Getting Started -
on your Mt Ritter / Ansel Adams Wilderness adventure involves both getting there and getting a permit if you plan on spending the night out in the back country. Mt Ritter
is located in the Ansel Adams Wilderness
in the Sierra Nevada
Range in California. To get there, take US Highway 395 to SR203 which leads to Mammoth Lakes. Once on SR203, go past the first traffic light, and then turn right at the second light to the main lodge of Mammoth Mountain.
As with nearly all Sierra Adventures, a wilderness pass is required. I would recommend securing a permit well in advance. The Ritter/Banner peaks and especially the surrounding Ansel Adams Wilderness area is very popular with fisherman, backpackers, and climbers alike. The reason for this is due to the unsurpassed beauty in this region. For permit information Click Here
, and choose the Shadow Creek Option ID AA07.
Getting a permit in advance costs $5.00 per person plus a transaction fee of $6.00/group. Permits are free if you can apply and get one at the Ranger Station the day or the day before your entry into the wilderness. I would not recommend this option, because if there are no permits available, you will find yourself out of luck with a long drive home.
If you are there before 7am or after 7:30pm, (from November through June 20th you can get in before 8am or after 5pm)
then you can drive your vehicle all the way to the trailhead. During the daylight hours as stated above, all visitors must pay a $7 per person fee, and use the mandatory Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus. Hikers and cyclists can enter on their own, but must still pay the fee.
Vehicles arriving before or after shuttle bus operation must pay a $10/vehicle standard amenity fee at the Minaret Vista Station. Inter-agency Passes will cover the fee for after hour entries or at the time of exit. We usually enter the area before 7AM (when the fee station is closed) and end up paying the fee on our way out during normal daylight hours. In the photo to the left, you can see an image of the Minaret Vista Fee Station (elevation 9,176 feet).
If you end up using the Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus, on the return, make sure you get on the bus that is returning back to the Mammoth Ski Resort. If you get on the bus going toward Devils Postpile and other stops, you are in for a long ride. We made that mistake once, and ended up standing on the bus for about 45 minutes with our packs on, because the bus was so full there was no place to sit. After having just hiked out of the area for several miles, it wasn't so fun standing all that time with a loaded pack.