An alternate solution to get a JMT permit

Getting a permit to hike the JMT can be a hard problem, but there are options available

This summer, my friends and I will be hiking the John Muir Trail (JMT). We prefer to hike it Southbound and summit at Mt.Whitney at the end. JMT is a rolling lottery and is very hard to get a permit Southbound. Last year, I signed up for 21 days and did not get a permit.

The bottleneck leaving Yosemite is Donohue Pass. The alternate solution to this is a walk-in permit. Walk-in permits are available from Lyell Canyon trailhead. Donohue Pass is only 13.3 miles from Tuolumne Meadows. You miss most of Yosemite National Park anyway. This allows us to explore other options.

If you are willing to break down JMT into two sections, i.e, from just outside Yosemite to Whitney Portal and the section of Yosemite separately, it is relatively easier to get the permit.

One of the primary entry points is Rush Creek. Rush Creek is 40 miles from Happy Isles. To reserve, go to and search for Inyo National Forest - Wilderness permits.

Make sure you select “Overnight Existing Mt. Whitney” under permit type. Choose trail head Rush Creek AA05, exiting Whitney Portal. We chose 21 days as the length and got a permit.

Then, two days after you think you will be done with this section, reserve another permit AA05 from Rush Creek to Happy Isles. For this section, choose permit type as “Overnight”. You can get a second permit from Rush Creek to Happy Isles, it is a 50 mile hike but you complete the whole trail.

Note that you can apply the same process for a different trailhead such as Devils Postpile (AA10 and AA15).