Get a Permit to Hike Mount Whitney

Get a Permit to Hike Mount Whitney
Access to Mount Whitney by hikers is limited and permits are required from May 1 through November 1 of every year. Permits are issued first through a lottery, and then on a first-come, first-served basis. While only 60 overnight permits and 100 day hike permits are issued for each day of the regulated period, turning in an application by a February lottery deadline will help secure your hiking plans.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Plan your hike well in advance. If you are planning to hike Mount Whitney during the regulated period (May 1 through November 1), make your plans by February for the best chance of getting a hiking permit.
Step 2
Download the lottery application from the Inyo National Forest website, or contact the Wilderness Permit Reservation Office (See Tips) to request that an application be mailed or faxed to you.
Step 3
Fill out the application completely, including the total number of people who will be hiking with you and as many alternate dates for your hike as possible. No more than 15 people may hike in a single group.
Step 4
Specify whether you are hiking during the day only or will be staying overnight, as the permits are different and cannot be used interchangeably.
Step 5
Submit your application via mail (See Tips) by the first week of February. All applications received by February 15 will be entered into a lottery and have the same chance of receiving permits for the upcoming season.
Step 6
Use delivery confirmation from the post office or send a self- addressed stamped post card if you would like to know when your application has arrived.
Step 7
Expect a response to your permit request by early April if you submit your application in time for the lottery.
Step 8
Do not submit multiple applications. Reservation fees paid for multiple applications will not be refunded.
Step 9
Pick up the permit that has been assigned to you by noon on the day before the hike. Any permits not picked up by the deadline will be forfeited without a refund.
Step 10
Obtain a permit after the lottery deadline on a first-come, first- served basis. After the lottery is complete, you can consult the permit availability calendar online to find out what dates permits are available and apply using the general Inyo Forest Wilderness Permit Application.

Tips & Warnings

Hike with a smaller group rather than a larger one to increase your chances of receiving a permit. If you are unsuccessful in obtaining a permit during the regulated period, consider hiking after November 1 and prior to May 1 when unlimited permits are available. You may also obtain a permit to hike Mount Whitney during the regulated period if anyone has cancelled. Check with the permit office the afternoon before you'd like to hike. To have a lottery application sent to you call the Wilderness Permit Reservation Office at (760) 873-2483. Mail your completed lottery application to: Mount Whitney Lottery, Wilderness Permit Office, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200, Bishop, CA 93514.

Article Written By Lesley Graybeal

Lesley Graybeal is a life-long nature and travel lover who spends her free time hiking and climbing in the Appalachians and the Rockies, and has also enjoyed mountain hikes in New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, South Korea, and Tibet.

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