Frontier Adventure

How to Get a Yosemite or High Sierra Wilderness Permit

By Michael Lanza

Ah, the High Sierra. Yosemite. Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The John Muir Wilderness and Ansel Adams Wilderness. The John Muir Trail (lead photo, above) and Pacific Crest Trail. Mount Whitney. Every backpacker who has ever walked for days through any of these wildlands holds them in special reverence—and for good reasons, given this seemingly infinite landscape’s constellations of sharply pointed granite peaks and alpine lakes, too many waterfalls to name, and rivers and creeks so pretty they make your heart glad. Plus, with thousands of miles of trails, you could spend a lifetime wandering here without seeing it all.

Little wonder there’s so much competition for backcountry permits throughout most of the High Sierra. But read on because the time for planning and reserving a permit for trips this summer is coming up fast.

In this story, I will detail the procedure for reserving a wilderness permit to backpack in Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon national parks, at Mount Whitney, and in the Inyo National Forest, including the John Muir, Ansel Adams, Golden Trout, and Hoover wildernesses, which all require a permit, plus trailheads for a John Muir Trail or Pacific Crest Trail section hike.

I will also offer tips on how to maximize your chances of getting a highly coveted permit, sharing expertise I’ve acquired from numerous trips throughout the High Sierra over more than three decades, including the 10 years I spent as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker hiking Indian Ridge, overlooking Half Dome, in Yosemite National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Jeff Wilhelm backpacking Indian Ridge, overlooking Half Dome, in Yosemite National Park.
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