Wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips into the most popular wilderness areas. For national forest areas in the Sierra Nevada, and especially for the national parks, advance reservations are strongly recommended. Yosemite permits can be reserved up to 24 weeks in advance by phone, fax, or mail (www.nps.gov/yose; phone: 372-0740; fax: 372-0739). The reservation fee is $5 plus $5 for each person in the group. Reservations for Sequoia and Kings Canyon permits are accepted starting March 1. A $15 fee is charged (www.nps.gov/seki; 559-565-3341). For national forest trailheads, requesting a permit in March or April should guarantee a reservation in areas subject to daily quotas. Check with each forest's headquarters for further details.
For overnight trips in non-wilderness areas within national forests, such as the popular Hite's Cove trip on the South Fork of the Merced River, no permit is required unless you plan on having a campfire. An annual California Campfire Permit, valid in all National Forests and BLM areas, can be obtained from any ranger station. Sequoia National Forest has offered an online permit for several years, but hasn't yet updated it for 2013 (www.fs.fed.us/r5/
campfire-index.html). Campfires may be prohibited in specific areas or in times of fire danger, so make sure you check restrictions before your trip. The permit also is required for camping on public lands outside of established campgrounds.
California State Park campground reservations are available at www.reserveamerica.com or by calling 800-444-7275. Reservations can be made as early as seven months in advance. Reservations are opened in month-long blocks on the first of each month. Currently, they can be made through July 31. The next block (through Aug. 31) will open on Feb. 1 at 8 a.m.
The remote eastern section of Henry Coe State Park is open for vehicle access on April 26-28 of this year. Access is granted via a lottery system that will open in February. For more information go to www.coepark.net.
The Sierra Foothill Conservancy offers a wide variety of hikes and classes in the spring. A full calendar of these activities and an easy-to-use online reservation system can be found by going to www.sierrafoothill.org/hikes_classes_2010.htm. You can also call 559-855-3473.
When trying to get a reservation or a permit for a popular trail or accommodation, the best strategy is to use Internet reservation systems or to send in your application at the earliest possible time. If you can plan your trip for a weekday or the offseason, your likelihood of success increases exponentially.
Adam Blauert can be reached at email@example.com
JAN. 2: Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp
FEB. 1: Mt. Whitney permits, Path of the Padres, Henry Coe Backcountry Weekend
MARCH 1: Half Dome permits, Sequoia and Kings Canyon wilderness permits
SEPT. 1: Yosemite High Sierra Camp reservations
1ST OF EACH MONTH (8 a.m.): California State Parks (seven months in advance)
15TH OF EACH MONTH (7 a.m.): Yosemite campgrounds (five months in advance)
24 WEEKS IN ADVANCE: Yosemite wilderness permits
6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE: national park and national forest campground reservations
1 YEAR IN ADVANCE: Sequoia and Kings Canyon lodging reservations
366 DAYS IN ADVANCE (7 a.m.): Yosemite lodging reservations