Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

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freestone
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by freestone » Tue Feb 16, 2021 10:14 am

grampy wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 11:16 pm
michaelzim wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:13 am
This morning before 7:00 am I decided to do a trial run of rec.gov ... familiarity with what happens when one clicks "refresh" to update the page - as it kicks you out of your Group Size? and Commercial Trip (or not)? entries. You have to repeat input those before it displays the new numbers. So yes, precious seconds that are lost doing that! ...
Here is how I avoid that problem:
Do the usual steps: Log in, then enter the permit type, desired date, party size, commercial trip = no. Then, go to the “filters” window. I do a search to get the one trailhead I want, OR I choose a couple of zones like “John Muir” and “Golden Trout” Wilderness in my filter setting.
Then (this is the important part) make sure you are still on the “filters” page right up until 7:00:01 THEN hit the “show results” button so it returns the availability page; if it isn’t refreshed yet, quickly go back to “filters”, then “show results” ... repeat this until the availability page is showing updated results. That way, it won’t “lose” your other settings while you are refreshing.
I hope that helps !
Using the filter was very helpful, thank you for that suggestion. Got a Bishop Pass ticket for July 28.


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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by michaelzim » Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:46 am

In advance - I apologize for such long posts. However, this issue is not a simple one and explaining stuff in short sound bytes is not my specialty. Indeed I have much more I could add to this long tome, as have more I could say on: Fees, NFS staffing costs, Bots, etc. That will have to wait.....Herewith my third update from discussions with the Inyo supe! *[Now I have to make sure Sierra NF hears them!]

- Firstly more on the rec.gov software aspect:
Apparently it is flexible enough to cater to individual ranger district variance!
There is the ‘public’ interface and the ‘internal’ interface. I guess the public one is what we see booking permits, getting email reminders and so forth. The internal interface is what the NFS staffer at the desk sees and can vary from ranger district to ranger district depending on how they have chosen their ‘internal’ parameters. Such as: what their “W” walk in timeline is going to be!
So yes, Sierra National Forest CAN decide to do a different time period for “W” walk in permits than Inyo. It does not have to be identical. Some of the reasons for Inyo’s “W” decisions were based on the physical setup of the buildings and how well they could fit within Covid guidelines. I get the impression the sheer numbers of people waiting for walk in permits over there in mid summer can be huge. So logistical issues came into play.
As Phil mentioned, Humbolt-Toiyabe issued Hoover permits as walk ins during 2020. They did not follow the Inyo model.
Sierra NF can choose to do whatever they like with this! SO YES we can influence that before it gets set up and entrenched! It is very important that we give them feedback on this.

- Like much of the public (but not me!) the NF staff like the 2 week window for “W” walk permits as it gives them a chance to do phone or email communications with the public and permit holders.
Apparently there can be quite a lot of back and forth involved and trying to get it all done at the last minute can be a hassle or impossible. Both parties can be busy, out of contact, unable to complete changes in time, etc. when it is all within a few days or 24 hours before a permit expires.
Now, being more used to Prather where it is nowhere near as crazy busy as the east side at Bishop (though the permit pickup box at Prather was staggeringly full when I got my permit in mid August 2020!) it may be harder to appreciate just how overloaded the staff can get over there.
The supe told me they do quite a bit of pre permit date contact with the public. The usual innumerable questions, clarifications and conditions, etc. Also contacting large group permit holders to see if they can loosen up and give up some permits for others due to high demand. And so on. All takes time, so of course easier to accomplish with more time for it.
However, to me this appears to be primarily an “ease of operations” issue. Yes, of course it is easier to have more time to get the numbers in the right boxes, especially if high demand and pressure. But in terms of the goal to facilitate public use of the National Forests, it is absolutely does not cater to the realities of many people/users like me, or the many reasons for retaining a true 24 hour short term permit that has a chance of being obtained.

- OK, I have more to report but getting too long, so I am going to end off this post with a footnote of what I think I am going to suggest to Sierra NF regarding their future "W" permits:
1. To absolutely keep the 40% total permit quota as “W” walk ins but issued 24 hours in advance not 2 weeks!
2. They can indeed be issued online if physical issuance is a problem and staffing cannot cope with demand. The drop box at Prather was in action in summer of 2020 so it can be done, though as mentioned, I can see that doing that huge amount of permits by hand at the last minute could be taxing! If most got done online though, it would reduce that problem a lot.
3. Cancellations of long term permits (the 60%) in the last 2 weeks before permit date could just go to online availability when they are cancelled. They do not have to be retained and added into the “W” group as the “W” group would already have their 40% locked in for 24 hours before.
4. The “No Show” deadline should be the same as the 24 hour “W” trigger. If long term permit holders do not “confirm” by then they lose the permit...I have thought hard about this one and concluded that it is not perfect but is good enough. As if a permit is going to be a “No show” at 10:00 am on the day of the permit, I reckon very nearly all of those are going to be “No show” the day before!

Enough for now ~ Michaelzim

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by Harlen » Tue Feb 16, 2021 12:21 pm

Hey Michael, We appreciate your work on this important issue, and don't mind the length of your posts. You seem to think and write clearly for someone brought up in the wilds of Africa. ;)

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Michael age 4 :nod: .
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by michaelzim » Tue Feb 16, 2021 2:03 pm

=@Harlen Ha, ha....That is priceless!
And good to know the American education system taught you how to read and discern the crux of matters. A useful skill set in these times.
=D> =D> =D> Zimichael

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by paul » Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:11 am

Michael - in your conversations with SNF personnel. was it made clear when the online reservations would start? Their website has somewhat vague and almost contradictory information that to me makes it seem like they stopped accepting mail-in reservation in Dec. 2020, but won't start online until March 2021. I was looking at this stuff today, and I would call but they have no weekend hours listed at the moment.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by michaelzim » Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:32 am

@paul Ummmmmm, sorry but I have to admit that my main source for gleaning info on this permits rollout at Sierra NF has been via Inyo NF. The supe I have had a number of calls with over there is helping Sierra out in an advisory capacity for rec.gov, thus the connection.
Reason I have not talked to anyone at Sierra NF is because they do not seem to be returning calls/left messages, even during the week. Inyo does!

That said, Alexander Olow the Sierra NF public affairs liaison has answered my emails and this is the latest from him:

We understand that you and many other trekkers have concerns about the new process that is coming. It is understandable as anything with change has challenges involved. We are working to make this a very good process. We have also been in close contact with our neighbor Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks learning from their recent rollout and working to make adjustments in advance. I have forwarded all of your emails to those who are working on this new process.

If you could provide a brief short list of your concerns I will ensure that they are seen and responded to. I have reached out to those involved and have not heard back yet, as they are in meetings, training and testing to insure the functionality of the new program will be ready for roll out in March. Our date is still undetermined, but it is on the horizon.

Thank you for your patience.


Basically that says it is a work in progress and the result may show up in March...Exactly what it is going to be regarding our concerns for the "W" permits is not clear. Thus, the continued importance of directly sending them feedback on this.

Best ~ Michaelzim

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by freestone » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:08 pm

Below is a cut and paste on how Walk-ins will be processed by the different Sierra agencies. I think the highlighted statement under Inyo no longer applies. Thank you to all who have been communicating with the management for reality checks. The only outliers for Wilderness Permits seem to be Yosemite and Sequoia NF so it bodes well that regional management still has control of the trails and policy.



Inyo NF
Walk-in permits are only issued in person at the visitor center. No show and unused reservation space is made available for walk-in permits (??)


For the 2021 season while our visitor centers are not open to foot traffic all wilderness permits are by web reservation with check in by phone or email and permit delivered by email.
* 60% of the quota space can be reserved starting 6 months in advance.
* 40% of quota traditionally set aside for walk up permits is being added to the reservation website every Monday afternoon for the following Monday through Sunday. 
* If quota space is available, reservations can be made until one day before the trip.
* Canceled space is returned to the reservation calendar at a random time within 24 hours.

Yosemite
Follow these steps to get a wilderness permit:
1. Decide where you will begin your overnight hike.
Once you know where you want to begin your hike from, use the trailheads map [1.5 MB PDF] to determine the name of your trailhead. The trailhead information page has additional information, including quotas for each trailhead, parking information, and other details.

2. Check availability of reservations for the trailhead.
The trailheads report shows which trailheads are full for certain dates (as of the last-updated date shown at the top of the page). If the date or trailhead isn't listed, space is available for at least one person (but not necessarily for your entire group).

3. Apply for a wilderness permit reservation.
Wilderness permit reservations are processed by lottery 24 weeks (168 days) in advance of the hiking start date from mid-November through October. Submit your application as early as possible: popular trailheads fill up on the first day reservations are available and many other trailheads fill up almost as quickly.

Reservations are available fewer than 168 days in advance (but not fewer than two days in advance), although popular trailheads fill up the first day reservations are available.

4. If you're unable to get a reservation, consider a first-come, first-served permit.
This process is subject to change based on COVID-19 situation in 2021.

Wilderness permits are available during business hours at any permit issuing station beginning at 11 am the day before the beginning of your wilderness trip. Priority for permits for a particular trailhead is given to the closest permit issuing station. This means that the priority permit station will not allow other permit stations to issue a permit for its trailheads until its morning line is cleared. So, practically, it's not possible to get permits for popular trailheads except at the priority permit station. These trailheads include Lyell Canyon, Cathedral Lakes, Rafferty Creek, those leading to Little Yosemite Valley, and others.

First-Come, First-Served Procedure for all Wilderness Permit Stations

From approximately May through October, unreserved permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11 am on the day before the intended hiking date. All reservations (same day and next day) and same-day unreserved permits may still be picked up when the wilderness center opens for the day.

Though popular trailheads may fill up, there is always space available on other trailheads in the park. From November through April, wilderness permits are available without a reservation.



SEKI
Walk Up Wilderness Permits (Quota Season)
Step 1: Plan Your Trip
Decide where you want to go by looking at Trail Descriptions, the Park Atlas and Trail Conditions. Find the name of and quota limit for your desired trailhead on the Wilderness Trip Planner, entry quota map, or at Recreation.gov.
Step 2: Create a Recreation.gov Account (optional).
While optional, creating a recreation.gov account before your trip will save time at the trailhead.
Step 3: Permit Issuance and Payment
Walk-up permits can be obtained starting from 1:00pm the day before your trip begins. Permits are only issued during Permitting Desk Operating Hours by trailhead rangers who provide important area information. You must arrive at the correct trailhead desk for the trailhead you are hoping to snag a walk up permit on. Bring your entire party to the orientation. You will pay the fee of $15 per permit plus $5 per person at the issuing station. Please note credit cards are the preferred payment method.

Sierra NF
Trailhead quotas:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/sier ... width=full

Reservations and Fees for Wilderness Permits
Launching in March 2021, reservations will become available in a rolling window six months up to 14 days in advance of entry dates, if quota space is available, reservations can be made until one day before the trip. To cover the costs associated with the new system, the quota season permit fee will increase to $6 plus, $5 per person with the same 15 person maximum per permit. Refunds of the per person portion of the fee will be available in this new system in the event of cancellations or party size reductions 12 days prior to the trip. 
• Phone Reservations - For your protection, no phone reservations are accepted for wilderness reservation
Walk-in Permits
40% of  the trailhead quota traditionally is set aside for walk up permits is being added to the reservation website and updated with each reservation. Due to the ability to reserve these permits, there will be a fee of $6.00 per permit and $5.00 per person

Sequoia NF

2021 Golden Trout Wilderness Permits - Under current circumstances with COVID-19, the Sequoia National Forest will offer wilderness permits virtually through our website.
Until conditions improve, access for trails into the Golden Trout Wilderness will be limited to the Blackrock Trailhead or trailheads in neighboring Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest.  The North Road (FS21S50) and the Lloyd Meadow Road (FS22S82) north of Dry Meadow Road (22S53) will remain closed, possibly through summer 2021.  This closure is due to severely burned areas from the Castle Fire resulting in hazards to travelers on foot, horseback, or in vehicles. Wilderness permits for travel from Blackrock Trailhead can be obtained on the Sequoia National Forest through the following process.
Print and completely fill out the Application for a Wilderness Visitor's Permit 
Scan and email your completed application to the Sequoia National Forest to SM.FS.SequoiaNF@usda.gov  (monitored Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm.)
Within a week, you will receive a response to your email, confirming receipt of your application. Your hard copy application will then take the place of your permit for overnight stay in the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Sequoia National Forest. 
Keep a copy with you and share the information with someone at home to anticipate your safe return. The Forest Service will keep an electronic copy of your application on file in case of emergency and for our records. It is your responsibility to monitor conditions and fire restrictions and provide for your own safety. Current road conditions and fire restrictions will be posted on this website throughout the summer.

Both Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest will be issuing wilderness permits through  www.recreation.gov  the same reservation system used by most federal agencies for visitors to obtain campground reservations.
In Sequoia National Park, reservations for wilderness permits can be made for trip dates beginning up to 6 months in advance and will continue to be reservable up to 1 week prior to the start of the trip. A limited number of first-come, first-served permits will be available daily at select permit issuing stations in Cedar Grove, Grant Grove, Lodgepole, the Foothills, and Mineral King. For additional information, please visit https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/ ... ermits.htm
Inyo National Forest Wilderness permits are available on recreation.gov. On their home page search "Inyo National Forest - Wilderness Permits" to find a list of trails, or search "Mt Whitney" to find Mt Whitney Trail day-use and overnight-use permits. For more information, call Inyo National Forest (760) 873-2483 Open daily 8 am to 4:30 pm. (closed for lunch) May 15 through Oct 15. During winter months, closed on weekends and holidays. https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/inyo/passe ... recreation
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:56 am

For those who have worked with the internet permit system, is there a way you can "pre-load" all your personal and trip information and store it, and then when applying, simply enter the dates, and immediately submit?

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by TurboHike » Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:27 am

WD,

Personal info can be pre-loaded by creating an account; trip info is input on a trip by trip basis. Read on for details...

You'll need to create an account at recreation.gov; click the "sign up" link at the upper right corner of the website. Enter your email, create a password, etc. This will allow you to enter your personal information, such as name, address, etc. This information stays in the system. When you attempt to get a permit, you should log into your account first, which "pre-loads" the personal info you entered. The trip information is entered on a trip by trip basis. Choose the entry date, the size of your group, choose non-commerical, and choose the trailhead. For Inyo, you'll also need to specify "overnight" or "overnight exiting Whitney". Then click "book it". It is added to your shopping cart, at which point the system takes you to a different screen where you enter trip details such as exit trailhead, approximate camping locations, etc. You then enter payment information and check out, just like you are shopping online. You'll get an email confirmation. When it is added to your shopping cart, there is a time limit to check out, I think 15 minutes, so have your trip planned in advance.

After creating an account, I suggest you can add something to your shopping cart, just to see how it works. For Inyo, a curious feature is that there is a drop down menu of camping locations. By adding something to your cart, you can see what camp locations are available in the drop down menu, which can help with trip planning. Every possible location is not available, so just choose the closest available location. For example, I often choose SEKI-Other if I'm camping in SEKI for the night and nothing else makes sense. After you've looked around, just delete what's in your shopping cart if it's not something you really care to book. When I've done this in the past, I've chosen a really unpopular trail, like George Creek, so I'm not hogging a popular trail for 15 minutes and possibly preventing someone else from booking it.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by grampy » Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:58 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:56 am
... is there a way you can "pre-load" all your personal and trip information and store it, and then when applying, simply enter the dates, and immediately submit?
@TurboHike gave you good suggestions (esp. the last paragraph regarding “practicing” before you book your “real” trip), but I’m also going to answer:
No, you can’t “pre-store” your entire trip itinerary and just hit “book it”. As he stated, you have 15 minutes to input this stuff and input your payment info ... although you can ask for another 5 minutes to complete the process. But if you @Wandering Daisy follow my suggestion on how to have your basic trip info “pre-loaded” (posted in this thread Mon Feb 15 10:16 pm), it will help with the “fast fingers” issue getting your TH request into your “cart”, saving you possibly a minute or two (as compared to entering your request after the day’s reservation slots get loaded). This doesn’t always happen precisely at 07:00:01, by the way ... and remember - do NOT hit the “refresh” button in your browser, as doing so results in your request info getting erased (so you have to start over).

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