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Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

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Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:02 pm

What permit station usually have the longest lines, in your personal experience? What was the longest line you have ever waited in (how many people ahead of you), which station, what time of year, and what time did you get to the office?
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:46 pm

Is two people really considered a line? I've never seen a line in Sierra National Forest offices. I usually end up at Clovis office, Prather office or sometimes the night box at the visitor center in Oakhurst.

I usually do walk ins the day before I go. Clovis office is up the street from my office. I'm usually the only person there. When I pick up the permit I reserved, I stop at Prather on the way up the hill and there may or may not be another person in the office when it opens.
Last edited by AlmostThere on Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:05 pm

If going to SEKI -- there are lines, but it seems like most everyone is interested in HST (at Lodgepole) or Rae Lakes (in Roads End) and since alternate destinations share the trailheads with Rae Lakes you lose a lot there. I usually ask for Alta trail, and cross country to things, so I don't get too fussed about not getting that last campsite at Pear Lake, we go to Table Meadow or beyond, or Moose Lake. Or we go through Jennie and have not encountered issues - though it can get pretty crowded at one day out destinations like Ranger or Seville Lake, or Twin Lakes, we don't usually do that either.

Yosemite will always be a total cluster. We do things other people don't and usually just walk in. Usually there are a dozen or more people present and if in the valley or Tuolumne Meadows, the line will be out the door and away. People making coffee in line at 5 am, that sort of thing.

Golden Trout is a free permit. No quotas. Jennie has no permits if you are just staying within that wilderness area not crossing into the park. There are other tiny islands of permit free backpacking to be had if you know where to look.... 20 Lakes Loop I will be surprised if they don't institute a quota at some point...
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby B.Kruger » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:25 am

Permit lines for same-day walk in's are a given for me, since I make a lot of last minute weekend trips via the popular southern Eastside entrances. I usually end up at the Lone Pine or Bishop stations, since I'm coming from Vegas, and am usually only a party of 1, sometimes 2.

Lone Pine has always been a huge line, even if I'm there before it opens. To the point that you're given a number when you arrive and wait for your number to be called out to see a ranger. I've been something like 30th in line with plenty of people behind me. That was maybe the worst I've seen. I've also never gotten a same-day walk-in permit at the 8am release- too many folks in line ahead of me that want the same thing- but have always lucked out with a same day permit at the 11am no-show release. And yes the Golden Trout trails are quota-less, but I usually enter via Horseshoe meadow, meaning the Lone Pine station is the closest place to get a permit, meaning still waiting in that stinking line.

Lines are also a given, but not as crazy, at the Bishop station in my experience. Something like 10-15 people. But same deal there; never an 8am walk-in available for same day entry, but usually an 11am no-show available for same day entry.

Mind you, these are all weekend attempts. I'm sure mid-week is less over-run. I just go with a couple backup options in mind and make the best of it. I'm anticipating more issues this season with so many people rescheduling.
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby Jimr » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:36 am

I normally (almost always) arrive at Lone Pine around noon for my reservation for the next day, so I rarely experience more than a few people in line. The worst line I was ever in was Bishop in 1986 for a walk-up permit. There were about 30 people in line, but I was second. I got there at 4am and slept at the front door, when the doors opened, there was a huge line behind me.
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby dave54 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:41 pm

Odd.

I have never stood in a line to get a permit in over 40 years of outdoor adventures.
I have always obtained what I wanted by walking up with no line, phone, or mail, and more recently online.
If I had to stand line to obtain a permit I am not sure I would want to visit that area. I suppose it is a question of priorities and goals. Solitude is more important to me than stunning vistas or trendy destinations. Many of my most memorable trips have been wandering off trail through multiple use forest.
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby rlown » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:54 pm

dave54 wrote:Odd.

I have never stood in a line to get a permit in over 40 years of outdoor adventures.
I have always obtained what I wanted by walking up with no line, phone, or mail, and more recently online.
If I had to stand line to obtain a permit I am not sure I would want to visit that area. I suppose it is a question of priorities and goals. Solitude is more important to me than stunning vistas or trendy destinations. Many of my most memorable trips have been wandering off trail through multiple use forest.


What he said, but SW of him.. :)
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby Dave_Ayers » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:16 pm

My recollections from my usual locations:
Mono Lake visitor station -- no lines
Mammoth visitor station -- no lines
Prather Ranger station -- no lines
Yosemite Big Oak Flat -- 0-3 groups to wait for. Can be a pain as there is usually only one permitting ranger. Longest wait was about 30 mins when I arrived right at the 11 a.m. opening time.
Yosemite Valley visitor station -- lines but usually multiple rangers permitting. Never waited more than a few mins.
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby astrogerly » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:21 pm

We actually love the Lone Pine station because of the fact that they do the lottery system - and they seem to work quickly (at least every time we've been there over the past 5+ years). We've been second in line at the Bishop station before and it's taken 15+ minutes and we had a reservation... but I guess that was just the particular day we were there maybe? We've seen so much inconsistency at that particular location. At least with Lone Pine, they seem to have a desk dedicated to those with reservations. All things considered, because we spend every weekend in the Sierra, we always have at least 3-4 backup plans and are just happy to spend time in the mountains. The only time we've bothered to make a reservation was when I had to get 12 for our wedding at Muriel last August.
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Re: Sierra Wilderness Permit Lines

Postby B.Kruger » Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:21 pm

astrogerly wrote:We actually love the Lone Pine station because of the fact that they do the lottery system - and they seem to work quickly (at least every time we've been there over the past 5+ years).


Good points. I'm probably a bit quick to judge since it seems like I'm usually on the losing side of the lottery. :)
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