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JMT Flight advice
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Allen Butts
(butts0989) - F - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies
JMT Flight advice on 01/19/2012 12:00:25 MST Print View

So I will be doing a YoYo combining the JMT and the SHR this summer but I havent decided which way i would like to hike it yet. Whichever place I start at is the same place I will be ending at. So where are the best places to fly into 1. Yosemite and 2. Mt. Whitney...?

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: JMT Flight advice on 01/19/2012 12:58:39 MST Print View

Unless you're going to charter a plane, I think there are only scheduled flights into Mammoth Lakes (100 miles north of Lone Pine) or Inyokern (70 miles south of Lone Pine).

A question I don't know the answer to: Do you need two Whitney Zone permits for the in and out if starting and returning to Mount Whitney / Lone Pine?

You can't fly into Yosemite Valley, but you can fly into Fresno and catch a bus or hitchhike from there. Merced would be another, smaller option.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: JMT Flight advice on 01/19/2012 13:12:37 MST Print View

To start at Mt Whitney, fly into Reno. Catch the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (formerly CREST and now known as ESTA) bus right outside baggage claim at 1:30 pm Mon, Tues, Thurs, or Frid. It will take you to Bishop at about 6:45 pm where you will transfer to the waiting ESTA bus to Lone Pine, arriving there about 7:40 pm. There is a cooresponding route from Lone Pine to Reno airport. The schedules are at

Stay overnight at the Mt Whitney Hostel or the much more expensive Dow Villa Motel. It's an easy hitch to Whitney Portal, or the hostel folks might take you - they are a satellite of the Whitney Portal Store. Unfortunately, this means you have to climb the steep eastern side of the Sierra with a full pack.

Since you are looping, I'd suggest starting from Yosemite Valley and going south. Leave your pack in camp at Guitar Lake, climb Whitney and return with just a day pack, grab your gear and head north back to Yosemite Valley. You can fly into several airports, catch a CAL-TRANS train to Merced, and a bus to YV.

Edited by wandering_bob on 01/19/2012 13:15:37 MST.

Allen Butts
(butts0989) - F - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies
jmt flight on 01/19/2012 13:25:23 MST Print View

Awesome thanks so much bob and david that really helps!

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
JMT Flight on 01/19/2012 18:11:21 MST Print View

Mammoth Lakes now has decent flight schedules (lots of flights in winter but still some in summer). If you're doing a yo-yo and don't care abou starting at the beginning of the trail it is the closest airport to the JMT. You might find prices and time savings make it very attractive. There's also daily bus service from Mammoth to both Yosemite Valley and Lone Pine.

Regarding permits- if you start from within Inyo NF you will need a Whitney Zone permit if you plan to hike down to Whitney Portal. You don't need the Whitney Zone permit if you stay on the JMT because you remain in Sequoia NP. You also don't need the Whitney zone permit if you start from outside Inyo NF. (Starting from Sequoia or Yosemite.

Or at least those were the rules 2 years ago. I'm pretty sure you can exit the wilderness, spend one night in town, and head back up on the same permit.

Edited by jimqpublic on 01/19/2012 18:18:59 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: JMT Flight on 01/19/2012 18:16:23 MST Print View

or you can pay for a shuttle to Yosemite Valley too...costly though as it is a regular taxi....BTW he drives real fast so you get some adrenalin fixes

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
JMT Flight on 01/19/2012 19:39:57 MST Print View

Thanks, Jim. I had forgotten about the YARTS (Yosemite Area Rapid Transit System) bus between Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite Valley, which also stops at the Tuoumne Meadows store/PO/grill enroute. We took it one year. The only disadvantage is the timing of the scheduled departure from Mammoth Lakes (about 8:00 am), which forces you to stay overnight in ML, which can be expensive. See the schedule for the Hwy 120E/395 Route at

You can still fly into Reno and take ESTA to Mamnmoth Lakes. ESTA uses the same bus stop (at McDonalds) as does the YARTS bus. There is a very nice Shilo Inn right next door with rooms in the $125/night range.

Going home from Yosemite Valley Visitors' Center at the end of your loop, take the 5:00 pm YARTS bus back to Mammoth Lakes at 8:51 pm, stay overnight, and catch ESTA to Reno airport the next morning. Be advised, there is only ONE YARTS bus per day in each direction.

Be advised, advance reservations are strongly urged for both YARTS buses as they are the only source of public transport for Yosemite Valley workers to and from ML, so they are usually full, especially at 5 pm. No reservation? It's whoever gets to the bus door 1st until it's full. People in YV don't just line up - they charge enmass. YMMV.

As an aside, the YARTS bus actually STARTS it's route at the Mammoth Mountain Inn (where the Reds Meadow shuttle buses start and end) at 8:00 am. Useful if timing forced you to end your trip at Reds Mdw for some reason.

Edited by wandering_bob on 01/19/2012 19:52:45 MST.