bristlecone dispersed camp photo

Locations like this dispersed campsite in the Bristlecone Ancient Forest in the White Mountains, which is part of the Inyo National Forest, are still closed for a second week as the state-wide hard closure of all the national forests in the state drags on. The USDA Pacific Southwest Region, or Region 5, encompasses almost all of the national forests in California and is set to re-visit the closure this Friday, Sept. 17. But with fire danger still high throughout most of the state, it is unclear what the regional office's decision will be.  

Ed note: An updated list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Inyo National Forest closure and its impacts to the local area came out right after the Times went to press this week. The update came from Deb Schweizer, the forest Public Information Officer. We are printing it here in its entirety:

"We are getting a lot of questions about if the closure will be extended, Schweizer said. "Since the decision to close the Inyo was at a regional level, we can't definitely answer this. We have forwarded this concern to the region (the regional office for the Inyo is the Pacific Southwest Region, also called Region 5, and all national forests wholly within California belong to this region) so they understand that there are impacts to our visitors, be that hunting tags or flying on for coveted backpacking trips. Lots of plans and investments are impacted."

It is never an easy implement closure orders that impact locals and visitors alike for their recreation opportunities on lands managed by the Inyo National Forest, she said. "For safety reasons due to extreme fire conditions, this regional decision was made to ensure the safety of the public and local communities," she said.

The closure will be reassessed on Sept. 17 but fire danger throughout the region must subside significantly for the region to reopen the forests within the closure, she said.


                                         UPDATED FAQ

Are Inyo National Forest campgrounds closed? 

Yes, all campgrounds on the forest are closed. 

Can I dispersed camp? 

The forest closure prohibits dispersed camping and closes forest roads.

 Can I hike on trails/ climb? 

Trails are included under the closure as is climbing.

Can I fish, paddle, or boat on lakes?

Inyo National Forest lakes and streams are closed under the order.

Can I hunt? 

Not on Forest Service lands. 

What about wilderness trips? 

Any wilderness permit that originates on the Inyo has been cancelled through September 17th and we are working with our neighboring parks to inform and reroute hikers. Hikers should not knowingly start or continue a hike into a closed area.

Wilderness Permit refunds: Canceled wilderness permits should receive an automatic refund. Visitors should call the wilderness permit office if they have questions @ 760-873-2483.

What if I need to retrieve a vehicle?

The forest will allow for exceptions for forest entry for people with legitimate needs such as recovering vehicles and work-related matters.

Will the closure get extended?

Since the decision to close the Inyo was at a regional level, we can't definitely answer this. We have forwarded this concern to the region so they understand that there are impacts to our visitors, be that hunting tags or flying on for coveted backpacking trips. Lots of plans and investments are impacted.

Visitor Centers: Our visitor centers remain open, with the exception in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center, which is closed.

The Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine: Open Thursday through Monday, 8:30 am to 4:30  m. ESIA will operate the bookstore daily, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

The White Mountain Public Lands Information Center in Bishop: Virtual service, 7 days a week, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, closed for lunch noon to 1:00 pm. ESIA will continue to operate the bookstore Saturday and Sunday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center: Open to virtual services seven days a week, 8:30 am-4:30 pm, ESIA is operating the bookstore daily, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center is open Thursday through Sunday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and will close for the season on October 2nd. ESIA will operate the bookstore Thursday-Monday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Can I travel to places like Mammoth Lakes or June Lake Loop, Aspendell, etc.? Can you bike on the roads, Pine Creek, Bishop Creek, Rock Creek, Devil Postpile, etc.?

County and State roads and routes are open and not jurisdictionally affected by this order. Additionally, these towns are people’s homes and communities, and they need access to them.

However, Inyo and Mono County are closing roads that are exclusively accessing forest closure areas.

Devils Postpile Road after Hwy. 203 is a forest road and would be included in the closure.

Special use events that use these roads and which pass through Inyo National Forest lands would not be permitted during the closure.

Are National Parks open?

Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Death Valley National Parks remain open. The Devils Postpile National Monument is closed under an order that mirrors the forest closure.

Are Bureau of Land Management lands open? 

Bureau of Land Management lands are currently open, including their campgrounds, with fire restrictions.

Inyo County Campgrounds are currently open with fire restrictions.

 Are Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Lands (LADWP) open?  

LADWP lands are currently open. As a reminder, camping and fires are never permitted/allowed on LADWP land. LADWP has a planned closure on the Owens River Gorge after Labor Day

It is important to have a good map of the area to identify public lands by jurisdiction. The Visitor Interactive Map may also help you identify jurisdictional boundaries.

Bodie State Historic Park, Mono Lake Old Marina, and Mono County Parks are open.

South Tufa and Navy Beach access points are closed.

Is the Humboldt -Toiyabe National Forest open?  

Please check this link:

Does this closure apply to locals? 

The closure is for all use on the forest and there are not exceptions for locals.

Can I use closed Inyo National Forest roads and or trails to access open BLM lands or Humboldt-Toiyabe NF lands? No. They are closed.

I have a hotel or an AIRBNB in Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, Bishop, etc.? Can I still come?

The closure does not affect hotels or other rentals on private land. However, visitors should understand that many of the activities that they would normally plan in and around these communities that are on forest land will be affected by the closure.

Are there exemptions for forest permittees who are providing certain services, recreation residents, and other special use permitted activities?

Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order) may be exempted from this order. Permittees should work with their District Ranger for these exemptions. 

Hayden Cabin and Earthquake Fault are closed.

Shady Rest Park: Open per an exemption granted to the Town of Mammoth Lakes

Can I ride a bike, walk on the Lakes Basin trails? 

Visitors and residents may ride their bikes or walk on the Town of Mammoth Lakes paved multi-use path up to the Twin Lakes gate. Hiking trails and dirt bike trails are closed

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority: Refunds for online Reds Meadow Shuttle reservations will be processed by Mammoth Mountain Resorts.

How can I find out what the Air Quality is? 

AirNow’s Fire and Smoke Map details air quality, as well as fires, across the U.S. Input a location to learn more about air quality in your area:

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