Wilderness Permits & Reservations

Franklin Lake at sunset
Franklin Lake at sunset.

Photo by N. Ver


Wilderness Permits During Non-Quota Season (9/20/2020-5/27/2021)

Outside the quota season wilderness permits are free, self-issued, and are not limited to daily entry quotas. Non-quota season this year will be from September 20th, 2020 through May 27, 2021. Self-issue wilderness permits are available at the nearest permit-issuing station. Please fill out the permit legibly and completely. The information you provide on your self-issued permit may be helpful in a search and rescue incident.

With reduced services in the parks, it is particularly important that visitors plan ahead and arrive prepared for their trip. Rangers are not available to answer questions at the trailhead. Animal-resistant food storage containers (bear canisters) are still required in most of the park, but may not be available for rental. Rent or buy an appropriate food storage container before arriving in the park. Frontcountry camping is currently closed in accordance with regional restrictions and camping outside of established campgrounds such as trailhead parking lots is not permitted.

For information about other changes and the availability of services in the parks, please visit our current conditions page.


Wilderness Permits During Quota Season - New Reservation System!

During the quota season (May 28, 2021 - September 18, 2021) the number of people beginning trips each day is limited by entry point and a recreation fee is required. Reservations are available for most, but not all entry points.

Important Permit Reservation Changes in 2021
Advance reservations for wilderness permits can be made using the website Recreation.gov. Reservations will be available for trip dates beginning up to 6 months in advance and will continue to be reservable up to 1 week prior to the start of the trip. Reservations will go live on www.recreation.gov starting on February 9, 2021 at 7:00am/pacific time. At this time, we are also planning to resume in-person, “walk-up” permit issuance for the 2021 quota season. This means that a limited number of first-come, first-served permits will be available daily at select permit issuing stations in Cedar Grove, Grant Grove, Lodgepole, the Foothills, and Mineral King. Because of the pandemic, we are working on safety measures to make this possible while protecting visitor and employee health. Walk up permit availability will be subject to possible change if pandemic conditions necessitate to ensure visitor and staff safety.

Wilderness Permit Reservations (Quota Season):

Step 1: Plan Your Trip
Decide where you want to go by looking at the Trail Descriptions, the Park Atlas and Trail Conditions web pages or by visiting Recreation.gov.

Find the name and quota limit for your desired entry point on the Wilderness Trip Planner, entry quota map, or at Recreation.gov.

You can check space for the date that you wish to start your trip on Recreation.gov. Reservations can be made beginning up to 6 months in advance of the desired trip date. Reservations for the 2021 quota season are scheduled to be available beginning February 9 at 7:00 am/pacific time.

Step 2: Create a Recreation.gov Account
Creating an account with www.recreation.gov will allow you to make reservations, submit payment, and make changes to existing trips. No account is needed to view availability or permit information, but you’ll need to register for an account to make any reservations you are interested in and to submit payments for the same. Emailed applications are no longer accepted; go to Recreation.gov to make your 2021 trip reservation.

Step 3: Check Availability
Go to Recreation.gov. Enter your party size and date range to see trailhead quota availability. Reservations can be made between six months and one week prior to your entry date. Carefully choose your entry point and entry date – these cannot be modified later without creating a new reservation.

Step 4: Provide Trip Details and Information
You have the ability to enter up to three alternate trip leaders who can pick up the permit in your place. Select your entry point, entry date, exit point, exit date, and nightly itinerary to the best of your ability; exit dates and nightly itinerary can be modified later but providing an accurate itinerary will save you time at the trailhead. Entry date and trailheads cannot be modified once a reservation is made. Make sure your itinerary conforms to rules and regulations.

Step 5: Finalize Your Reservation and Secure It
Wilderness permits cost $15 each trip plus $5 per person within the quota season. You will be able to pay for your permit directly on Recreation.gov. The fee is non-transferable, not for use in future years, and is not for re-sale. Refunds of the per-person portion of the fee will now be available in the event of cancellations or party size reductions up to 1 week before the trip starts.

Step 6: Permit Pick Up
Once your payment is made, you will receive an email confirmation to the email address on your Recreation.gov account. Your confirmation letter is not a wilderness permit and cannot be used for overnight travel. Print and bring it with you to the trailhead desk at the start of your trip. You will also need to bring proof of your identity. Your confirmation letter will include details on where to pick up your permit. Wilderness permits are only issued during Permitting Desk Operating Hours by trailhead rangers who provide important area information at the correct trailhead desk location. Bring your entire party to the orientation.

There are no, “night drops”. You may pick up your wilderness permit as early as 1:00 pm the day prior to your entry date or no later than 9:00 am on the morning of your entry date. If you need to pick up your permit later than 9:00 am on the morning of your entry date, simply notify the Wilderness Office by calling 559-565-3766 and leave a message including your permit number and name. You can also e-mail at seki_wilderness_office@nps.gov ahead of time. If you do not make arrangements for a late pickup, your reservation will be canceled at 9:00 am and your spot(s) may be given to people waiting for walk-up permits.

Walk Up Wilderness Permits (Quota Season)

Step 1: Plan Your Trip
Decide where you want to go by looking at Trail Descriptions, the Park Atlas and Trail Conditions. Find the name of and quota limit for your desired trailhead on the Wilderness Trip Planner, entry quota map, or at Recreation.gov.

Step 2: Create a Recreation.gov Account (optional).
While optional, creating a recreation.gov account before your trip will save time at the trailhead.

Step 3: Permit Issuance and Payment
Walk-up permits can be obtained starting from 1:00pm the day before your trip begins. Permits are only issued during Permitting Desk Operating Hours by trailhead rangers who provide important area information. You must arrive at the correct trailhead desk for the trailhead you are hoping to snag a walk up permit on. Bring your entire party to the orientation. You will pay the fee of $15 per permit plus $5 per person at the issuing station. Please note credit cards are the preferred payment method.

Starting your trip outside of the parks?
If you will be entering Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks but starting your trip outside of the parks you can generally obtain your permit for your entire itinerary from the agency where your trip begins (e.g. the Inyo, Sierra, or Sequoia national forests, or Yosemite National Park). If you will be accessing the park through the Jennie Lakes wilderness (Sequoia National Forest), obtain a permit through recreation.gov following the steps above for the JO Pass, Belle Canyon, or Sugarloaf entry points. To hike Mount Whitney from the east side of the Sierra Nevada, visit Inyo National Forest's website or call them at (760) 873-2483. For trips of 500 miles or more along the Pacific Crest Trail, you may obtain a permit from the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

Notable changes of the Recreation.gov transition.

No mail, email, or fax reservations requests will be accepted.

The reservation window can be as early as 6 months in advance to one week prior to your desired start date.

Real-time reservation availability can be checked on Recreation.gov.

An instant reservation confirmation will be emailed to you.

You can list up to 3 alternate trip leaders.

There’s a limit of six active permits at any given time.

The reservation fee base price has increased from $10 to $15, but the per-person fee will stay at $5.

Integrated payment options allow the ability to pay entry fees and/or make campground reservations at the same time you make a permit reservation. Please look for more information on the recreation.gov website.

Refunds for cancellations and party size reductions (>1 week).

Ability to modify your exit date and itinerary locations through Recreation.gov.

Email communications about trail closures, advisories and important information through Recreation.gov.

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Last updated: February 9, 2021

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47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


(559) 565-3341

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