The Ansel Adams Wilderness is dotted with sparkling lakes, glacially sculpted gorges, and imposing peaks. Originally protected as wilderness by the 1964 Wilderness Act, it was first called the Minarets Wilderness. Renamed to honor Ansel Adams in 1984, it spreads over 230,258 acres, ranging in altitude from about 7,000 feet to 14,000 feet.
For thousands of years this area has been inhabited by people of the Miwok, Monache, Mono, Washo, and Shoshone tribes. Acorns, pinon pine nuts, and obsidian were gathered and traded along routes that crisscrossed this wilderness.
The Ansel Adams is located between Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes. The John Muir Trail (and Pacific Crest Trail) passes through this wilderness, and it can be accessed from both sides of the Sierra crest. Most people enter the wilderness from the east, starting in the Mammoth Lakes area (near Devils Post Pile National Monument), or from the south near Lake Thomas Edison.
Shuttle Bus to Reds Meadow/Agnew Meadow
All visitors accessing Reds Meadow Valley must pay a per-person user fee which will allow use of the mandatory shuttle bus.
Permits are required for all overnight trips in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Why?
All trailheads in this wilderness have entry quotas. These apply to all overnight visitors, whether you use the services of a commercial outfitter/guide or not. Some trails have specific commercial quotas, and all visitors using a commercial outfitter or guide must obtain their permit through the commercial operator. Some trails have ‘single quotas’ where all commercial and non-commercial visitors must compete for the same quota space.
MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE
No more than 15 people and 25 head of stock are allowed per group on overnight trips. Why?
BEARS AND FOOD STORAGE
The Inyo and Sierra National Forests each have a forest order regarding "proper food storage". They prohibit possessing or storing any food or refuse unless stored in a bear-proof container or in another manner designed to keep bears from gaining access to the food or refuse. In addition to this, bear canisters are required in certain areas within Inyo National Forest.
All Inyo ranger stations are renting backpacker bear canisters and barrels for stock parties. Rates will be on a per trip basis, with a trip defined as 7 days or less. If your trip is longer then seven days, rentals are by week. Backpacker canisters are $5.00 per trip/week and barrels (appropriate for horse travel) are $15.00 per trip/week. Limited numbers are available. Many ranger stations also have bear canisters available for sale, a do many local sporting goods stores.
Campfires are generally allowed within the Ansel Adams wilderness below "tree line" (around 10,000 feet), though there are exceptions. Check campfire regulations in the Inyo National Forest and Sierra National Forest. Here's a useful PDF summary of Sierra National Forest's WIlderness Regs.
In places where fires are allowed, make sure to always follow smart campfire guidelines.
Campfires are prohibited:
- Within ¼ mile of Garnet and Thousand Island Lakes.
- Within 300 feet of the shore of Shadow Lake, and between Shadow Creek Trail and Shadow Creek from Shadow Lake to Ediza Lake outlet crossing.
- Within the Lake Ediza watershed
- Within the Minaret Lake watershed
There are special regulations pertaining to pets in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Domestic goats are not allowed and dogs mush be on physical or verbal control at all times in bighorn sheep habitat areas as a result of the listing of this species as Endangered. Maps of the closure areas are available to assist in planning your trip. These files are large, and are suitable for printing.
Camping is prohibited in the following areas of the Ansel Adams Wilderness:
- Within ¼ mile of the outlets of Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes.
- On the south side of Lake Ediza.
- Within 300 feet of the shore of Shadow Lake.
- Between Shadow Creek Trail and Shadow Creek from Shadow Lake to Lake Ediza outlet crossing.
- Rainbow Lake for a distance of 1/4 mile from the shoreline in all directions.
- Lillian Lake for a distance of 400 feet of the shoreline from the stream flow dam northward around the shoreline for a distance of approximately 1/4 mile from the outlet.
- Cora Lake for a distance of 400 feet of the shoreline from the outlet north-ward to a point approximately 1/4 mile from the outlet.
- Sadler Lake for a distance of 400 feet of the shoreline from the junction of the Isberg and Mclure trails, northward approximately 1/4 mile.
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