California’s Eastern Sierra

Rules & Regulations

Ever wonder if you could take your four legged friend along with you on a hike? Are you familiar with the food storage regulations are for day or overnight use? If not, don't worry! This page will help you navigate and familiarize yourself with all the rules and regulations in Mono County and the Eastern Sierra.

Whether you need more information on fire regulations & restrictions, bear safety or identifying a bear, we've got you covered. We also have information on overnight use vs. day use and Leave No Trace Ethics and Principles. Find out all the information you need to have safe and fun trip.

Dogs, leash laws & trails on which they are allowed

Overnight vs. Day Use

Fire Regulations & Restrictions

Bear Safety

It is important to understand that we live in a wilderness area and if you are visiting Mono County and the Eastern Sierra, you are also in those wilderness areas. Bears, Cougars, Bobcats, Squirrels, Marmots, Deer and other animals also call the Sierra's there home, and it is important for locals and visitors alike to respect these animals. Probably the most popular animal that many visitors tend to be focused on, are bears. It is important to know how to safely hike and camp around bears, in order to prevent encounters.

The goal of any wilderness area, and especially Mono County, is to keep wild animals, wild. This means that feeding, petting or touching of wildlife is prohibited. Feeding bears or other wild animals is not only extremely dangerous but detrimental to their health and well-being. Always remember, a fed bear is a dead bear.

Campgrounds and Picnic Areas

Never cook or store food in or near your tent

Keep the area clean. Make sure all foods and odors (toothpaste, deodorants, etc.) are put away in bear proof containers, such as canisters or bear boxes.

Do not keep food or other items in your car. Bears, raccoons, or other wild animals will break into your car and damage it. Remember, a fed bear is a dead bear, and they are often times the ones penalized for our mistakes. Help keep wildlife wild by properly storing all of your camping items.

Backcountry Areas

Stay on marked trails and obey regulations of the area you are hiking in. For example, if there is a closed area due to bear activity, do not enter into the area. Please obey all signed areas and use caution.

All food and other items that can attract bears must be stored in a bear proof canister. These can be rented or purchased at many local sporting goods stores.

If you encounter a bear…

Remain calm. Give the bear plenty of room and try to exit the area quietly so as not to disturb the bear and allow it to continue its activities. If the bear changes its behavior or notices you, then you are too close. Do not turn and run- simply back out of the area slowly and go around.

If a bear sees you, then make it known you are human and not a threat. Talk in a normal voice and wave your arms. Remember that a standing bear does not always mean aggression; bears often stand to get a better view.


Identifying bears

Black Bears are the only species of bear left in the state of California. Prior to the 1800's, Black Bears were accompanied by Grizzlies in the High Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Color: Black Bears are not always black in color. They can range from the traditional jet black color, to light blonde and brown. Many Black Bears have lighter patches on their chest as well.

Size: On average, Black Bears weigh between 100-300 lbs. Large males can reach 400 lbs and can be larger than a female Grizzly Bear.

Height: Black Bears are typically smaller than their Grizzly cousins with a height average of 2.5-3 feet at their shoulders and around 5 feet tall while standing.

Shape: Black Bears do not have a hump on their backs and will have a straighter line from the crest of their heads, sloping downward towards their tail.

Face: Black Bears have a straight line that runs between their forehead and the tip of their nose. They also have large, pointed ears and are less rounded than that of a Grizzly Bear.

Prints & Claws: Their claws are shorter at about 1.5 inches on average and their prints will have a large toe arc. Toe imprints will be farther apart and the claws usually don't leave an impression in the ground.

Leave No Trace Ethics

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll be visiting

Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies

Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use

Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups

Repackage food to minimize waste

Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Durable surfaces are sites like established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow. Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. Good campsites are ones that are found, not made.

Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites

Walk in single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy

Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent

In pristine areas, disperse use to prevent the creation of campsite(s) or trail(s) and avoid areas where impacts are just beginning

Dispose of Waste Properly

Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash, food or other waste. Pack out ALL TRASH and leftover food and litter.

Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.

Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.

To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts

Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them

Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species

Do not build structures, furniture or dig trenches. Leave the area as you found it, or better

Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and a candle lantern for light

Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires

Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. DO NOT cut down trees, branches, etc.

Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely and then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow, try to approach or taunt them in any way

Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers

Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely in either a bear can or at established campsites, a bear box

Control pets at all times. Do not allow them to chase or provoke wildlife. Or, leave Fido at home

Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young or winter

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience

Be courteous and yield to other users on the trail. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.

Take creaks and camp away from trails and other visitors

Let nature's sound prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises and allow others to enjoy the scenery and beauty as much as you are.

For more information on the Seven Principals and Leave No Trace Ethics, visit their Home Page.