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Inyo Mountains Wilderness

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Area Management

The Inyo Mountains 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 Inyo Mountains Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Bureau of Land Management Information

The BLM portions of the Inyo Mountains Wilderness are managed under the same general wilderness prohibitions as the US Forest Service-managed land, consistent with the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Commercial use, organized group activity, competitive events and vending on all public land managed by the BLM requires a Special Recreation Permit. Commercial services are generally prohibited in wilderness areas. Section 4(d)(6)of the Wilderness Act allows those commercial services necessary for activities that are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the areas. Special recreation permits will only be considered for the Inyo Mountains Wilderness area if the managing agency determines it is consistent with BLM management policies for wilderness and the Inyo Mountains Wilderness, and the requirements of the Wilderness Act. Please contact the Bishop Field Office for questions about activities on BLM land on the west side of the Inyo Mountains and the Ridgecrest Field Office for questions about activities on BLM land on the east side of the Inyo Mountains.

Mechanized vehicles are not permitted in any designated wilderness. Bicycles, off-highway vehicles, and other types of motorized vehicles are all forms of mechanized transport. Vehicles are permitted on the "cherry-stemmed" Cerro Gordo- Swansea Road only. Other former travel routes in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness are being restored to a natural condition. Please support the restoration efforts and do not drive off road.

The Cerro Gordo-Swansea Road was not included within the wilderness and remains open to vehicles. The road is very rough and is prone to washouts, particularly in areas where it travels through drainages. The road is classified as four-wheel drive technical and is recommended for high-clearance, short wheel base, four wheel drive vehicles only.

2,220 acres that includes 1,200 acres of bristlecone pine, Pinus longaeva, on the Inyo Crest are designated as the Keynot Peak Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The Keynot Peak ACEC is located entirely within the Inyo Mountains Wilderness and was designated to protect the scientific and aesthetic values of the bristlecone pine-limber pine stands. Campfires are prohibited in this area. Wood removal is allowed under permit only. Please contact the Bishop Field Office for further information.

People have lived and traveled in the Inyo Mountains for thousands of years. All archeological resources in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness are protected by law. Do not collect or damage prehistoric or historic artifacts. Do not damage prehistoric or historic sites. The historic cabins and historic salt tram located within the Inyo Mountains Wilderness are protected by law. Please visit these areas with care and leave what you find for others to enjoy.

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.

-- 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.

-- Food and refuse must be stored in bear-resistant containers or counter-balanced at least 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet away from a tree trunk.

-- 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.

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

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

-- Do not shortcut switchbacks.

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


-- 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.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

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