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Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:56 am
by bobby49
I think for many of us it is not practical to depend on walk-up wilderness permits for many of the standard quota trails, so I nearly always try to reserve them months in advance so that I have a firm schedule.

First, I went to recreation.gov and tried to book something for New Army Pass. I was looking for one way to get to the west side of Mount Whitney. That site kept telling me that only walk-up permits were available. I tried that a few times, and then I inquired to the web site. I got a response that for New Army Pass, I needed to speak with Inyo directly. So, I called them directly.

Inyo said that virtually all of the good trails get reserved up a full six months in advance, not four or five. Hmmm.

So, I went back to recreation.gov and tried a broader approach. I looked to see which trails were still reservable for my schedule time. One of the few trails left was Shepherd Pass, which is kind of a butt-kicker, but it is the way that I went last year. So I booked that one. Nobody has ever claimed that Shepherd Pass was good.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:44 pm
by rlown
If I have a group larger than 3, I reserve and put the best time to reserve date on my calendar. I still have mine for Piute pass at the end of June. If that looks dicey, I'll put in for mid September.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:58 pm
by MountainMinstrel
The problem with the trailheads around (mostly south of) Whitney is that they are the go-to ways for JMT'rs to get NOBO permits. Also, people use them for a backdoor to Whitney, as was your purpose. I think we just need to adjust our thinking on these permits from now on. We are going to have to get more creative in getting to areas that we want to go to.


Sadly I think that they will need to do things like put a limit on the numbers doing Whitney from the west as, I am sure, a vast number of the people taking up the permits from Cottonwood/Horseshoe Meadows THs.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:28 am
by rightstar76
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Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:40 am
by Jimr
If you can add a day to your trip, you can always get in via Trail Pass. It's only 11 miles South of New Army Pass. There are no quotas on that TH.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:23 am
by bobby49
From Horseshoe Meadow, Trail Pass goes south, not toward Mount Whitney and not toward the JMT.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:27 am
by Jimr
It intersects the PCT right at the top. Make a right, walk 11 miles and you're at NAP.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:04 pm
by bobby49
It is possible to go from Trail Pass to Cottonwood Pass and then continue north, but that takes you to the western bottom of New Army Pass near Soldier Lake and not to New Army Pass.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:50 pm
by Jimr
I guess it all depends on how you want to get to the Western side of Whitney. If you want to do it on trail, then from NAP, your going down to Lower Soldier lake anyway and doing it via the PCT. If you don't mind some easy peasy cross country, you can head off trail after passing chickenfoot lake and walk cross country on high elevation desert. Pretty easy cross country. There's a great route that stays high about the PCT from there. It all depends on what you have in mind. Trail Pass is just an alternative when you're running out of alternatives.

I'd suggest Old Army Pass, but in a high snow year, it becomes iffy whether or not you can make it. The top can be pretty gnarly with a lot of rotten snow. I did it in July 2011, but I camped at the upper Cottonwood lakes and day hiked up the pass stomping foot tracks with heavy boots as I went so we could follow them with packs in the morning.

Re: Inyo N F wilderness permit reservations

Posted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:04 pm
by John Harper
I reserved my permits on January 1 for entry on July 1. Living down in Carlsbad is a long ass drive to get shut out of a walk up permit. Plus, I know I've got a spot well in advance.

John