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Mokelumne Wilderness

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Area Management

The Mokelumne 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 Mokelumne Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

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 12 people per party for day trips.

-- During the summer, a $5.00 day use/parking fee is charged at the Carson Pass, Carson Pass Overflow, Woods Lake and Meiss trailheads. A season day pass can be purchased for $20.00. (Parking at the Carson Pass and Meiss Parking areas is limited to June 1st to October 1st due to its operation as a State Sno-Park during the winter months.). Interagency Passes can be used as well. Please note – Woods Lake trailhead will be going under concession management which may result in an increased parking fee.

-- Campfires are prohibited above 8,000 feet, in the Carson Pass Management Area, and from the high water line lip to 4,600 feet in elevation on the north shore of Salt Springs Reservoir.

-- Pets must be leashed in the Carson Pass Management Area and under the owner's control in all other areas.


-- Group size is limited to no more than 8 people for overnight trips.

-- Permits are required for overnight stays. One permit per group is required. Permits can be obtained at the Carson Pass Information Station, Amador Ranger District, Calaveras Ranger District, Carson Ranger District, Bridgeport Ranger District and the Markleeville Chamber of Commerce. Day use permits are not required.

-- From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, an overnight stay limit of 2 nights is in effect for Round Top and Winnemucca Lakes and 3 nights for Fourth of July Lake.

-- In the Carson Pass Management Area, camp at least 100 feet away from streams, lakes, and trails.

-- Snow camping is not restricted to assigned sites when there is at least one foot of snow on the ground. Minimum distances from watersheds still apply.


-- Groups are limited to no more than 12 head of pack or saddle stock for both day and overnight use.

-- Grazing is prohibited within the Round Top Special Interest Area.

-- Riding or allowing stock off-trail within the Round Top Special Interest Area is prohibited.

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 Mokelumne 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: TRAILHEAD PARKING. 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.

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