I received this question, thought I'd post an answer publicly.
Hi Steve, I have a question about unclaimed Whitney permits. What is the current process? It's been a few years but I recall if the deadline passes, unclaimed permits are released to the public. Is that still the case?
Hi, All permits have been handled completely online since COVID. Those that are not confirmed, or when a permit is picked up, and there are fewer hikers than on the original reservation, the unused slots are made available online. The only hitch is that they become available online at a random time over the next 24 hours. So permits should show up on Recreation.gov every so often. What you need to do is keep checking regularly, especially in the few days or several weeks before the date you want to hike. Permits will show up, and then will disappear, as they are scooped up by others who are also looking for them.
The lottery should open on February 1, and remain open all month. (no advantage being early) Then the permit lottery is run early in March, with emails sent out mid-March for those winning a slot (or not). Permit winners have until April 21 to pay the $15 per hiker fee to complete their reservations. On April 22, any not paid for become available at 7 AM (Pacific Time)
After May 1, the official hiking season begins, and those with reserved permits then confirm (or check-in) on their permit, and download a printed permit. Any that are not confirmed become available in that random 24 hour period. Unfortunately, for day hikes, that doesn't give people a reasonable time to grab the permit and get ready to go.
I haven't kept up on the latest info, and the above is written from past experiences. But we can find out more as the hiking season approaches.
Good luck to all, in the lottery.
Here's the link to Recreation.gov
, to make a lottery application.
For general lottery questions, please view and post in the Mt Whitney Lottery 2023