Be respectful of other campers by observing quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Don't shout, talk or sing loudly, and keep music to a level that is only audible in your campsite. Sites that have not been occupied in 24 hours will be considered abandoned, and any property will be impounded. Don't use any type of soap in the rivers, and don't make improvements to your campsite. This would include leveling the ground, digging or trenching and building walls. If possible, bring wood from home for campfires. If you must gather wood, take only dead and fallen wood. Don't cut trees to obtain wood for campfires.
You absolutely must follow the food storage regulations when camping in Kings Canyon. "Food" includes food, soda cans, canned foods, bottled beverages, empty or full coolers, trash, pet foods, toiletries, tobacco products, air freshener, mosquito repellent, baby wipes, window cleaner, lipstick and anything that has a scent. You must remove these items from the vehicle and place them in the bear-resistant food-storage lockers located at each campsite. If you are staying in a front-country area where the lockers are not provided, then you must store all of the items inside the building so that the food is not visible from the outside of the building. In all other areas, keep food stored in the trunk of the vehicle. If there is no trunk, place these items in the lowest area of the vehicle and cover so that they are not visible. Keep doors and windows to the vehicle closed. Carry out, but do not bury, all refuse and garbage; buried refuse attracts bears. Also, when camping, baby seats should be taken out of the vehicle and stored in the same manner as food.
Backcountry, or wilderness, permits are required and can be secured through the ranger station nearest your trailhead. You can make a reservation to guarantee the date and trailhead for a backcountry trip. Although there is no cost for the permit itself, there is a non-refundable $10 reservation fee, and any unreserved spaces will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. You can pick up reserved permits after 1 p.m. preceding the beginning of the hike, and they can be held until 9 a.m. the morning of the hike. Call the ranger station to hold your reserved permit if you see that you are going to be late. First-come permits due to unclaimed reserved permits will be available at 1 p.m. the day before the trip. If other reserved permits are not claimed, there may be more first-come permits after 9 a.m. on the morning of the trip. When making a reservation, you will have to provide required information such as the beginning and end dates of the trip, the desired trailhead, the method of travel (horse, foot, ski or snowshoe), number in your party, estimate of camping location and number of nights desired, and your name, address and phone number. You can fax or mail this information to Wilderness Permit Reservations, and you should receive written confirmation with three weeks.
Wilderness Permit Reservations
HCR 89 Box 60
Three Rivers, CA 93271
Fax (559) 565-4239
It is not uncommon to see bears in Kings Canyon, so there are certain precautions that you must take to insure your own safety, as well as that of the bear. Do not take pets to Kings Canyon; they are prohibited in the backcountry, and a dog's attempt to protect may bring the wrath of a bear right to you. Do not go near them. Make some type of noise, whether talking, singing or whistling when you are hiking in areas of limited visibility or if you see signs of bears. Good indications that there is a bear in the area are fresh tracks, droppings and diggings. Typically, bears will run away, and a bear standing on its hind legs is not necessarily the sign of an impending attack, but may only be a way to sense you better. Stay at least 50 yards from any bear, but increase that distance to 100 yards if the bear is a female with young. If you do see a bear at a distance, this is the time to take a photograph. Never attempt to go near a bear to take a picture; use a telephoto lens or be satisfied with a distant shot. Then turn around, staying upwind from the bear so that it gets your scent and is aware that you are there, then make a wide detour around the animal. Even if you do not see cubs, always treat bears as if there are cubs present. Anglers are recognized by bears as a food source, so if you become aware of a bear's presence while fishing, stop until the bear has left the area.
Although there is only a very slight chance that you will see a cougar here, they are present and you should be prepared. Any mountain lion sightings should be reported to a ranger immediately. Never go hiking alone, and do not allow children to run ahead of you on the trail, or to lag behind. Cougars are the largest carnivore in this area, and they associate running with prey. Don't attempt to hide from the animal; it has likely seen you long before you knew it was near. Instead, stand tall and try to appear as large as possible. Never bend over or crouch down, and pick up children without bending over. Hold your ground, but slowly move away without turning your back on the cougar. If the animal does act aggressively, wave your hands, yell or throw sticks or rocks at it. Should it turn into an attack, don't run, but face the cat and fight back.