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How To Access Lottery Site For Mt. Whitney Use Permits
mt whitney
Hikers mill around the summit building with the Sierra to the north visible on the horizon. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

If you want to hike Mt. Whitney you will need a permit.

And to get a permit you will need to enter a lottery.

Applications for the lottery are accepted between Feb. 1 and March 1 on the website at Lottery results from a random draw are posted March 15.

The lottery permits are for when trail quotas are in effect between May 1 and Nov. 1. Permits for other times of the year can be booked online up to two weeks in advance.

It costs $6 to apply. In April you just pay $15 per person to actually secure the permits.

You can submit only one application but it can contain up to 15 alternate dates. Reservations cannot be sold or transferred. Groups of 15 or more are not allowed.

There are 100 day use permits issued for a specific date within the Whitney Zone. There are 60 overnight permits issued for each date. The camping area at Whitney Portal is not within the Whitney Zone.

Apply early; by Feb. 15 of this year, they had received 7,533 applications requesting space for 37,030 people. Only 18,000 permits are issued.

The trail is not usually clear of snow until July.

To increase your odds of securing a date it is best to avoid weekends. As for months the most popular are July and August.

If there is snow on the trail — such as there will most assuredly be in May and probably June — with the right equipment such as crampons etc. the trail is still doable. However, keep in mind that hiking in snow can slow you down making a day attack on the summit a bit of a challenge.

Typically, it takes most people 12 to 18 hours to tackle the 21.7 mile trail as a day hike.

From personal experience, I’ve always obtained one of my three top dates as I only request Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays in mid-July to mid-August.

Each time I’ve hiked Whitney I’ve seen rangers turn back people without permits. They do check permits on the trail and you do have to have them visible.

Before you try and game the system remember it’s a long trip to Whitney Portal.