Whether you are seeking a one day hiking challenge, an overnight ascent or beginning the trek of your dreams, climbing Mt. Whitney is sure to be a memorable experience. Located on the eastside of California's beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Mt Whitney Trail starts in Inyo National Forest at Whitney Portal, 8,300 feet above sea level. The trail gains over 6,200 feet of elevation before reaching the summit in Sequoia National Park. The summit of Mt. Whitney is the southern end of the John Muir Trail. Named for the naturalist, author and early wilderness preservation advocate, the John Muir Trail extends from the summit of Mt Whitney more than 200 miles north to reach Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley.
Most day hikers choose the classic Mt. Whitney Trail. The 22-mile round-trip hike will challenge even very fit hikers. Expect to hike 12 to 14 hours to the summit and back. Consider starting before sunrise. Be prepared to hike in the dark. Choose your dates wisely. The Mt. Whitney Trail is a non-technical, but strenuous, route to the summit when it is free of snow. However when snow or ice is on the mountain winter mountaineering skills and equipment are necessary for safe travel. The trail is usually snow-free from July to late September. Any day hikers attempting more technical rock climbing routes should carefully research the difficulty.
For the backpacker attempting to go up and back on the Mt. Whitney Trail, a popular travel plan is to stay one or two nights camping at Lone Pine Lake (10,000ft level), Outpost Camp (10,500ft level), Consultation Lake (11,000ft level) or Trail Camp (12,000ft level). The Mt Whitney Trail overnight permit can also be extended to continue onto the John Muir Trail giving the opportunity to trek the longest roadless section of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
For more information or help planning your trip, please call the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Office (760) 873-2483. Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit.
A wilderness permit for hiking or backpacking is required year round to visit Mt. Whitney.
Day Use – Mt Whitney Zone
This permit is valid for one day only, from midnight to midnight. Choose the route appropriate for your group, Mt. Whitney Trail or climbing routes like the Mountaineers Route.
Consecutive day use permits are not allowed.
Day Use permit cannot be used as part of an overnight trip to pass through the Mt Whitney Zone.
Map of Mt Whitney Zone (Day Use permit is required within the red boundary)
Overnight – Mt Whitney Trail
This permit includes multi-night trips starting on the classic Mt Whitney Trail and allows camping along the Mt Whitney Trail and summiting Mt. Whitney.
Permit can be extended to exit at other locations (High Sierra Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, even the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park).
Mt Whitney Trail permit is not valid for the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek approach to climbing routes like Mountaineers Route, East Face, East Buttress, or Mt Russell.
Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit, a special use permit may be needed.
Mt Whitney permits are by reservation only, no walk up. After the lottery any unclaimed dates will open for reservations on May 1.
Lottery results will be posted under individuals account profile on March 24th.
April 30 is the deadline to claim a date awarded from the lottery. You must complete the reservation details and pay the $15 per person reservation fee or your date will be canceled and released on May 1 for other groups to reserve.
No refunds for Mt Whitney reservations. Fees cannot be transferred to other dates, no rain checks or credits.
Permit will be canceled as a No Show unless you print your permit before the No Show deadline. One week before the trip you can print at home or request the permit. No Show / Print Permit Instructions
No Show Deadline:
The signed permit must be in the group leader’s possession during the trip and must be presented to rangers upon request. The group leader signing the permit is accepting responsibility that everyone in the group will follow the rules and regulations on the permit.
Be Bear Aware!
Be alert when arriving at night. There is a high level of bear activity at Whitney Portal. Do not leave food or refuse in your car or tent. Do not leave food or your pack unattended.
Human Waste Disposal
There are no restrooms along the trail. Mt. Whitney visitors are expected to pack-out their solid human waste (poop and paper). Pack-out kits are provided with your permit. Dispose of pack-out kits in the waste disposal box located near the restrooms at Whitney Portal Trailhead.
Respect other visitor’s desire for quiet and solitude. Help protect this natural resource and leave it unmarked for future visitors. Familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace principles and review rules with all group members.
Safety Is No Accident! Tips from Inyo County Search & Rescue
Prepare for your trip by getting in shape. Take time to acclimate to the effects of high altitude. Stay together in case your friends need help.
Entry Date & Exit Date
Entry Date is the day you will begin on the trail. Exit Date is the day you will come off the trail.
All people count for wilderness quotas and fees. Prices are not different for military, seniors or children.
A $6.00 non-refundable reservation fee is required for each permit reservation. The reservation fees are used to finance the on-line reservation system.
A $15.00 per person recreation fee is charged for trips entering the Whitney Zone (Mt. Whitney, North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, and Trail Crest Exit). The recreation fees are used to finance the on-the-ground wilderness programs in Inyo National Forest.
There are no refunds for Mt. Whitney permits.
Recreation fees cannot be transferred to alternate dates. No rain checks or credits.
Reservations cannot be sold or transferred. Only the group leader or alternate listed on the original reservation can pick up or use the permit. Leader or alternate leader names cannot be changed or added.
Changes you can make online:
Log onto your account at Recreation.gov to make changes or call the wilderness permit office for Inyo National Forest for reservation assistance (760) 873-2483.
351 Pacu Lane Bishop CA 93514