Big Bear
Mammoth Lakes


Ask the Concierge
Get a Brochure
Return Home



The Ansel Adams Wilderness including the Minarets Wilderness is an area of 228,500 acres in the Sierra and Inyo National Forests.

Within the Ansel Adams are a number of fairly large streams and many lakes that form the headwaters of the Middle Fork and North Fork of the San Joaquin River. Vegetation is typical of the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada; there are stands of Red Fir and some Jeffrey Pine along the upper reaches of the San Joaquin River.

Other areas are alpine in character, with scattered stands of Lodgepole Pine, Mountain Hemlock, and Quaking Aspen. Much of the Ansel Adams Wilderness is barren granite. Elevations range from 7,600 feet to 13,157 feet. Precipitation varies from an average of 18 inches in the extreme northern and eastern regions to 50 inches in the Minarets Range. Summer temperatures are 30-85 degrees. There is generally a frost-free period from mid-July through August and this is the ideal time of the year for visitors.

The Inyo National Forest portion of the Ansel Adams is crossed from north to south by the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. It enters the Ansel Adams Wilderness at Donahue Pass (11,100 feet) and leaves 4 miles northwest of the Devil's Postpile National Monument. The Ansel Adams has excellent stream and lake fishing for rainbow, golden and eastern brook trout. The Minarets Range affords challenges for experienced mountain climbers. Several small glaciers are located on the north and northeast facing slopes of the highest peaks.

Approach roads to the Wilderness are the Tioga Pass Road on the north; Highway 395, the June Lake Loop Road 158, and the Reds Meadow Road in Mammoth Lakes; the Minarets Highway on the west side. Commercial packers operate from June Lake, Agnew Meadow and Reds Meadow on the east and from Clover Meadow and Edison Lake on the west.


A Visitor Permit is required for entry. In addition, a quota system is in effect for the former Minarets portion of the Wilderness, from July 1 through Labor Day. Only everyone's effort will preserve the beauty and solitude of the Wilderness experience.


  • Maximum group size is 15.

  • Camp at least 100 feet from meadows, stream banks, and lakeshores.

  • Do not shortcut switchbacks.

  • Keep soaps and detergents including biodegradable varieties out of lakes and streams.

  • Treat stream or lake water before using. Boil at least 5 minutes to remove harmful organisms.

  • Bury all human waste and toilet paper 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 100 feet from water where runoff won't carry contamination into lakes or streams.

  • Use gas stoves in the high country. Do not use wood from live or dead standing trees.

  • Pack out all your trash.


You will want to get detailed maps of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The Inyo National Forest and Ansel Adams Wilderness maps are available, along with USGS quad maps.

Sudden mountain storms are common throughout the year, especially in the afternoons and evenings. Be aware of possible thunderstorms during the summer. Snow may fall any time of the year. During lightning storms it is best to avoid open areas such as meadows, ridges, and mountaintops, and to stay away from water and isolated trees. Find safe shelter among dense small trees in the lower areas or in a boulder field. If this is not possible, lie down flat on the ground. In all cases remove metal frame backpacks and metal tent poles, as this will attract lightning.


Altitude sickness may occur whenever someone ascends rapidly to an altitude of 7,000 feet or more. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, headache, and loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath on exertion. Sleep may be difficult for the first few nights. Deep, rapid breathing may occur, causing light-headedness, dizziness, and tingling of hands and feet. These symptoms show that the body is not receiving sufficient oxygen. To treat altitude problems, stop and rest; breathe deeply a few times; eat some simple sugars, such as candy or fruit; drink some water and take aspirin; and most importantly, travel to a lower elevation if symptoms continue. In extreme cases, descend immediately---death from pulmonary edema can occur. Prevent altitude sickness by keeping in good physical condition, eating a well balanced diet, and drinking plenty of fluids. Before starting your trip, stay a couple of days at higher altitudes so your body can acclimate.

Stream flows will be high and swift during the snowmelt runoff from May through July. Rushing water can be deadly. Although most rivers in the Sierra Nevada are bridged, high runoff can make even small, un-bridged creeks dangerous. When crossing an un-bridged creek, look for a natural bridge such as a log or rocks. However, use caution: they can be extremely slippery. If none are available, wade the creek where it is wider and shallower. Make sure your crossing is not above rapids or a river gorge. Unbuckle the waist strap on your pack and use a long stick or pole for stability. If you are with a group, hold onto each other and cross together. Do not tie yourself into "
" ropes-they can drown you.

For information and wilderness visitor permits to the Ansel Adams Wilderness contact the district station closest to the trailhead you plan to use.

East Side Entry June Lake Loop to Tioga Pass
Inyo National Forest Mono Lake Ranger District
PO. Box 429 Lee Vining, CA 93541
(760) 647-6525
East Side Entry

Reds Meadow to Agnew Meadow
Inyo National Forest Mammoth Ranger District Highway 203
P.O. Box 148 Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
(760) 924-5500

West Side Entry North of San Joaquin River
Sierra National Forest Minarets Ranger District
North Fork, CA 93643
(209) 877-2218

West Side entry South of San Joaquin River
Sierra National Forest Pine Ridge Ranger District
PO. Box 300 Shaver Lake, CA 93664
(209) 841-3311

Wave Rave Snowboard Shop
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Kittredge Sports
3218 Main Street
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Rick's Sports Center
3241 Main Street
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

P3 Sports
3323 Main Street
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Adventure in Camping
PO Box 100 PMB 311
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Footloose Sports
PO Box 1929
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

The Troutfitter
Shell Mart Center
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Mammoth Event Planners | Corporate Trips to Mammoth
Special Deal Why waste your time standing in a line, when you can rent your Mammoth ski rentals online! You can save $8.00 per day over other sport stores, and you will wish you did! Mammoth Mountain Ski Rentals

Special Deal Absolutely easy! Book Juniper Springs Lodge, The Westin, The Village in advance for best pricing on Mammoth Lakes Hotels