Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:14 pm

I really dread this if they go through with it for the entire Inyo Forest. What a pain if we could not actually walk into a ranger station and pick up a permit for an trailhead where the quota were not filled. And on top of the reservation fee you will have to pay the vendor (likely Reserve America) fee. I wonder if Inyo will have a public hearing about this before they go whole-hog to this system.

Whitney Portal trailhead is a LOT more than just for those who do the trail route up Whitney. I have used it for many trips where I had no interest in Whitney at all; it was just a nice entry into areas like Wallace Lakes, Crabtree Lakes, or Keweah Basin. I have also used it for exits for trips from Onion Valley.








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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by grampy » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:04 am

the vendor operating the Recreation.gov site is now Booz Allen Hamilton - who took over contract in 2018 from Aspira - parent company of Reserve America. Articles on this can be found here:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sfchro ... 655884.php

and here:

https://www.outsideonline.com/2330471/c ... ccess-land

The second article talks about private companies (esp. “Hipcamp” - a campsite-booking app) having won the right to access public campsite-availability data.

... sorry, this is more about reserving sites in campgrounds than about wilderness permits, but the same principles seem to apply.
Last edited by grampy on Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:32 pm

I do not see an advantage for the backpacker. The advantage seems to be for Inyo. To me it boils down to 100% reserve required. The only difference is whether you reserve months in advance or for the next day. I personally would rather wait in line at a ranger station. At least that way if my first choice is not available, I can look at others. I also am not keen on the idea that if I drive down to the trailhead, I will be competing with those at home sitting at their larger computers and who may just have faster fingers than me! Then where would I be? Sitting in cell-phone purgatory, day after day, competing with many more than I would if everyone had to stand in line. May be time to perfect the art of stealth backpacking.

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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by rightstar76 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:18 am

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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:28 am

Unless you have driven to the trailhead/ranger station, you have no "skin in the game". I would bet that many who scored a permit at home would just decide not to go and never pick up the permit. You now have a revolving door of permits, reservations ($), no-shows. Again, bad for backpacker, good for who collect the fees.

The problem is too many people want to access a few very popular trailheads. To disperse the use, it is better to ADD to the quotas at less popular trailheads, and then make those permits easier (and free) to get. Rather than put all trailheads under this ridiculous method, just put those popular trailheads, for which it may be useful, on this system.

Pretty easy to go without a permit if you do not park your car at the trailhead. In 20 years, I can count on one hand the number of rangers I have met who asked me for my permit. I believe in the permit/quota concept, but if it stops me from backpacking, I will take the chance on going without. Or do devious things like get a PCT permit so I can use it in the Sierra only.

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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by grampy » Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:57 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:28 am
... many who scored a permit at home would just decide not to go and never pick up the permit ...
I was (unwittingly) guilty of this last August, at the height of the fires (and smoke). I drove to Lone Pine, showed my permit reservation to the desk ranger, and requested a change to another trailhead; she issued me a permit for N. Fork Big Pine Creek. What I DIDN’T know was that she didn’t cancel my Mono Pass slot in the computerized system; I had a permit “no show” e-mail (from Rec.gov) waiting for me when I got back. Two points I want to make:
1. If other HST members find themselves in a similar circumstance, please make a point of logging in to Recreation.gov to make sure your “unwanted” slot is actually cancelled.
2. Maybe Inyo NF should institute some kind of penalty for a no show on a user’s reservation (btw, Salmon River and Snake River rafting reservations have a 1-3 YEAR lock-out rule to penalize permit no-shows). I’m not suggesting something THAT severe, but at least have something more painful than just forfeiting your reservation & use fees.

I like being able to reserve (I have lots of family obligations, so my wife likes knowing my plans). But I also think folks should also have “walk up” trips as more than just a token option.

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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by rlown » Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:03 pm

Thanks for the reminder. I just cancelled my Piute pass reservation for the last week in June and got a $15 refund.
Lake conditions up there won't be conducive to fishing.

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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:57 pm

I just read on the Yosemite web page that they now are trying this same method for Camp 4. It has always been a "first-come" campground. Now you have to pay the toll to Reserve America to even get in there. About doubled the camp fee. Depressing.

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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by SirBC » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:52 pm

grampy wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:57 pm
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:28 am
... many who scored a permit at home would just decide not to go and never pick up the permit ...
I was (unwittingly) guilty of this last August, at the height of the fires (and smoke). I drove to Lone Pine, showed my permit reservation to the desk ranger, and requested a change to another trailhead; she issued me a permit for N. Fork Big Pine Creek. What I DIDN’T know was that she didn’t cancel my Mono Pass slot in the computerized system; I had a permit “no show” e-mail (from Rec.gov) waiting for me when I got back. Two points I want to make:
1. If other HST members find themselves in a similar circumstance, please make a point of logging in to Recreation.gov to make sure your “unwanted” slot is actually cancelled.
2. Maybe Inyo NF should institute some kind of penalty for a no show on a user’s reservation (btw, Salmon River and Snake River rafting reservations have a 1-3 YEAR lock-out rule to penalize permit no-shows). I’m not suggesting something THAT severe, but at least have something more painful than just forfeiting your reservation & use fees.

I like being able to reserve (I have lots of family obligations, so my wife likes knowing my plans). But I also think folks should also have “walk up” trips as more than just a token option.
Huh, I had a different experience when I did something similar in Mammoth. I decided I wanted to go in a day earlier than my permit (on a different trailhead) so I went to grab a walk-up permit starting a day before my reserved permit. My plan was to make sure I could get the walk-up permit and then cancel my existing permit. However, when I gave the dates I wanted and the ranger went to print the permit she said that she couldn't issue it because I already had an existing permit (that I hadn't yet mentioned to her). She said I had to cancel that one first before she could issue the new permit, which she did for me. I have to admit that I didn't confirm that it also showed as canceled on Recreation.gov, so maybe it wasn't actually released back to the pool there?
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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Post by rightstar76 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:14 pm

If INF and now YOSE for Camp 4 think that a computer only reservation system is going to eliminate crowds, they are completely out of touch with reality. People will come anyway. Also, as some people have mentioned, you can cancel your permit online and it doesn't always show up on the ranger's computer. So while the corporations running the reservation websites are making lots of money, hikers are spinning their wheels making more reservations and paying more money! There needs to be a better and fairer way to do this.

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