Wilderness Permits & Reservations

Franklin Lake at sunset

Franklin Lake at sunset.

Photo by N. Ver

 

General Permit Information

  • Wilderness permits are required year-round for all overnight trips in wilderness areas. Day hiking and camping in designated car campgrounds does not require a wilderness permit.
  • During the busiest time period (late May to late September) the parks protect wilderness areas by using a trailhead quota system to regulate the number of backpackers starting each trail, each day.

INSIDE THE QUOTA PERIOD:

May 22, 2015 to September 26, 2015
During this time period, there is a $15 wilderness permit fee per group, and permits are issued on the day of your hike by trailhead rangers during operating hours. The rangers provide important information about trail conditions in the area. NO night drops are permitted. You may, however, obtain permits the afternoon prior to your hike date (after 1:00pm).

Approximately three-quarters of the daily trail quota (see trail descriptions) may be reserved in advance. The remaining spaces are available on a first-come-first-served basis. The $15 fee applies to both walk-up and reserved permits; and both walk-up and reserved permits must be picked up at the issuing station closest to your trailhead.

The following are the permit-issuing locations and operating hours for the 2014 season (subject to change slightly for 2015):

  • Grant Grove Visitor Center 8:00am to 4:30pm daily
  • Lodgepole Visitor Center 7am to 3:30pm daily (closed from 11am-12pm for lunch)
  • Road's End Permit Station 7:00am to 3:45pm daily
  • Mineral King Ranger Station 8:00am to 3:45pm daily
  • Wilderness Office (located below the Foothills Visitor Center) 8:00am to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday. This location accepts credit cards and checks only. No cash. Permits are available at the Foothills Visitor Center on Saturdays and Sundays.

OUTSIDE THE QUOTA PERIOD:

September 28, 2014 to May 21, 2015

September 27, 2015 to May 27, 2016
Wilderness permits are free, self-issued, and are not limited to daily entry quotas during this time period. The information you provide on your self-issued permit may be helpful in a search and rescue incident.

Self-issue permit stations are available 24 hours a day at the following locations:

  • Outside the Giant Forest Museum
  • Outside the Kings Canyon Visitor Center (in Grant Grove)
  • Outside the Roads End Permit Station (note: In the winter, the road is closed to vehicles approximately 15 miles from Road's End)
  • At the South Fork Campground
  • Outside the Mineral King Ranger Station and road-side near Atwell Mill. (note: in the winter the Mineral King road is gated 10 miles from Highway 198 at the park boundary. For access past the boundary gate, contact the Foothills Visitor Center. A second gate is located approximately 17 miles from Highway 198. There is no vehicle access past the second gate.)

Reservations
Reservation applications for trips taking place within the quota period are only accepted by fax or by US mail. Reservations can be made no earlier than midnight March 1st, and no later than two weeks prior to the trip. (Note: the popular "Lakes Trail" to Emerald Lake and Pear Lake is non-reservable. First come, first served.)

Trail Head Availability: Check which trailhead start dates are booked by clicking here.

If you will be entering Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks but starting your trip outside of the parks (i.e. surrounding Forest Service lands) you can obtain your permit for your entire itinerary from the agency where your trip begins. To hike Mount Whitney from the east side of the Sierra Nevada, contact Inyo National Forest http://www.fs.usda.gov/inyo (760) 873-2483

Did You Know?