Whitney Portal Road Reconstruction information

US Forest Service press release

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 attached for tips 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.


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14 Responses to Whitney Portal Road Reconstruction information

  1. Easystrider January 30, 2016 at 7:33 am #

    Isn’t this a County Road and project? This press release from FS seems to be just notifying how to cope with the issues due to construction between Lone Pine and “east of Whitney Portal” the reconstruction work seems to be all on the county road.

  2. Bobby January 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    Mount Whitney Golf Course is making room for parking …for more info please call Bobby Daniels at 760-608-1252

    • Charles O. Jones January 31, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

      Kudos to the golf course for helping out.

  3. WTF January 29, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    I use this road more then you could possibly imagine and the timing and kind of restrictions are ridiculous. Besides the fact that there is a legitimate business at the end of it, “Twice three hours a day” is practically closed, and walk an extra 4 miles and almost another 3000 feet. Priceless! I understand that the road needs to be repaired but the USFS is simply making poor decisions. I was up there last week and the road is closed for the season and yet probably around 75% snow free… Try and ask yourself- why wasn’t this construction (or at least some of it, the majority of it) done in the past three months instead of planning it during peak season? This is just another example of the USFS conducting business to fit their needs instead of the publics best interest .

  4. Tinner January 28, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

    It sure would be nice if the USFS awarded local contractors and laborers for these jobs as much as possible.

    • Easystrider January 30, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

      This is a poorly written, confusing press release. All work is by Inyo County on Whitney Portal Road between Lone Pine city limits and ending before the USFS trailhead, they are trying to make sure visitors understand the related issues due to construction lower down along the road. Most of the time consuming complicated work is in the canyon along the creek and the bridges over the creek between town and Horseshoe Mdw Road junction. There have been numerous County meetings and articles about this for the past two years.

  5. o.v local January 28, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

    Wow another negative comment from lo inyo, what a shocker. You do realize that there are 100s of places to go in the owens valley to get away from the crowds that show up in the summertime. The whitney portal road is getting bad, cracks 3 to 6 inchs wide stretching accros the whole road, send a shiver thru the whole car when u hit em. Thump thump, thump thump. I for one am glad to see it get repaved.(:

    • Low-Inyo January 29, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

      o.v.local….nothing negative at all about what I said…I’m glad they are repaving it too….the negative comments are the ones bitching about the USFS “taking or limiting access to their public land “….not mine…sorry if you don’t agree with my point of view on limited access….

  6. wilderbeast January 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    WTF are you thinking? They are limiting your access to fix the road. Road repair is labor intensive and uses big machines. When the road is fixed, you’ll have access limited only by the limited parking available. The road is crumbling with giant potholes. It is a two lane road that gets incredible use. It needs to be repaired. Deal with it

  7. Low-Inyo January 28, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    WTF…..Have you ever been to the Portals in peak-season ?….if you have,a PERFECT case to why some places SHOULD have limits to public access…..same with Yosemite Valley in Spring and Summer seasons….go on vacation to get away from the crowds….and then needing ANOTHER vacation to get away from those crowds too.

  8. WTF January 27, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    Real nice for the USFS to further limit our access to this public land. The best plan they could come up with is to go from bad to worst. Maybe they should consider offering a free shuttle service and/or eliminate all automobile traffic during peak season like some other parks instead of reducing our access.

    • Trouble January 28, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

      Don’t listen to them wtf. I agree with you and think their main goal should be to keep open our public lands.

      • Larry January 29, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

        Inyo County has been shutting down the Death Valley Road out of Big Pine and the Saline Valley roads for years every time there is a thunderstorm washout denying people their right to access their public lands. Instead of being responsible for the roads they own they go whining to the federal government for money. Most of the time it would only take a couple of days to make the road passable but they put up a road closed signs lasting for months. Counties all over the southwest repair flash flood damaged roads as standard routine. Not here, give up those county easements and let people travel of their own free will.

        • Low-Inyo January 30, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

          Larry…I think the reason for that is,whenever there are wash-outs and flash-flood damage,the off roaders treat it as a playground,not only destructive to the land,but also as a danger to themselves and those maybe having to respond to their actions to save their butts….we all know here in Inyo County,things take longer to do and fix than it seems in other areas,but don’t think it’s a way anyone cooks up to deny or restrict anyones rights to their public land.


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