Apply to the 2021 Mt. Whitney Lottery between February 1 and March 15
Are you ready to tackle the highest point in the lower 48 states? Mt. Whitney lottery application opened today on recreation.gov. With over 6,700 feet of elevation gain on the trail, Mt. Whitney stands at 14,505 feet and is the highest point in the lower 48 states. This is one of those iconic hike locations in the Sierra that draws crowds from around the world, and is such an inspiring location the lucky few that have been on this route many times, actually are starting to complain about the new found visitors that now seem to show up each year.
However that being said the lottery system is the best possible solution to allow the max number of visitors each season. (Although in complete honesty i do believe it is time for the Forest service and wilderness protection groups to put forth a bill that allows more locals access with out going through lotteries).
First Step Lottery Application
The Mt. Whitney trail and Inyo County are included in the Southern California zone “Stay at Home Orders”. While outdoor recreation is allowed for groups from the same household, local services like campgrounds and lodging are affected.
Are you prepared for Mt. Whitney? The Inyo County Forest Service have provided these resources for review.
- View our Leave No Trace (video)
- Plan for Safety: Hiking the Mt. Whitney Trail Brochure
- Emergency Planning
- Leader Responsibility & Permit Policy
- Expect ice and snow on the trail until the beginning of July, link: Weather
- For any route other than the Mt. Whitney Trail, review what permit is required
Submit only one application to the lottery. You may request up to 15 alternate dates on your application. Groups or households that submit multiple applications will be rejected. If you want more than one trip this year, additional reservations can be made after the lottery. Unclaimed dates will be canceled and released for web reservations on May 1.
- Reservations are only valid for the stated entry date and permit type. No rain checks. No rescheduling.
- Groups larger than 15 people are prohibited.
- If you win your date in the lottery you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee before midnight Eastern Time April 30 or your win will be revoked.
- Reservations cannot be resold or transferred.
- Alternate leaders cannot be added or changed later.
- Only the leader or alternate named on lottery application can pick up or use the permit.
Trips sponsored by organizations or commercial groups must contact the Inyo National Forest wilderness permit office before applying for a Mt. Whitney permit.
In the event of a lapse in federal government funding the Recreation.gov website may freeze. If the website is down during the Mt. Whitney Lottery the application period will not be extended.
3 Things You Need to Know Before Entering the Lottery
- Submit only one application to the lottery or you may be rejected.
- If you win the lottery you must pay the $15 per person reservation fee in April to claim your awarded date.
- Check all your dates and group size choices on your application before checking out the cart. To correct a mistake you may need to withdraw the application and reapply. There are no credits or refunds if you reapply.
How Does the Quota Work for this Permit?
Quotas for Mt Whitney are based on the number of people starting on the trail each day. Day use and overnight permits have separate quota.
- Day use permit is valid for one day (midnight to midnight)
- Overnight permit can extend for multiple nights
Quota for Mt Whitney is in effect from May 1 through November 1
- 100 people per entry day for Mt Whitney Zone Day Use permits
- 60 people per entry day for Mt Whitney Trail Overnight permits
- Overnight trips that start on other trails are limited by different quotas
- No age limit; children count in group size limits and quotas
Quotas limit the total number of people in the area; group size limits ensure people spread out to prevent impacts from larger groups.
- Maximum group size of 15 people
- Group size limits apply year round, including day use
- Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have smaller group size limits in some areas
- Groups on separate permits cannot combine if they will exceed the group size limit
After the Lottery
On March 24 you can log on to see if your application was successful. Before you Accept a date decide how many people you want. If you accept a smaller group size the space given up cannot be restored. Once you accept and pay there are no refunds.
April 30 is the Deadline to claim the date awarded. Log into your account on recreation.gov and open the link to your lottery application.
Decline: If you’re not interested in using the awarded permit you should decline. Dates cannot be transferred, rescheduled, traded, or sold. You cannot change the date, leader, or permit type. Only the awarded choice can be claimed.
Accept: Only accept a permit you want to use.
To accept you will need to complete trip information and use the shopping cart to pay the $15 per person reservation fee. Fees are final after checking out the cart. No Refunds.
- Verify date, permit type, and group size are what you want.
- Itinerary: Overnight trips you must select your Exit Date and Exit Trail. John Muir Trail hikers, select your exit location to indicate the section you are hiking. You can reopen the reservation later (after April 30) to revise and fill in your full itinerary.
- Group size: You may reduce your group size and only pay for the number of people you choose to accept, however space cannot be restored unless space becomes available later.
- To complete the acceptance, check out the shopping cart.
Pay by checking out the cart before midnight Eastern Time on April 30, or the reservation will be canceled.