Do You Need a Permit to Camp in Inyo National Forest?

Camping in Inyo National Forest is a great way to experience California’s majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. With over two million acres of forest and alpine wilderness, Inyo offers visitors a variety of camping opportunities that range from primitive camping in the backcountry to developed campgrounds with flush toilets, showers and picnic tables.

But before you set out on your camping trip, it’s important to understand what permits are required.

The first step is to determine where you plan to camp. Camping in designated campsites requires a permit and a California Campfire Permit for any open fires or campstoves.

Backcountry camping does not require a permit, but you must follow all Leave No Trace guidelines for wilderness areas.

Designated campsites are located throughout Inyo National Forest and are managed by the Forest Service or private concessionaires. These campsites typically have amenities such as fire rings, picnic tables, potable water and restrooms. A reservation or permit is required for overnight stays at these locations.

If you plan to go backcountry camping in Inyo National Forest, there are some regulations to follow for a safe and enjoyable trip. You must stay in designated sites, be at least one mile away from any main roads or trails, and remain at least 300 feet away from any streams or rivers. A California Campfire Permit must also be obtained before starting an open fire.


Whether you plan to stay at a designated campsite or go backcountry camping in Inyo National Forest, it’s important to know the rules and regulations regarding permits so that you can enjoy your trip safely and responsibly. A reservation or permit is typically required for overnight stays at designated campsites while no permit is needed for backcountry camping but campers must still adhere to Leave No Trace principles.

Do You Need a Permit to Camp in Inyo National Forest? The answer is yes if you plan on staying overnight at a designated campsite; however if you plan on doing backcountry camping no permit is necessary but campers still need to follow Leave No Trace principles.

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Jennifer Watson