Inyo National Forest

Hoover Wilderness Area

The area now known as the Hoover Wilderness was first recognized in 1931 by the Forest Service as an area in need of protection. Chief Forester, R.Y. Stewart, designated 20,540 acres as a primitive area, placing some restrictions on activities within the area to preserve its wild character. This primitive area was expanded to the present size of 47,930 acres in 1954, and in 1957 was designated as the Hoover Wild Area. With the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Hoover became one of the first wildernesses in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Adjoining the Hoover are 72,000 acres of pristine National Forest Lands being considered for future addition to this wilderness.

Attractions - The Hoover Wilderness is an extremely rugged area with elevations ranging from 8,000 to over 12,000 feet. The area is characterized by alpine lakes and meadows and is not very heavily forested. Rainbow, Brook, and Golden Trout can all be found in the high lakes of the Hoover.

Although the best time to travel the Hoover is between July and September, rain, blizzards, strong winds, and extreme cold can occur in any season. Firewood is quite scarce; fires are not allowed in the 20 Lakes Basin area. Pack in stock feed regardless of season.

The heaviest use of the wilderness occurs in the 20 Lakes Basin from Saddlebag Lake. The least use occurs in the northern part of the area. Topographic maps are available for $3.00, including postage and tax. Visitor permits are required. There is a quota on travel into Yosemite National Park.

Recreation - The Hoover Wilderness offers ample backcountry travel and fishing amongst its handful of alpine lakes and streams, as well as some access into Yosemite National Park which lies to the west.

Climate - Deep snow often covers the middle elevations from December to May, but subzero temperatures are rare. Precipitation falls mostly between January and mid-May, but thunderstorms, rain and even snow can occur at any time of year.

Temperatures vary with elevation. In the summer, daytime temperatures often exceed 100 degrees F in the foothills, but seldom exceed 90 degrees at higher elevations. Even in the summer, backpackers in the high country can encounter nighttime temperatures in the low 30's, and occasionally even in the 20's. In any season, it is wise to bring clothing that can be "layered". Always include some kind of rain gear.


The Hoover Wilderness is located in the northern portion of the Inyo National Forest where it is sandwiched between Mono Lake and the eastern portion of Yosemite National Park. The best access to it is via US Hwy. 395 which runs along its eastern edge.