Inyo National Forest partially reopens

Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

The Inyo National Forest partial reopened parts of the forest on Oct. 3, including most areas outside of officially designated Sierra range Wilderness areas.

The reopening included campgrounds that were not already closed due to seasonal closures, resorts, lakes, trails and other facilities and recreation opportunities NOT IN WILDERNESS areas. Non-Wilderness areas are commonly called the “front country” part of the Inyo, with the Wilderness areas called the “back country.”

The White Mountain and Inyo Mountain Wildernesses are also now open.

The main exception to the front country reopening is that the entire Reds Meadow area, including the Devils Postpile National Monument, will not open again this year. The road to Reds Meadow is now closed with a locked gate near Minaret Vista.

Another exception is some front and backcountry areas involved in the huge SQF Fire, which is still actively burning west of Lone Pine in the Golden Trout Wilderness and other parts of the Inyo near Kennedy Meadows and Monache Meadows. The fire still too dangerous to allow access, according to the Inyo.

Another exception is the Navy Beach and South Beach area, which burned in a fire earlier this fall.

The reopening, even partial, was a welcome change to many in the southern and central Eastern Sierra which is almost completely reliant economically on the forest during the summer and fall months. The forest had been closed to all use for much of September, along with all Southern California national forests, due to extremely high fire danger and due to the Creek Fire, which is still burning inside of parts of the Inyo, specifically in the Ansel Adams Wilderness on the west slopes above Reds Meadow.

According to the forest, here are the specifics:
• Wildernesses in the Inyo Mountains and the White Mountains, front country dispersed areas throughout the forest, developed sites, resorts, and recreation resident cabins.
• Developed recreation campgrounds will re-open. However, many campgrounds will remain closed due to end of season operations or because they are within closed areas.
• Open campgrounds: Aspen, Lower Lee Vining, Hartley Springs, Glass Creek, Big Springs, Oh Ridge, Twin Lakes, Silver Lake, New Shady Rest, Convict, French Camp, Four Jeffery, Sabrina, Bitterbrush, Upper Sage, Lone Pine, and Whitney Portal.
Closed campgrounds near Mammoth: Tioga Lake, Junction, Moraine Saddlebag Lake, Saddlebag Lake Group, Sawmill Walk-in, Ellery Lake, Big Bend, Obsidian Flat Group, Upper Deadman, Lower Deadman, Aerie Crag, Reversed Creek, Gull Lake, June Lake.
• Closures: The Inyo National Forest within Madera County remains closed. The most common destinations are Reds Meadow Valley and the Devils Postpile National Monument. This area remains closed due to the Creek Fire to the west.
• Forest Closure 05-04-51-20-17 remains in effect and closes areas, including Monache Meadows, due to the SQF Complex (Castle Fire).
• Forest order 05-04-54-20-15 remains in effect and includes Navy Beach and the South Tufa Area.
• The Inyo portions of the South Sierra, Golden Trout, John Muir, Ansel Adams, Owens River Headwaters, and Hoover Wilderness Areas remain closed through Dec. 1, 2020.This closure may be rescinded or extended as needed. Many of the Inyo’s trail networks lead into active fire areas that are closed and that are managing complex and difficult fires.
Fire restrictions are in effect.
• Propane and gas stove use are now permitted in developed recreation sites in National Forests in California. Developed recreation sites are defined as areas that have been improved or developed for IF recreation such as campgrounds and day use sites.

• The Inyo recommends going online to the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association at
• Visitor Centers are closed, but visitor questions are being answered via phone. Call daily between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.: 760-876-6200 or 760-876-6222.