Backcountry Permits

I thought it would be useful for myself, and for others, to document how to get backcountry/wilderness permits for the various parks and forests we've gone to. Some areas make it extremely easy and provide online booking, some require you to phone the ranger's station, and others require you to show up in person within 24 hours of your trip. Some places are free, some seasons are free, others cost a nominal fee.

Desolation Wilderness

Permits are required year round. You can get permits here.

Permits can either be printed out, or picked up at an issuing station.

Emigrant Wilderness / Stanislaus National Forest

Here's a list of the ranger stations that issue permits for this area. You have to phone them within 24 hours of your trip dates to get a permit. You can pick up your permit at the station that issued yours over the phone. They usually open around 8am, and have a mailbox for picking up permits if they are closed. Here they are on a map.

On our Kibbie Lake Trip, we got our permit from the Groveland Ranger Station, even though technically, Kibbie Lake is in Yosemite National Park.

Permits are not required during the winter (November 30 through April 1).

More information here

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

The USDA website is a little confusing. It only mentions the application for permits. For our Peeler and Snow Lakes trip I was able to go to the Bridgeport Ranger District office and get a free wilderness permit. No mention of quotas.

More (confusing) information here

Mojave National Preserve

No permits required! Just make sure you camp at an area that has already been camped at (no creation of new camp sites).

Sequoia National Park

We self registered near the Giant Forest Museum, which was 15 minutes before the trailhead. This was for our Pear Lake trip.

Permit information


We self registered at the Bunny Flat Trailhead. There is also a fee of $25 per person if you plan on going above 10,000 feet.

Permit information

Trinity Alps

When we went on the Canyon Creek trip, we self registered at the Weaverville Ranger Station. Group limit is 10 people. You can register 24/7 (just filling out a form and putting half of it in a drop box. Address is 360 Main St, Weaverville, CA.

Permit information


The hardest/riskiest park to get permits. You either have to reserve 168 days in advance, or try to get a permit a day before (in person).

Permit information

Published by KP