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Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
#58664 05/14/21 10:13 AM
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Steve C Offline OP
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Permits for all Inyo National Forest trailheads must be reserved online through Recreation.gov. They must be "picked up" and printed by you following the process below. NOTE that Inyo staff works 8-5, so if you reserve a permit after hours, you won't be able to make contact to get the email from them with your permit, until the next morning!

Links to the Recreation.gov website:
  For Mt Whitney Main Trail:   https://www.recreation.gov/permits/233260   No-shows and cancellations are showing up regularly.
  For all other Inyo N.F. trailheads:   https://www.recreation.gov/permits/233262/registration/detailed-availability

Updated link to pickup instructions: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5356869

The Interagency Visitor Center just south of Lone Pine is now open, and they are the best location to pick up your permit in person.

Telephone pickup method is better than the email method below:
    Call the Wilderness Permit Office: 760-873-2483   then press 0, then let it ring and ring until someone picks up. If it disconnects, repeat the process. The number should be working 8-5 daily.

Email pickup method -- the least preferred method:
    To pick up your permit for any Inyo National Forest trailhead:

Send an email to: SM.FS.WildPmt_Inyo@usda.gov

Subject should have: Hike start date, Trailhead (example: May 14, 2021, Mt Whitney Main Trail)

Email body should include:
  the reservation number
  the group size
  For Mt Whitney, you should state that you have viewed the "Mt Whitney Leave No Trace Video"
  Say how you will store your food.
  Your name

A note on confirming and picking up your printed permit:   You can do this as far as two weeks before your trip.  Two weeks works if you are 100% certain you (and all in your group) are going.  However, we all know stuff happens, so why not wait until just several days before your trip to pick up/print your permit.  Please cancel or release slots if people drop out of your group so others wanting to go can reserve the slot.

Last edited by Steve C; 07/24/21 07:14 PM.
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Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Steve C #58672 05/14/21 04:00 PM
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Inyo has a new link for the New link to pickup instructions:
  https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5356869

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Steve C #58673 05/14/21 04:32 PM
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This angers me!!!!!

Why even open the Visitor's Center if you can't pick up a walk-in permit. So there are no walk-in permits. This sounds just like last year, but they're open. Did they throw away their printers?

So, I still can't drive up and pick up a permit for Trail Pass, a non-quota pass, or for that matter other walk=in permits like Kearsarge Pass. Still more hoops to jump through. I still have to call for Trail Pass and I still have to wait, and wait, await for someone to answer.

There was a whole thread on this a few months ago and I was hoping for comment sense to prevail.

Steve, am I wrong on this?

I miss the days when I could decided one day, make it to the Visitor's Center the same day before it closes and get my permit.

Is it a money thing since going through Rec.Gov costs?

Someone enlighten me.

Paul

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Paul #58675 05/14/21 09:07 PM
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Paul, I think it's just that everything is in flux -- Covid shutdowns, Rec.gov becoming more and more in use... I am sure we will see a bunch more changes in the next couple of years.

Actually for me, it was way more convenient to grab the online reservation last week on a Monday morning. I then sent off the email, and INyo staff sent me the permit half an hour later. I printed it, signed it, and started packing. It really saved me that I didn't need to time everything in Lone Pine around going to the Visitor Center to get the permit. Two years ago, I was really angry that SEKI required Inyo to see me face-to-face to pick up my permit. Caused me over two hours delay getting started on a long backpack trip, because I slept at Horseshoe Meadows, then had to drive down, get the permit, then back up to the trail head. So for me, the new way is a big improvement.

Inyo staff tell me that the no-shows are coming online soon after they are declared no-shows, so those should be working pretty well this year.

I'd rather sit at home and call and wait, to get a permit, instead of needing to drive to that one location and stand in line, all the time not knowing whether there were enough no-show slots to go around. I hope you can adjust to their new processes.

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Steve C #58677 05/15/21 10:13 AM
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That was the beauty of Trail Pass......non-quota. Always available.

I could drive up and never have to worry about not getting a permit.

Another year of uncertainty.

Paul

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Paul #58678 05/15/21 01:32 PM
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Paul:

The Visitor Center is open so that people can use the bathroom, read the signs, look at the displays, and get information, sometimes critical information, from the rangers. The people visiting the forest haven’t all been doing this for decades like you and Steve and me.

Online reservations are critical for quota trailheads. As I’ve posted many times before, it’s really stupid to pack your gear, maybe take a day off from work, drive several hundred miles, and then stand in line for a permit that may not be available.

If you want a non-quota permit, you can book one online, and they are always available, with no uncertainty. If you insist on calling the numbers that you know they don’t answer, rather than sending an email to verify your permit, you will continue to be frustrated. Sending the email has always worked for me, and I always have my permit in my possession when I leave the house. I don’t need to be at a USFS office at a particular time, and I don’t have to worry about traffic, an accident, construction, or a flakey partner causing me to miss my permit.

I don’t know when, if ever, they will resume issuing permits in person. I certainly don’t object if they choose to do so. But I will always choose online if I can. It’s just more efficient for me and for the USFS.

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
bobpickering #58679 05/15/21 06:04 PM
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Bob, last year, Trail Pass was a non-quota pass, however, every time I tried to make a reservation, like you said, I couldn't the system wouldn't allow for it.

As for Kearsarge Pass, 60 permits per day are issued of which 36 are reservable and 24 walkins. You couldn't get a walkin without spending hours on the phone.

Sorry, I don't like the current system.

As for online are critical for quota passes? When I do a walkin, I am issued a permit and one less permit is taken from the walkin totals for that day. So walkins are recorded and when the number is reached, no more permits are issued. Many times I have asked for a walkin for Keasrage Pass and was told, the quota, both reservable and walkins were filled.

Paul

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Paul #58680 05/15/21 09:46 PM
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Kearsarge Pass currently has permits available, 5/16 through 5/26. And they are all exiting Mt Whitney. I think future dates will open as the walk-ins are made available online.


They should set the non-quota trails with a quota of 1000, and then you could register online.

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Paul #58681 05/16/21 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by bobpickering
As I’ve posted many times before, it’s really stupid to (have to) pack your gear, maybe take a day off from work, drive several hundred miles, and then stand in line for a permit that may not be available.
Originally Posted by Paul
Many times I have asked for a walkin for Keasrage Pass and was told, the quota, both reservable and walkins were filled.
We seem to be on the same page.

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
bobpickering #58683 05/16/21 09:42 AM
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Interesting bits of history on all this:

Booz Allen Hamilton (a $7 Billion company) is doing okay: No, Rec.gov Doesn't Fund Public Lands

The government's view: The Recreation One Stop (R1S) interagency partnership

And somewhat off-topic, but
Is backcountry "gate-keeping" racist? : 5 Reasons Why You Should Keep Geotagging

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Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Rico Borchia #58686 05/16/21 01:51 PM
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Steve...... Right now, there are permits for Kearsarge Pass. On Saturday, there were now. You can not plan ahead because they release permits when they do. Right now, if I want to reserve a permit for July 12 (just a random date), the system has a big "W" all the way into September. Where is the scheduling a permit 6 months in advance?

As for Trail Pass.... the whole date range, the system has a "0" in the date column into September. So, I need to call, correct. And I need to call if I want a permit for Keasarge Pass in July? When you place your cursor on the "0", you get a '0" with a red line. There is no drop down box or pop-up window that tells the individual how to obtain a permit for this pass, which is a non-quota pass. I would think a simple enhancement would help. The same applies toe Kearsarge Pass with the "W." Provide a opo-up window telling the individual what to do.

I am not upset with you guys. I respect you, both. The system is not online if you have to call. It's not simple if you can't make reservations a month or two in advance.

Plus, a walkin is free, online is not.

Paul

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Paul #58687 05/16/21 03:19 PM
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In 2020, the 40% of permits designated as walk-up became available for online reservations 14 days in advance. Despite the “W” on recreation.gov, there were no walk-up permits. I think that is still true for 2021. That means that your hypothetical July 12 permit should become available on June 28. Anyone can log in and reserve one. You can send the email to confirm your permit, and you’re on your way, without ever having to make a phone call or go to a permit station.

There are still bugs, especially problems with non-quota trailheads. I went through weeks of emails and phone tag to get a permit for a non-quota trailhead in Humboldt-Toiyabe last year. But recreation.gov is a huge improvement over the patchwork of phone/fax/snail mail hoops that we used to have to jump through. And it’ll get better. In the meantime, you can still dayhike anywhere you like (except for the Whitney Zone) without bothering with a permit.

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Paul #58696 05/17/21 02:28 PM
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The scheduling six months in advance for your random 7/12 date happened back on January 12 (ie 6 months prior to that date)... Kearsarge pass permits are just selling out pretty much immediately due to interest in Whitney as a multi day, JMT from other starting points, and Rae Lakes Loop from the East Side - not to mention any/all other trips originating there.

As others mentioned the 'walk up' is now 2 weeks ahead on the Monday reservable rather than day before walk in (and will likely go more or less immediately for the popular trailheads especially on weekends due to hugely increased demand). Actually it looks like this year they are doing a 2 week daily rolling release of the 'walk up' permits that are now short term reservable (top of this page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5356869) compared to the Monday releases they did last year. I REALLY LIKE THIS - as the Monday release thingie was tough to remember last year.


I do agree with you thought, that the non quota trailheads/permits need some work to be obtainable online.

=)Tif

Last edited by tif; 05/17/21 02:29 PM.
Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
tif #58698 05/17/21 03:38 PM
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Bob, can you give me some advise in obtaining a permit for Trail Pass? Any advice would be appreciated... I am too old to try and adapt (Just kidding.)

paul

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Paul #58703 05/18/21 06:57 AM
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Paul, I would confirm what recreation.gov says for Trail Pass, and then contact Inyo National Forest HERE.

Last edited by bobpickering; 05/18/21 06:58 AM.
Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
tif #58704 05/18/21 10:35 AM
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I thought the system had completely broken down, but maybe not entirely.

In addition to all the other problems described here, just "picking up" an already reserved permit can be difficult. I was struggling to get my permit (for 5/24). After seeing the Content Could Not Be Loaded error, I tried the email business described on the new Permit Pickup Instructions page at fs.usda.gov, but my emails of 3 & 4 days ago to SM.FS.WildPmt_Inyo@usda.gov went unanswered, despite the promise of a 2-day turnaround.

No one answered the phone at the Eastern Sierra Visitors Center after many tries (and the 790 number is a typo; the 2nd number should also be a 760 number).

BUT on the 6th try this a.m., my gal Cindy G. on the Wilderness Permit help line answered, found one of my emails, & sent me my permit.

The takeaway: They are not holding to the 2-day email turnaround, but are working through the emails as fast as they can. The early season this year and the holiday weekend coming up have increased the load. Just this morning they added some people to their phone line crews, to handle emails, etc. They're also trying to ramp up with new staff to get the visitor center reopenings underway. Cindy didn't want to say not to try the Visitor Center numbers, because even if they're not answering today, they should be doing so consistently soon (perhaps in a week or three), so hang in there, I guess.

She also said they like the open-ended, How will you store your food? question (even though it's arguably inappropriate for day hike permits) because the answers often indicate that people need some basic instruction in handling food in bear territory (shocking, I know).

Originally Posted by tif
...it looks like this year they are doing a 2 week daily rolling release of the 'walk up' permits that are now short term reservable (top of this page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5356869) compared to the Monday releases they did last year....

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
Steve C #58716 05/22/21 01:18 PM
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I just “picked up” my June 5 Whitney day permit. I sent an email, as Steve described. They sent my permit thirteen minutes later. No phone calls, answered or otherwise. No waiting in line. No hassle at all.

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
bobpickering #58735 05/25/21 12:03 PM
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Same here - received May 24 permit within minutes of emailing to "check in". Situation is much improved to earlier this year.

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
danishclimber #58753 05/26/21 07:53 AM
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6 min to receive my MDW permits!

Re: Permit Pickup - Inyo National Forest
zoe #58758 05/26/21 12:53 PM
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I sent an email a week ago and got no response, sent a follow up a couple days ago and no response. Then I tried calling the line a million times and never got a person.

Thanks for that hint to try the Wilderness line though -- that did it -- then I got my permit!

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