|Backcountry Travel Tips||Environmental Information||Water Treatment|
|Waste Disposal||Food Storage|
|Trail Etiquette||Tahoe Ecology||Tahoe Geology|
Wilderness permits are required to enter wilderness areas around Lake Tahoe. For day hikes in areas that require a permit such as Desolation Wilderness, there is a self-registration kiosk. Simply fill in the permit and go. For overnight stays, however, permits are issued by the Forest Service in person at their stations or via mail. With the exception of Desolation Wilderness, which charges $5/night/adult (under 12 free), wilderness permits are free. Here is listing of where to obtain your wilderness permits.
Meiss/Carson/Iceberg Wilderness: Permits are available at three location during the summer. The Carson Pass Information Station is open May - September. There is no fee for the permit, but they have instituted a $3 per vehicle parking fee at Carson Pass. Reservations can be made in person, by phone, mail, or fax at 3070 Camino Heights Drive, Camino, CA 95709. Phone (530) 644-6048 Fax (530) 295-5624. Open 7 days a week in the summer, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with reduced hours of Thursday - Monday in the winter. Pick up your permit from one of the following stations:
Amador Ranger Station: If you are driving up Highway 88, stop at the Amador Station located 18 miles east of Jackson on Highway 88. 26820 Silver Drive, Pioneer, CA 95666 (209) 295-4251 Fax (209) 295-5998
Carson Pass: Carson Pass Information Station Highway 88 at Carson Pass (summer only, no phone)
Desolation Wilderness: Permits are available from three ranger stations. You can obtain a permit in person, through the mail, by phone, or by fax. You can make reservations up to 90 days in advance, which is not a bad idea during the summer as the 560 available spots in Desolation often fill, especially in the more popular "zones". A reservation fee of $5 is charged as well as a camping fee of $5 / adult/night. Get more information and download the application here. Even if you make reservations, you must pick up your permit in person at one of the stations. To make a reservation, contact the El Dorado National Forest Information Center at 3070 Camino Heights Drive, Camino, CA 95709. Phone (530) 644-6048 Fax (530) 295-5624 Open 7 days a week in the summer, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with reduced hours of Thursday - Monday in the winter. Pick up your permit from one of the following stations:
In Tahoe Basin:
Tahoe Basin Management Unit:
Tahoe Visitor Center:
Granite Chief Wilderness: Permits are not required at this time.
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park: No information available.
Mount Rose Wilderness: Permits are not required at this time
Toiyabe National Forest/Big Meadow Area: Permits are not required at this time.
The Tahoe environment is fragile...no big surprise there! Pour in tens of thousands of visitors each year, however, and you have a formula for environmental disaster. The Forest Service requires backcountry travelers to practice zero impact techniques in all wilderness areas around Lake Tahoe. Here are the main things to keep in mind:
The water in the lakes and streams around Lake Tahoe are cold and clear and deliciously sweet! It's hard to imagine that there are any impurities in the water at all. In fact, the water of Tahoe and many of the lakes and streams in the wilderness surrounding Lake Tahoe are indeed extremely pure, containing less particulate matter than even bottled drinking water. However, as clean as the Tahoe water is, lakes and streams in the Sierra Nevada, including those around Lake Tahoe, may contain an intestinal parasite called Giardia. This little nasty can cause serious, long-lasting intestinal problems if contracted. The parasite attaches itself to the wall of the intestine and reeks havoc with your digestion and absorption of food. It is extremely difficult and painful to get rid of as well. In fact, we have friends who contracted Giardia ten years ago and still have bouts of extreme abdominal pain. Giardia is a hardy little bugger which, in its encysted state, can withstand even moderate boiling. There are several ways to ensure your drinking water is potable: Boiling is effective if done for five to ten minutes at a hard boil. Filtering is also effective, but make sure your particular filter traps particles as small as Giardia cysts (4 microns...we think). Finally, water treatment tablets will also kill Giardia, but leave the water tasting less than pure!
Thousands of visitors come to Lake Tahoe each year to explore the wilderness or just relax away from the bustle of the city. During the summer, most lakes in the wilderness surrounding Tahoe have people camping at them every night. All these people mean lots of human waste. Human waste carries loads of disease and, lets face it, is just downright disgusting. To help ensure that the next camper is not effected by your waste, the Forest Service requites that you:
Bears are an increasing problem in Tahoe. It is not as bad as Yosemite...yet. Bears don't charge people and bear-proof containers are not required. You can help keep it that way by making sure bears NEVER get any of your food. Beside bears, smaller animals like marmots, squirrels, skunks and raccoons can become dependent on human food and also do irreparable damage to tents and packs, so it is always a good idea to hang food properly whenever possible. Food should be suspended at least 12 feet off the ground, 10feet from the trunk on a branch that is less than 4 inches in diameter using the double weighted method, not the tie-off method. Be sure to store food away from your campsite. For more information about how to live, hike, and backpack with bears, visit this US Forest Service website.
In many areas around Lake Tahoe, notably Desolation Wilderness and the Carson/Iceberg Wilderness, fires are no longer allowed. And yet, when you are out there, and the temperature drops, there's nothing like a campfire to bring warmth and cheer to your camp. But here is why you need to follow this irritating directive. Desolation Wilderness is appropriately named. It is desolate. In many places it's rock on rock with a few scrubby trees clinging desperately to the rock. Even around most of the lakes, the forest is thin and scrubby due to high winds and deep snows. Deadwood is an important part of the ecosystem providing homes and food for many insects and animal. With tens of thousands of visitors each year, the available supply of deadwood for fires in this area would be gone in no time, effectively removing that entire element from the ecosystem. In addition, before the restriction on fires, we had seen campers attack live trees when deadwood was not handy! In areas that do allow wood fires, fire permits are required. These are available when you pick up your permit. If no permit is required, you still need a fire permit to have a wood fire. Fire permits are good for the entire calendar year.
Many of the trails around Tahoe are multi-use trails which means that on any day, you might see hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, or even a motorcycle or OHV using the same trail. It is important that we all respect the legal use of the trails. Hikers are the most mobile of these groups and should give way to the other groups by stepping off the trail. For their part, the other groups should slow way down to ensure the safety of the hiker.
|Top | Hiking Index | Home|