The Inyo mountains, a multi-hued, 6,000
foot wall of steep canyons and sharp ridges overlooking the Central Owens
Valley, contains many special places for those properly prepared and
appropriately equipped. A surprisingly extensive road system, most of which
was once no more than a series of rough trails pioneered by hopeful miners,
makes many parts of the Inyo’s available to explore, appreciate, and enjoy.
Only lightly visited when compared to the Sierra Nevada a few miles to the
west, this desert range offers a decidedly different, but nonetheless rich
and varied, recreation experience.
Semi-primitive motorized areas combine
solitude with self-reliance, challenge and risk in a predominately natural
environment. Few on site controls or restrictions are apparent.
Motorized use is permitted on open routes only. Driving off road is
prohibited. Visitors are encouraged to park no more than 15 feet
off-road to help limit vehicle impacts. The recently designated Inyo
Mountains Wilderness required closure of some four-wheel drive (4WD)
routes. Visitors have a responsibility to be aware of where wilderness
starts and stops as far as vehicle entry is involved. Closures are signed
and regularly monitored for compliance. Recreation opportunities include
camping, recreational driving, backpacking, day hiking, mountain biking,
horseback riding, rock hounding, photography and viewing scenery. The Inyo
Mountains contain important wildlife habitat, rich and varied plant
communities, and historical and cultural resources.
Evidence of past and present mining
activities is abundant in the Inyo’s. Permission may be required to enter
signed property. Old mine workings can be extremely hazardous and
exploring abandoned tunnels or shafts is strongly discouraged. Stay
away from vertical shaft openings. Don’t throw rocks or other materials
The Interagency Visitor Center at the
junction of Highways 395 and 136 has maps showing most roads and trails.
The Inyo National Forest map shows primary vehicle routes. Some junctions
may be signed, some routes may have road numbers to aid travel- but don’t
count on it. Many routes are steep and narrow. Pull outs and turn around
areas may not be present. Know your vehicle limitations. When in doubt,
walk the area ahead before driving it.
Mazourka Canyon Road is a popular entry
point. This road leaves Highway 395 from the south end of Independence and
is paved for a few miles before it becomes dirt. High clearance (pick-up
trucks) or 4WD vehicles are recommended for travel to Santa Rita and Badger
Hats. Some spur roads within these areas require 4WD vehicles. Fine views
of the Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra are available from these
locations. Travel north, beyond Badger Flat, requires 4WD. Papoose, Squaw
and Harkless Flats can be reached from Badger Flat or from Saline Valley
Road, east of Big Pine. Established campsites are scattered throughout all
areas except Papoose Flat. High clearance, 4WD vehicles are recommended for
these areas. Keep in mind many spur roads not shown on maps are open and
available to explore along the main route system.
Off-highway vehicle use is permitted on
routes not signed or barricaded closed. Unlicensed motorcycles must have a
California Green sticker and approved spark arrester. Green stickers are
required for All Terrain vehicles. ATV riders are required to wear a
helmet. Passengers are prohibited. Please be familiar with the regulations
covering OHV’s. You’ll have a safer and more enjoyable experience
Have a good map and know how to read it.
File an itinerary with family or friends, travel in two’s.
Carry extra water (5 gallons or more
recommended) and gasoline. Remember, no water is available in most
areas. Have food, warm clothing, a tool kit and shovel. Basic first aid
supplies are desirable.
Carefully check vehicle - fluid levels,
tire pressure and condition, belts, hoses, etc. Avoiding mechanical
failure is important.
Hikers should carry at least one gallon
of water for each day out. Water sources are few. If you locate water,
filter or boil before drinking. Camp well away from springs, wildlife
depend on these for survival.
Pack out trash and garbage, including
food items. Cans, bottles, foil and plastic don’t bum. Always try to
leave the area in better condition than you found it.
Sanitation: Use the “cathole” method of
burying human waste. Dig a hole 8 to 10 inches deep at least 100 feet
from water sources, campsites and roads. Consider packing out toilet
paper in an airtight container.
Help protect and preserve natural,
historical, and scenic values found in the Inyo Mountains and wherever else
you may venture. Leave Native American or mining artifacts as you found
them. Use existing firerings when present, and water, not dirt, to
extinguish campfires whenever possible. Tread Lightly!
Minimize the impacts of your visit.
For more information contact:
Mt. Whitney Ranger Station
640 South Main Street
P. 0. Box 8
Lone Pine, CA 93545 (760) 876-6200
Information contained herein is from a Forest Service Flyer