Do You Need Wilderness Permits to Camp in Mammoth Lakes?

If you’re reading this, then chances are you know just how beautiful Mammoth Lakes is year-round for everything from skiing and snowboarding to camping and mountain biking.

All the mountains, lakes, and trails that make Mammoth Lakes a beautiful place to camp attract millions of visitors though, which means that if we’re all going to camp here then we need to protect the land. Camping permits, restrictions, and other local laws are a great way to do just that but keeping track of them all is challenging.

That’s why the ASO Mammoth team has written up a quick list of where you need wilderness permits for camping around Mammoth Lakes below. Keep reading, and then visit us here at ASO Mammoth for the best camping and hiking gear in Mammoth Lakes!

Please remember to Leave No Trace while camping in and around Mammoth Lakes, or anywhere for that matter so that we can continue to share our planet’s natural beauty!

Camping in Mammoth Lakes

Although Mammoth Lakes is surrounded by national forests where dispersed camping is allowed, the city and the area immediately surrounding it, such as the Lakes Basin, do not allow dispersed camping. That means you will need a reservation through the National Forest Service in order to camp here.

There are private campgrounds within Mammoth Lakes such as the RV Park and Red’s Meadow, but for other camping you will need a reservation for a camping spot. Some areas operate on a first come, first serve basis, but you will need to check to make sure your desired camping areas does so.

Camping in Inyo National Forest

If you want to camp in a few of the most popular areas within Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding area, then Inyo National Forest is the place for you!

Although it is a national forest that allows dispersed camping away from developed campgrounds, most of the popular campgrounds in Inyo require reservations. You can see a list of the campgrounds that require reservations within Inyo National Forest here. If you click the link, you’ll quickly see that most of the Lakes Basin campgrounds as well as those in Reds Meadow require reservations.

You must follow all fire and campfire restrictions within Inyo National Forest while camping there, so review them on the forest’s website before visiting.

Ansel Adams Wilderness

If you’d like to further explore the beauty of the Eastern Sierra Mountains, then the Ansel Adams Wilderness is a great option.

However, backpacking and camping within the Ansel Adams Wilderness requires wilderness permits for overnight camping as well as campfire permits. Depending on the season, there may also be fire restrictions in place, so it’s important that you check ahead of time to make sure that you’re aware of all required permits and restrictions.

Sierra National Forest

Like Inyo National Forest, Sierra National Forest allows dispersed camping away from developed campgrounds. However, there are also local and campfire restrictions that all visitors must follow.

Click the link above to check for local restrictions before your visit.

John Muir Wilderness

Like other wilderness areas, the John Muir wilderness requires overnight permits as well as permits for campfires. There are also seasonal restrictions for the area that you must follow while camping and backpacking, so double check for everything you need to know before visiting the John Muir Wilderness!

Lastly, this map is a great resource for camping information in the Eastern Sierra!