Sierra National Forest

John Muir Wilderness

The John Muir Wilderness is a wilderness area that extends along the crest of the Sierra Nevada of California, USA for 90 miles (140 km), in the Inyo and Sierra National Forests.Established in 1964 by the Wilderness Act and named for naturalist John Muir, it contains 581,000 acres (2350 km²). The wilderness along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra from near Mammoth Lakes in the north, to Cottonwood Pass in the south. The wilderness area also spans the Sierra north of Kings Canyon National Park, and extends on the west side of the park down to the Monarch Wilderness.

The wilderness contains the most spectacular and highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada, with 57 peaks over 13,000 feet (4,000 m) in elevation. The peaks are typically made of granite from the Sierra Nevada Batholith, and are dramatically shaped by glacial action. The southernmost glacier in the United States, the Palisade Glacier, is contained within the wilderness area.Notable eastside glaciated canyons are drained by Rock, McGee, and Bishop Creeks.

The eastern escarpment in the wilderness rises from 6,000 to 8,000 feet (1,800 to 2,400 m) from base to peak, in 5 to 6 miles (8 to 10 km). The Sierra crest contains peaks from 12,000 to 14,000 feet (3,700 to 4,300 m) in elevation, including Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States. Other notable mountains in the wilderness area include the Palisades, and Mount Humphreys.

The John Muir wilderness contains the largest contiguous area above 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in the continental United States. It contains large areas of subalpine meadows and fellfields, above 10,800 feet (3,300 m), containing stands of whitebark and foxtail pine.. From 9,000 feet (2,700 m) to 10,800 feet (3,300 m), the wilderness is dominated by lodgepole pines. Below the lodgepole forest is forest dominated by Jeffrey pine.

Common animals in the wilderness include yellow-bellied marmots, pikas, golden-mantled ground squirrels, Clark's nutcrackers, and black bears. The wilderness area also includes California Bighorn Sheep Zoological Areas, which are set aside for the protection of the species. People cannot enter these areas during calving season, and dogs are prohibited at all times.

The wilderness contains 589.5 miles (948.7 km) of hiking trails, including the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail which run through the wilderness from north to south. The John Muir Wilderness is the second most-visited wilderness in the United States, and quota are required for overnight use on virtually all trailheads.