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Inyo National Forest

With over two million acres, the Inyo National Forest is home to many natural wonders, including Mt. Whitney, Mono Lake, Mammoth Lakes Basin, and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, as well as seven Congressionally-designated Wilderness areas.

Located in California's beautiful Eastern Sierra, the Inyo National Forest offers clean air, crystal blue skies, mountain lakes and streams, challenging trails, high mountain peaks, and beautiful views.

The name "Inyo" comes from a Native American word meaning "dwelling place of the great spirit." It was used by local Native Americans to describe the local mountains, now known as the White/Inyo Range, to early settlers of the area.

The Inyo National Forest is divided into the North and South zone, with two Ranger Districts in each. This link will take you to a description of each location.

The seven Wilderness areas span over 650,000 acres of land. The John Muir Wilderness encompasses a 100-mile stretch of typical Sierra Nevada peaks and valleys, including the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney (14,496 feet). It is one of the most heavily visited wildernesses in the nation.

The Inyo National Forest is home to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to the oldest living trees in the world. Some of our bristlecone pines are nearly 5,000 years old and still living. The Forest is located to the east of Bishop and Big Pine in the White Mountains, close to the California/Nevada border. Click here for details.

Recreational opportunities include camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, backpacking, equestrian use, and off-highway vehicle use. Private outfitters and guides and pack stations are available throughout the forest for excursions. An online directory of lodges, resorts, and services is available.

Two ski resorts offer alpine skiing and snowboarding; over 100 miles of trails groomed for multiple purpose winter use (snowmobile, skiing, and hiking), and approximately 45 miles of trails groomed for cross-country skiing. In addition to snow sports, Mammoth Mountain is also home to some of the country's best mountain biking.

First-timer’s Adventure

Take a beginner mountaineering course through the Sierra Mountain Center.

Statistics

State(s):

California

Nearest Large Urban Area(s):

Fresno, Reno

Notes & Conditions:

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Permits, Passes and Fees:

Wilderness permits are required on the Mt. Whitney trail year-round. All overnight backpackers and day hikers must obtain a permit before starting their hike. Day hikers do not need a permit to hike to Lone Pine Lake, which is located approximately 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead. However, all day use visitors who hike beyond Lone Pine Lake will enter the Whitney Zone and must have a day use permit.

From May 1 to November 1 there is a daily quota limiting the number of people allowed on the trail; 60 overnight backpackers and 100 day hikers. During this quota season, you can apply for a permit by entering the Mt. Whitney Lottery.

Maps:

Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.