Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing the way backpackers’ permits are issued

Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing
Reducing crowds in the wilderness, which have increased substantially in the past six years, is a goal of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park’s permit process. (In photo: A dozen or so backpackers congregate on Mather Pass in Kings Canyon National Park.)

Wilderness permit reservations moving to Recreation.gov; base price for a permit increases to $15 Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing

Beginning February 9, 2021, overnight visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks wilderness areas will make their wilderness permit reservations using the website Recreation.gov. This will replace the old system by which reservations were submitted by email to the parks’ Wilderness Office and processed manually.

Recreation.gov provides trip planning and reservation services for public lands nationwide, and using it for wilderness permit issuance will bring the parks into alignment with the adjacent Inyo National Forest. Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing

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Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing
Rae Lakes in Kings Canyon National Park is a favorite destination for backpackers. A quota system regulates the amount of people coming and going from the trailheads. There is also a one-night camping limit at the lakes due to this area’s popularity.

As of December 1, 2020, visitors can view the permits that will be available for reservation on Recreation.gov by searching “Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Permits,” or following the direct link https://www.recreation.gov/permits/445857/. Beginning in early February, reservations will become available on a daily basis six months in advance of entry dates. The 2021 quota season (when reservations are required) will run from May 28 through September 18.

“This new system will provide real-time availability information, as well as instant reservation confirmations, which visitors have repeatedly requested,” said Erik Frenzel, wilderness coordinator. “Recreation.gov also streamlines the payment process and provides more specific information for different entry points. We hope that wilderness visitors will find the new system makes trip planning a much better experience.” Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing

To cover the costs associated with the new system, the quota season permit fee will increase by $5 to $15 per permit plus $5 per person. Refunds of the per person portion of the fee will now be available in the event of cancellations or party size reductions.

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Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing
You’re going to have to make a reservation if you want to see the Rock Monster along the John Muir Trail near LeConte Canyon in Kings Canyon National Park.

At this time, the parks are also planning to resume in-person, walk-up permits for the 2021 quota season (cancelled in 2020 due to COVID). This means that a limited number of first-come, first-served permits will be available daily at permit issuing stations in Cedar Grove, Grant Grove, Lodgepole, Ash Mountain, and Mineral King. The parks are working on safety measures to make this possible while protecting visitor and employee health. Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing

The permit system is an essential part of the parks’ wilderness stewardship efforts, as it provides a limit on the number of people recreating in sensitive ecosystems during the high-use summer months and ensures visitors have the information to protect themselves and the wilderness. Outside quota season, self-issued permits for wilderness use are required. As in the past, these are available at visitor centers near trailheads. No fee is required outside the quota season.

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Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing
Sunset by reservation only. (In photo: View from Marjorie Lake, Kings Canyon National Park.)

Visitors will be able to begin making wilderness permit reservations on January 5, 2021. For more information, call the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Office or call (559) 565-3766. Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing

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Sequoia-Kings Canyon changing
These rocky mountain campsites in the Sierra are available by reservation on www.recreation.gov beginning January 5, 2021.

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