Whitney Portal Road Reconstruction Planned for 2016
Significant Impacts to Access, Parking
submitted by the Inyo National Forest
The Whitney Portal Road Reconstruction is planned for the 2016 season under a funding request from Inyo County. The road will be re-paved and needs significant repairs for safety. The project begins just west of Lone Pine and ends just east of Whitney Portal.
Whitney Portal is the most popular trailhead on the forest; with hikers applying, by lottery, to ascend the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. Mt Whitney is also the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail (JMT).
“There is no way to complete this project without having a significant impact on visitors to the Whitney Portal area,” said Ed Armenta, Forest Supervisor. “The road has only one ingress/egress and the already limited parking will be much reduced. Accessing the area may be, at times, difficult and frustrating. Your planning and patience will help complete this very important project.”
Visitors have long used roadside parking as an overflow. During construction near Whitney Portal, this roadside parking will not be available.
Construction delays will be up to three hours, twice a day. Visitors to Whitney Portal should anticipate that there may not be a parking space available.
Visitors to Whitney Portal should consider carpooling, being dropped off by friends, or shuttle services available from the Lone Pine area.
Visitors who want to hike Mt. Whitney are strongly encouraged to enter the lottery since walk-in permits will not be issued when parking is unavailable. Please apply via www.recreation.gov.
See the tips below for planning your trip to Whitney Portal this year.
Accessing Whitney Portal: How To Make it Work
• If you do plan to visit Whitney in the summer of 2016, please pack your patience and carefully plan your trip to avoid the construction delays and the parking problems.
• Check the construction schedule before you head up to Whitney Portal (Twitter (@mtwhitneyinfo), at the Interagency Visitor Center (760-876-6222), on the web (http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5150055). There may be times when delays and parking are little impacted. There may be periods with 30 minute delays, and two 3-hour delays per day in the peak of construction.
• Please be prepared that there may not be a parking space available for you.
• Consider carpooling, being dropped off by friends, or explore local shuttle services.
• To help alleviate the problem of reduced parking, long-term parking will not be permitted. No overnight parking is available for anyone not starting and ending a hike at Whitney Portal. If you are entering or exiting the Whitney Trail via the Pacific Crest Trail, the High Sierra Trail, the JMT or other popular long-distance routes, you may not park or stage a vehicle at the trailhead.
• Long-term parking may be available in Lone Pine. Check with the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce (760) 876-4444).
• An alternative to parking and hiking from Whitney Portal is the National Recreation Trail that connects the Whitney Portal Campground and Lone Pine Campground to the trailhead. This is an additional four miles of hiking with an additional 2,400 ft. in elevation gain. Parking is allowed clear of the roadway.
• All permitted Whitney hikers will receive a day or overnight parking permit that must be displayed on their vehicle. Whitney overnight hikers with valid parking passes may park at Whitney Portal for a maximum of 3 nights, if space is available. No day-use parking will be allowed after 8:00 p.m.
• A limited number of well-signed parking spaces will be available for day-users to the Whitney Portal area who are not hiking to Mt. Whitney.
• Parked vehicles without the required permit, that overstay their limit, interfere with construction activities, or are unsafely parked will be towed.
• The Inyo National Forest will honor the efforts of people who apply via the lottery for a Whitney hike. People who want to hike Whitney in 2016 are strongly encouraged to use the lottery system for the hike (please apply via www.recreation.gov).
• Many people who apply via the lottery cannot make the hike for a variety of personal reasons and the forest has re-issued those permits to “walk-ins” at the visitor center the day before or the day of for interested hikers. These walk-ins may not be available in 2016.The forest intends to manage the limited parking, in part, by limiting the walk-in permits. If there is no parking, then the walk-in permits will not be issued, or a reduced number will be issued.
• People who plan to take advantage of the walk-in process need to understand this option may not be available this year, especially in the peak of the summer which will likely be when construction is underway near Whitney Portal.