6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Hello, Mount Whitney! Permit Quotas at Inyo National Forest Begin May 1st

Support Provided By
Clouds obscure a view of Mount Whitney, middle left, from Whitney Portal.

As summer's warm temperatures approach, hiking in California's higher altitude areas will become more and more of a destination. Besides Half Dome, one the most popular mountain hikes is Mount Whitney. At over 14,000 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the continental United States.

Permits from the Forest Service are required throughout the year to access the Mount Whitney Zone, the surrounding John Muir Wilderness and the Ansel Adams Wilderness to the north, but starting Sunday they will be a bit harder to obtain.

May 1st marks "quota season," when officials cap the amount of overnight backpackers and day hikers allowed into the areas*. Quotas are partially to stop overcrowding on the 22-mile round trip hike from Whitney Portal to the summit, but they are mostly in place to protect the fragile high alpine environment from impacts of humans (snow lessens the impact of hikers between November and the end of April, when there are no quotas, but only experienced hikers tend to take the journey at that time of the year).

Permits for overnight trips have been spoken for already as the Forest Service holds a lottery each winter. Over 4,000 people got lucky this year, but another 3,000 did not. That said there are plenty of last minute cancellations, which let rangers release reservations at 11 a.m. each day (for trip starting that day) at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine.

Day hikers also go through a lottery process, filling up spots July through September when the ice and snow has mostly melted away, but spots are still available in other months. Again, there are last-minute cancellations, which are released at 2 p.m. the day before a permit's availability.

All this can be a bit confusing, but a hike up Mount Whitney is not something you wake up and just decide to do. As Casey Schreiner at Modern Hiker advises, you really need to plan ahead. The Inyo National Forest's Recreation Passes and Permits webpage has all the information you need. Once there, the most useful links are:

*Hoover and Golden Trout wilderness areas also require permits, but there are no quotas.
The photo used on this post is by Flickr user Alan Vernon. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

Support Provided By
Read More
Locals walk along the coast of Victoria Beach as the medieval looking tower stands over them.

Five SoCal Beaches for More Than Just Sand and Surf

While most people hit the ocean to catch a wave, here are five SoCal beaches that offer more than just the typical surf and sand.
The landscape at Whitewater Preserve

Where to Explore the Coachella Valley Outdoors (Before It Gets Too Hot)

Whether you’re an off-roader, a two-legged trekker or even an earthquake tourist, here are five great outdoor destinations in the Coachella Valley — no festival pass needed.
Exterior of the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

12 Fascinating Bikeable Spots to Explore in WeHo’s Rainbow District

Whether you’ve got your own wheels or need to borrow some, here are some fascinating points of interest along the first mile of West Hollywood — from intriguing public art to a cornucopia of architectural styles, and even some rock and roll history.