the Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center, near Lone Pine, CA.93545.
- Only the group leader or alternate leader that is listed on the application can pick up or use the permit. (Show photo id when requested).
- Leader must carry the permit while on the trip. A reservation receipt is not proof of having a valid permit.
- Instructions for permit pick up and group size confirmation, (Click Here).
that start on other trails in Inyo National Forest can be reserved (Click Here
) up to 6 months in advance.
- This includes the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek trail to the Mountaineer's Route, East Face / Buttress, Mt. Russell and other climbs in this isolated canyon.
- Trips that will exit the Mt Whitney trail (Trail Crest to Whitney Portal) have an exit quota that will apply to the date you finish at the Portal. These dates fill quickly. Reserve the entry trail with permit type "Exit Mt. Whitney". Be sure your dates are what you want; exit date can not be saved if you change the entry date.
Book the trip directly with the commercial guide or pack station. Schools and other organizations may need a special use permit. Making your own non-commercial reservation does not guarantee approval for your trip. Trips starting in Yosemite, Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Parks,
contact the park where you will start the trip for information.
Refer to the Rules and Regulations for information about permit terms, entry quotas, group size limits, food storage and other wilderness regulations.
Rules and regulations for Mt. Whitney
Contact InformationInyo National Forest
351 Pacu Lane
Bishop, CA 93514