Mt. Whitney Lottery Cheat Codes

Mt. Whitney Lottery Cheat Codes

Want to hike Mt. Whitney? In 2022, only 26% of applicants were able to get their first choice in the permit lottery. Here is how to maximize your chances of getting one!

Day-hike or backpack?

It’s easier to get a permit for a day-hike than a backpacking trip. There are two reasons for this. First, fewer people apply for a day-hiking permit. Second, there is a quota of 100 day-hiking permits per day for day-hikers, but only 60 permits for backpackers.


Lottery success rate of getting your first choice for a day hike


Lottery success rate of getting your first choice for a backpacking trip

Hiking Mt. Whitney in a day is possible, but it’s one of the most strenuous hikes in the United States. Expect to be on the trail for 12 to 14 hours.


Day 1
21 miles 6,600ft+ / 6,600ft-

Hike to the summit and back down with a day pack

1 night

Day 1
6 miles 3,700ft+

Camp at Trail Camp

Day 2
15 miles 2,900ft+ / 6,400ft-

Hike to the summit with a day pack. On your way down to Trail Camp, pack out and get back to the trailhead.

2 nights

Day 1
6 miles 3,700ft+

Camp at Trail Camp

Day 2
9 miles 2,900ft+ / 2,900ft-

Hike to the summit with a day pack. Come down to Trail Camp and camp there a second night.

Day 3
6 miles 3,700ft-

Hike out

When to go?

Best month

You have the best odds of getting a permit for May, June, or October. But the trail may be snow-covered during these months. Therefore, I recommend hiking in September which has good weather and a higher success rate than July or August.

Best day

The best odds of getting a permit are on Tuesdays, or Wednesdays with almost a 30% chance of getting your first choice. Avoid Fridays and Saturdays which have only a 10% chance of success.

Odds: May: 87% (chance of snow), Jun: 71% (chance of snow), Jul 34%, Aug 40%, Sep 66% (Sweet spot), Oct 98% (chance of snow)

How to apply?

  1. Enter the lottery between February 1 and March 1, 2024.
  2. Check the lottery result and confirm your permit (March 15 – April 21).
  3. Print and sign your permit.
  4. Enjoy your hike!


  • The smaller your group size the higher your chances of winning the lottery.
  • Pick a date that’s less competitive as your first choice. While you can pick up to 10 choices, most people don’t even get their first choice!

What if I don’t win the lottery?

It’s far from over, there are other ways to get a permit.

Get an unclaimed lottery permit on April 22

Unclaimed lottery permits are released on April 22, 2024, at 7 AM PT. Permits run out quickly, so make sure to log in to before 7 AM.

Snag a canceled permit

It’s common for people to cancel their permit. Luckily, you can rebook canceled permits on You can use Outdoor Status Alerts to get notified when we find canceled permits.

Hike during the off-quota season

There is no quota on the number of permits between November 2 and April 30, but expect snow and cold temperatures. Only attempt if you have mountaineering skills.

Consider other itineraries

  • Go up the Mountaineer’s Route, but only attempt if you have mountaineering skills.
  • Start from another trailhead and exit through Mt. Whitney. This is a great option if you want to get on a longer backpacking trip. You will need an Inyo National Forest permit and select “Overnight exiting Mt. Whitney”. Onion Valley is a popular trailhead to start from.

Next issue on the 25th

Never miss a permit deadline ever again!

Once a month, receive the list of top permits that are opening up

Yearly and monthly lottery success rates use data from the Forest Service’s 2022 Mt. Whitney lottery results. Weekday success rates use 2022 reservation data provided by

Photo by Ross Stone.