Wilderness Permits & Reservations

Franklin Lake at sunset
Franklin Lake at sunset.

Photo by N. Ver


Wilderness permits are required year-round for all overnight trips in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks' wilderness.

Significant changes are being made for the 2020 wilderness permit quota season (May 22, 2020 to September 19, 2020) in accordance with CDC, state, and local public health guidance related to COVID-19.

Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips. Our quota system remains in place, limiting the number of people entering the wilderness each day, from each trailhead, in accordance with the parks’ Wilderness Stewardship Plan. Day hiking does not require a wilderness permit. In order to comply with CDC guidelines and maintain social distancing, all wilderness permits will be issued remotely, by phone and email. Consequently, reservations are required in advance for all wilderness permits in the 2020 season. No walk-up permits will be issued. The Lakes Trail, previously walk-up permits only, is available for reservation with a limited quota.

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 also limited and camping outside of established campgrounds such as trailhead parking lots is not permitted.

Outside the quota season (September 20, 2020 – May 20, 2021), self-issue wilderness permits are available at the nearest permit-issuing station. There is no fee for self-issue permits.

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


Obtaining a wilderness permit during the 2020 quota season:

Step 1: Decide where and when to go

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.

Advanced reservations are required for all wilderness permits during the 2020 quota season; no walk-up permits will be issued. The Lakes Trail is available for reservations. Make sure that there are reservations available on the date that you wish to start your trip by checking the Trailhead Availability page.

Step 2: Apply for a reservation

Submit a Wilderness Permit Application at least 2 weeks in advance of your desired entry date.

First download, and then fill out the Wilderness Permit Application. Attach the completed form (pdf or image file) to an email addressed to seki_wilderness_reservations@nps.gov.

When submitting an application keep the following in mind:

  • Quota limits are solely based off of the entrance point on a given day. Provide alternate start dates and trailheads to increase your chances.

  • Include a daytime phone number to avoid delays.

  • Duplicate applications may result in duplicate, non-refundable charges.

  • Indicate in the body of your e-mail if you wish to reserve more than one trip and be sure to fill out a separate application for each trip.

  • Double check the sent email to ensure the wilderness permit application you submitted was not sent blank. Blank applications often lead to delays in the permitting process

Faxed applications are no longer accepted; e-mail and U.S. mail are the only accepted methods for application.

Applications may be mailed to this address:

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Office #60
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271-9700

Step 3: Pay the recreation fee online

If you are successful in getting a reservation, we will email you a confirmation letter with a link to our pay.gov payment form; reservations will be cancelled if payment is not made within 10 days of the confirmation email being sent. Wilderness permits cost $10 plus $5 per person within the quota season. In the e-mail you will be given a Permit ID number that you will use to pay for your reservation. Do not copy and paste this number, you must type it in with no spaces for it to work. The fee is non-refundable, non-transferable, not for use in future years, and is not for re-sale. Technical issues with the pay.gov website should be directed to the pay.gov helpdesk.

Step 4: Speak with a ranger to obtain your permit by email

Your reservation confirmation letter is not a wilderness permit and cannot be used for overnight travel.

The week before your trip, a ranger will contact you by phone at the number provided on your reservation application. Plan to spend up to 20 minutes to provide your itinerary, verify fee payment, and receive an orientation. During the orientation, rangers will review the parks’ Minimum Impact Requirements, provide updated trail conditions, discuss safety issues, and answer any other questions you may have.

Following the orientation, you will be emailed the completed wilderness permit. Print the permit and carry it with you on your wilderness trip. If you will be travling before your trip and not avaible the week prior please call or email the wilderness office to make arrangements.

Can I make changes to my trip after my application is processed?

Changes to the entry date or trailhead and increases in group size must be made at least two weeks before your entry date. To have a fair process for allocating space that has become available due to cancellations, party size reductions, and not issuing walk up permits we are asking existing reservation holders to submit changes (to dates, party size, or trailhead) by email to seki_wilderness_reservations@nps.gov. Please include your current reservation number and the change that you would like to make. Additional people will incur an additional $5/person fee but can only be increased if quota space is available and must be paid for over the phone ahead of time. Changes to reduce group size can be made at any time with no additional cost. Once processed, fees are not refundable.

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 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. To plan a long distance hike for 500 miles or more that goes through the parks, find more information from the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

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Last updated: September 22, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


(559) 565-3341

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