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Ansel Adams Wilderness

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Area Management

The Ansel Adams Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Ansel Adams Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Forest Service Information

General Wilderness Prohibitions

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

In a few areas some exceptions allowing the use of motorized equipment or mechanical transport are described in the special regulations in effect for a specific area. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information.

These general prohibitions have been implemented for all national forest wildernesses in order to implement the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant.

Wilderness-Specific Regulations

Wilderness managers often need to take action to limit the impacts caused by visitor activities in order to protect the natural conditions of wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Managers typically implement 'indirect' types of actions such as information and education measures before selecting more restrictive measures. When regulations are necessary, they are implemented with the specific intent of balancing the need to preserve the character of the wilderness while providing for the use and enjoyment of wilderness.

The following wilderness regulations are in effect for this area. Not all regulations are in effect for every wilderness. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information about the regulations listed.


-- Group size is limited to no more than 15 people per party.

-- From May 1 to November 1, there are daily entry quotas for each trailhead.

-- Permits are required year-round for overnight trips.

-- Campfires are prohibited above 10,000 feet and in a number of site specific areas. Please visit the Inyo National Forest and Sierra National Forest Wilderness web pages for maps of these campfire restriction areas.

-- From Memorial Day weekend to October 31, food and refuse must be stored in bear-resistant containers throughout most of the Inyo National Forest portion of the Wilderness. Where containers are not required, food and refuse must be counter-balanced at least 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet away from a tree trunk. Please visit the Inyo National Forest Wilderness web pages for maps of the container-required areas.

-- Do not dispose of bodily waste within 100 feet of any campsite, trail, or water source.

-- Do not dispose of soap waste (including biodegradable soaps) within 100 feet of any water source.

-- Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies for more than 24 hours is prohibited.

-- Do not shortcut switchbacks.

-- Pack out all debris, garbage, or other waste.

-- Do not discharge a firearm, except for emergencies and the taking of game as permitted by State law.


-- Camp at least 100 feet from of any trail or water source when terrain allows. Never camp within 25 feet of any trail nor 50 feet of any water source.

-- Camping and campfires are prohibited within 1/4 mile of the outlet of Garnet and Thousand Island Lakes, and within 300 feet of Shadow Lake and along Shadow Creek.

-- Camping is prohibited on the south side of Ediza Lake.


-- Groups are limited to no more than 25 head of pack or saddle stock per party.

-- Do not hitch, tether, or tie-up pack or saddle stock within 100 feet of campsites, trails, or water sources, except while loading or unloading.

-- Grazing pack or saddle stock above 7,000 feet elevation is restricted by range readiness dates each year. Range readiness on-dates are set for four elevation bands: 7,000 to 7,999 feet; 8,000 to 8,999 feet; 9,000 to 9,999 feet; above 10,000 feet.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

Wilderness Permit System

A wilderness permit system has been implemented for this wilderness. This involves a use limiting permit system with quotas and reservations. Wilderness permit systems are implemented to collect information on use levels and patterns and as an education and information tool. Use limiting systems are implemented after monitoring has determined that current use levels are resulting in unacceptable impacts to the resource and/or to the wilderness recreation experience. These systems help distribute visitor use throughout the season and help minimize crowded conditions at popular areas. People interested in visiting the Ansel Adams Wilderness should contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more information about this permit system, which may vary by location or time of the year.


The following user fee system(s) have been implemented for this wilderness: RESERVATION. Fees are most often used to offset the operating costs of a permit system or to help fund management activities such as trail maintenance. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information on this fee system.

National Park Service Information

Unless otherwise specified, no motorized equipment or mechanical transport, with the exception of wheelchairs, is allowed. This is generally true for all federal lands managed as designated wilderness.

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