Sierra National Forest

Ansel Adams Wilderness

This alpine wilderness, named after the renowned landscape photographer Ansel Adams, is dotted with sparkling lakes, glacially sculptured gorges and imposing peaks and spires. This 228,500 acres wilderness includes a number of lake and stream systems that are the headwaters of the San Joaquin River. Vegetation is mixed coniferous and deciduous forest of pine and oak in low elevation and subalpine forests of lodgepole pine, mountain hemlock and red fir. Alpine meadows grace the higher elevations with wildflowers and crystal streams.
Elevations range from hot dry canyons at 3,500 feet in the San Joaquin River gorge to 13,157 foot Mount Ritter. Precipitation is from 18 to 50 inches, with snow depth averages about 171 inches.
The John Muir Trail, which starts in Yosemite National Park, crosses Donahue Pass (11,056 feet), into the Ansel Adams Wilderness and south through Inyo National Forest on the east side of the sierra crest. This portion of trail is part of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. There are hundreds of miles of trail offering access to the John Muir Wilderness and Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks.
The Ansel Adams Wilderness has good stream and lake fishing that include rainbow, golden and eastern brook trout. The Ritter Range affords challenges for experienced mountain climbers with several small glaciers under its rugged peaks. Southern portions of the wilderness provide forests of huge pine and fir where few people visit.

Wilderness Permits and Trailhead Quotas
A wilderness visitor permit is required for all overnight trips into the wilderness. Trailhead quotas are in place year-round. For all trails, 60 percent of the trailhead quota is available through advanced reservations and 40 percent is available 24 hours prior to entry for walk-in customers, first come-first served.
There is a $5.00 non-refundable reservation fee for each person for all trails. There is a $10.00 charge for any changes to a confirmed reservation. For trips exiting at Mt. Whitney there is a $15.00 fee. First come, first served permits are free of charge.
First come, first serve permits are free of charge and may be obtained in person up to 24 yours prior to the start of your trip.

Group Size:
Group size is limited to 15 people and 25 head of stock for overnight trips.

Proper Food Storage:
Backcountry and wilderness users are required to store food or refuse in a manner designed to keep bears from gaining access to it. Visitors are encouraged to use bear-resistant food canisters to safeguard food. If a bear canister is not available, the counterbalance method of storing food is also an acceptable method.

Bear-Resistant Canisters:
These portable containers are the only effective way for backpackers to store food in wilderness.

Each canister weighs less than 3 pounds, fits in a full-sized backpack, and is capable of holding up to 3 to 5 day?s worth of food for one person. When using canisters remember the following guidelines:
? Store all food, cosmetics, toothpaste, soap, and refuse in the canisters.
? At night or when you are way from camp, leave your empty pack on the ground with all pockets and flaps open.
? Put the canister 50 feet from your sleeping area.
? Leave the canister on the ground.
? Do not hang the canister from a tree.

Bear Canister Purchase and Rental
Through a partnership with Three Forest Interpretive Association, the Forest Service offers bear canister rentals at the High Sierra Station located in the Florence/Edison Lake area. Canisters are available infor
$3.00 per day. A $75.00 refundable deposit per canister is required. Canisters must be returned to the office where you rented it from.

Campfires permits are included with your wilderness permit. No fires are permitted above 10,000 in elevation. Please keep fires small and use only dead and down material. Campfires are prohibited in the following areas:
? Within 300 feet of Shadow Lake.
? Within the watersheds of Lake Ediza and Minaret Lake.
? Within Shadow Creek.
? Within 1/4 mile of the outlets of Garnet and Thousand Island Lakes.
? Within 400 feet of the shoreline of Rutherford
? All special closure areas where camping is not

Leave No Trace
To practice LEAVE NO TRACE, follow these simple practices:
? Camp at least 100 feet away from water sources and trails.
? Bury human waste in a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and over 100 feet away from any water source.
? Use a stove for cooking and existing fire rings, and go without open fires in remote areas.
? Stay on the main trail and don?t shortcut switchbacks.
? Pack out all trash, including paper and food scraps.
? Purify all water for human use.
? Use soap at least 100 feet away from any water source.

To Obtain a Wilderness Permit
To obtain a wilderness permit and for additional information contact:

Bass Lake Ranger District
57003 Road 225
North Fork, CA 93643
(559) 877-2218
TDD/TTY-California Relay Service 711

High Sierra Ranger District
P.O. Box 559
Prather, CA 93651
(559) 855-5360
TDD/TTY California Relay Service 711

Sierra National Forest Website


The Minarets Highway (FS 81) and Highway 168 access the western slope trailheads on the Sierra National Forest. Commercial pack stations provide services on the west side from Clover Meadow and Florence and Edison Lakes. On the east side of the Sierra Nevada, commercial pack stations are available at Agnew and Reds Meadow (Inyo National Forest).