A partnership of the National Park Service and the United States Forest Service.

Planning a Wilderness Trip

Taking some time to properly plan and prepare for recreating in a wilderness area can make or break your experience:

Option #1: Duct-taping the car window a bear destroyed, then having to sleep in an overpriced motel since you didn’t get the permit you wanted, after you tried to reach a lake you heard about, but you forgot your stove and mole skin, so you had to crawl back to the car hungry and hurting… in the rain.

Option #2: Watching the sun set from your ridge-top campsite as you sip hot chocolate, knowing you’ve got three days of food in the bear can, plus the fish you caught at that lake the ranger recommended.

How to use this site

If you know the wilderness area, park, or forest you’d like to learn about, go directly to that area and dig in.

If you’re looking for general wilderness information, use the pages in the yellow sidebar to get started.

Some General Planning Tips

  • Make sure the area you plan to visit fits your needs: Do you want to bring your dog? Is that route too challenging? Do you need to get a permit in advance?
  • Be flexible: Have a backup option in case the area you planned for doesn’t work out. There are endless great wilderness trips in the Sierra.
  • If possible, avoid the most popular areas on busy weekends and holidays. Midweek and during off-seasons popular trails can be almost deserted.
  • Pick your gear carefully with safety and Leave No Trace in mind. Double-check our Backpacking Gear List as a starting point.
  • Plan your food with bears and food storage in mind: Is everything going to fit in your bear canister?
Hands through the grass

Fall grass in the Sierra before the first snow fall