Minimum Impact Restrictions



Wilderness protection is the law, but it requires your personal commitment. All members of your group are responsible for the following minimum impact restrictions, both as hikers and stock users. A ranger will review these restrictions with you when you pick up your wilderness permit.


  • Wilderness permits are required for all overnight travel. A signed permit must be in the permitee's possession and must be presented to an authorized person upon request.
  • To prevent erosion and preserve vegetation, do not shortcut trails.
  • Do not build rock cairns or other trail markers.
  • Pets are not allowed in the wilderness.
  • Pack out all trash including toilet paper.
  • All wheeled vehicles and all motorized equipment are prohibited in the wilderness per the Wilderness Act of 1964.
  • Discharge of any firearm or weapon is prohibited. Possession of weapons, including bear spray, is prohibited. The possession of firearms is subject to state regulations.
  • You may encounter "Drift Fences" in the wilderness. These fences are utilized to keep stock (horses, mules, and llamas) from roaming freely or impacting ecologically sensitive areas. Each fence has either a sliding pole or swinging gate across the trail for visitors to pass through. Please close all gates behind you to protect wilderness resources
  • Maximum party size is 15 people on trail; 12 people off trail, except in Redwood Canyon, where groups are limited to 10 people and in these specific areas where the limit is 8 people off trail: Colony Mill Road Trail; Darwin Canyon/Lamarck Col (includes Class 1 trail area); Don Cecil Trail; Dusy Basin; Mt. Whitney Management Area/Mt. Langley (includes Class 1 trail area); Sixty Lake Basin; and Sphinx Lakes.
  • "Off trail" is 1/2 mile from a maintained trail for overnight use, and 100 yards from a maintained trail for day use areas.
  • Affiliated groups may not travel or camp within 1/2 mile of each other if the total group size exceeds the limits described above.
  • If traveling with stock, separate restrictions apply. Please view the stock information page.
  • If you will be day hiking there is a maximum party size of 25 people.
  • No camping within 25 feet of water. From 25 to 100 feet from water, camping is only allowed in previously established campsites.
  • Camp on durable surfaces (rock, sand, dirt, snow, etc.) or in designated campsites. Do not camp on vegetation or in meadows.
  • Do not construct rock walls, trenches, new fire rings (or add rocks to existing fire rings), bough beds, camp furniture, etc.
  • Do not camp before reaching the first camping area for your specific trailhead.
  • Do not camp under leaning trees or dead branches.
  • The Lakes Trail: No camping at Aster or Heather Lake. Camp only in designated sites at Pear and Emerald Lakes. Three night limit (combined).
  • High Sierra Trail: Camp only in designated sites at Bearpaw meadow. One night camping limit at Hamilton Lakes.
  • Redwood Canyon, the Don Cecil Trail, Dusy Basin (basin wide), and North Dome, have a two night camping limit.
  • Eagle/Mosquito Trails: No camping between the trail and Eagle Lake. No camping within 1/4 mile of first Mosquito Lake.
  • Atwell/Hockett: No camping between the trail and Whitman Creek.
  • Columbine Lake: No camping within 1/4 mile of the lake.
  • The Rae Lakes Loop Area: Camp only in designated sites in Lower Paradise Valley. (See temporary closure above) Two night camping limit in Paradise Valley. One night camping limit per lake between Dollar Lake and Glen Pass. No camping within a 1/4 mile of Bullfrog Lake. Two night camping limit at Charlotte and Kearsarge Lakes and along the John Muir Trail from Woods Creek Crossing to Vidette Meadow.
  • Mt. Whitney/Crabtree Area: No camping at Timberline Lake. Three night camping limit at lower and upper Soldier Lakes. Two night camping limit at Crabtree/Whitney Creek area and Guitar Lake.
  • Human waste must be buried at least 6 inches deep and 100 feet from trails, camps, and all water sources. Pack out used toilet paper.
  • All soap, including biodegradable soap, should be used and disposed of away from water sources. Carry water 100 feet from the source before washing. This includes washing clothes, dishes, and yourself.
  • A California fishing license is required. Below 9,000 feet elevation, native species (Rainbow Trout, Sacramento Sucker, Kern Rainbow, Sculpin, and Roach) must be released and only barbless artificial flies or lures are authorized. State regulations apply above 9,000 feet.
  • Wilderness is a place where self-reliance and preparedness is essential. Be prepared for a wide variety of hazardous situations.
  • Most wilderness illnesses are attributable to poor hygiene. Wash your hands often.
  • We recommend that you boil, treat, or filter drinking water.
  • Properly store food items when not in use to prevent bears and other wildlife from becoming conditioned to human food. Report any wildlife-related injuries, property damage or unusual encounters to a ranger.
  • Food items include: any food meant for human or pack stock consumption; food-tainted garbage, recyclables, and trash, such empty can, bottles, or food wrappers; any equipment with food residue or odor; toiletries such as soap, toothpaste, ointments, and lotions.
  • The only proper food storage methods are: using an allowed portable animal-resistant food-storage container; using a permanent animal-resistant food-storage box; or using the counter-balance hanging technique. When camping in an area with out food-storage boxes or adequate trees for hanging food, you must carry a park approved animal-resistant food-storage container.
  • Allowed animal-resistant food-storage containers are required in the following areas: North Dome, Rae Lakes loop (including the Woods Creek drainage south from Pinchot Pass, the Bubbs Creek drainage north of Forester Pass, and the Kearsarge Lakes area), Dusy Basin/Bishop Pass corridor, Rock Creek Drainage, and many Inyo National Forest trails.
  • Food-Storage boxes are for immediate on-site use only. Caching food or gear within food-storage boxes is prohibited.
  • All food items must be removed form your car and stored in the food-storage boxes at the trailhead including containers such as ice chest unless they are completely empty and free of all food residue.
  • Note that during times of high fire danger, addtional campfire restrictions may be implemented. Campfire restrictions also apply to the use of wood-burning camp stoves (e.g. Biolite or "Zip stoves").
  • In Kings Canyon National Park campfires are not allowed above 10,000 feet. In addition, fires are prohibited in Granite Basin and Redwood Canyon.
  • In Sequoia National Park west of the Great Western Divide campfires are not allowed above 9,000 feet. East of the Great Western Divide fires are not allowed above 10,000 feet. In addition fires are prohibited at Pinto Lake, Summit Lake Basin, Hamilton Lakes Basin, the Dillonwood area, and the Mineral King Valley above the ranger station.
  • Where campfires are allowed, use existing fire rings. Do not build new ones or add rocks to existing fire rings.
  • Use only dead or down wood found on the ground. Do not chop live vegetation or remove dead branches from standing trees.
  • Fires must be attended at all times.
  • Do not burn trash.(this includes plastic and foil).
  • Put out fires with water 1/2 hour before leaving your campsite and stir the ashes.
Search and rescue actions are conducted on a discretionary basis. The level and necessity and of the response is determined trough evaluation of the situation by field personnel. Rescuer safety is always our first priority. These parks expect visitors to exhibit a high degree of self-reliance and responsibility for their own safety commensurate with the difficulty of their chosen activities. The higher risk the activity the more you need to be prepared for dealing with emergency situations.
If you chose to carry a hand-held electronic signaling device, be familiar with its operation, limitations, and frequency of failure to transmit. Do not rely on it to summon rescue personnel or notify family that you are "OK."
If you find yourself in a true emergency, and have exhausted all means self-rescue/help contact an ranger in the field or call Park Dispatch at (559) 565-3195. There is little to no cell reception in most areas of these parks. When you make contact provide clear, concise, information regarding the nature and exact location of the problem or injury as well as the number of people involved. Be aware that help may be several days out. Be prepared to help yourself.
If you would like a copy of these restrictions you can download the Minimum Impact Restrictions here. If you have any questions please contact the Wilderness Office at (559) 565-3766.

Last updated: March 30, 2023

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