John Muir Pack Trips

California USA: (RTCA03)

California USA
You are invited to experience the natural beauty that John Muir fought to save and spend a precious few days in a special kind of paradise!

Get away from the city life for a few days and take your family, sweetheart or best bud to enjoy a short, but most memorable wilderness pack trip into the High Sierras of magnificent California. Explore the vast areas of the John Muir Wilderness Park throughout the glorious summer days; discover deep canyons, lush meadows, impressive snow-capped mountains and the hundreds of intricate alpine streams and lakes. This is the largest wilderness region of California, located in the prime central of Sierra Nevada and it encompasses more then one-half million acres within the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. Elevations range from 5,000 to the incredible 14,495 feet of Mt. Whitney. The wilderness here was named after John Muir, a dedicated preservationist and activist, who referred to the Sierra Nevada as "the most beautiful of all the mountain chains." 


These are pack trips and all nights are spent camping (camp locations vary depending on the program chosen).

We have a wide variety of tents available (single, double, or family), so please let us know what type you prefer if you have not already. There is a solar shower and privy with toilet seat and tent at the campsite. There is no generator on our trips -- no electrical source is available.
We do not provide ground mats or sleeping bags, so you must bring your own! 

All meals are included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on the last day.

Food is typically sourced from local establishments. We strive to provide a deluxe dining experience and tailor our menus to reflect the tastes of our guests. We prepare breakfast and dinner.

A hot breakfast is prepared fresh each morning. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and salads are available at lunch and dinner each day.
Lunch is a build-your-own affair, typically completed before breakfast is served. Sandwich makings, fruits, and snacks are available for you to create your own take-along meal.
Each dinner has a different entrée (beef, chicken, pork, etc).

Alcohol is not included in this trip, but guests are free to bring their own.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to vegetarians with prior notice.

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.


Riding experience is considered when fitting you for a mount. There are plenty of horses and mules to choose from to fit your expertise. All trips go at a walk. Our crew will help you get comfortable before we leave the pack station. We ride as few as 2 hours or as many as 6 hours in a day.

Approximately 130 horses and mules are the backbone of the operation. Pack mules carry the provisions for trail riders, hikers, and those wishing to have their gear packed to a wilderness campsite. Mules typically carry 150-240 pounds of equipment, food and dunnage and work from June through September. During the off season, livestock graze fields in the Owens Valley.
Horses and mules come to the pack station as four to five year old green broke. After a couple of years of training they spend up to another twenty to twenty-five years working in the Sierra.

You are encouraged to bring your own saddle if you have one. However, if your tack doesn't fit our stock, or we deem is unsafe, you will not be able to use it.

Each year young men and women bring youth and enthusiasm to a crew of senior packers and cooks. Most of the crew come from ranch backgrounds and once they start packing with us, they have a hard time ever leaving. Every member of the crew carries on the traditions of the talented men and women who started the business in the 1940s. New employees learn the trails, traditions, and develop skills to serve another generation of guests. Only the most able, hard working and those with exceptional people skills succeed as staff.


Each of the different departure dates will have their own specific itinerary, but all of them will follow the guidelines below:
- Your arrival and meeting at the Pack Station will be for 7:00am of Day 1 and most rides start at 7:30am. On the last day of the trip, a van takes you back to the pack station, generally around 4:30pm to 6:00pm.
- On the longer itinerary there are layover days where you can ride and explore the area from camp. Most of our camps also have opportunities for fishing during the day.-
Because the trip starts in the early morning, we highly recommend you make arrangements for an extra overnight in a local hotel the night before to experience minimum stress when finding the pack station and arriving on time.

4 Day Trip, AP Hilton Lakes Ride from Rock Creek -
Click here for more info
Be among the first of the season to enjoy the beauty of nearby Hilton Lakes, on this four-day trip we camp near Davis Lake, the largest lake in the area. There will be time for you to explore the upper lakes and the meadows below the Basin on horseback.

4 day Trip, AP Fourth of July Ride from Rock Creek- Click here for more info
Celebrate the 4th of July by starting out on a four-day trail ride to Davis Lake or Lake #2. Fishing is great, with day rides to Turk Meadows, Lower Hilton Creek and the Upper Hilton Lakes.

4 day Trip, AP Cottonwood Lake
Meet at Horseshoe Meadow and travel to our camp at Cottonwood Lake. We will have day rides from the camp. Return to Horseshoe. Outstanding Golden trout fishing!

5 Day Trip, AP Golden Trout
The route begins at Horseshoe Meadows and continues to South Fork Kern, then travel to our campsite near Golden Trout Creek below Tunnel Meadows. Layover days allow for rides to Little Whitney Meadows, South Fork of the Kern in Templeton/Ramshaw Meadows and options to ride to Kern Peak and Big Whitney Meadows. On the last day, we ride back to Horseshoe Meadows.

5 Day Trip. John Muir Trail (not offered in 2022 & 2023) - Click here for more info
This is a leisurely trip with a base camp near Mono Creek and Hopkins. Travel through scenic subalpine basins and enjoy a forested camp every night beneath the stars. An excellent introductory trail ride for first-time guests or those with only a few days vacation. The wildflowers are in full bloom and hopefully we will see deer, marmots, coyotes and a multitude of High Sierra birds.

3 Day Trip, AP Parent and Child Ride from Rock Creek- Click here for more info
We invite you and your child to join us for three days of riding, fishing and camping. Learn how to care for your horse and enjoy comfortable camping. A wonderful experience for those who enjoy meeting others with similar interests.

3 Day Trip, AP Labor Day Special
A leisurely trail ride to the lakes and streams of the East Fork of Rock Creek. Our camp at Dorothy Lake provides easy access to Catherine, Buck, Francis, Deer and Dam lakes. The Tamarack Basin provides alternating forest, meadows and streams - ideal for those seeking wilderness seclusion without a long ride to camp.

3 Day Trip, AP Fall Colors Special
A leisurely trail ride to the lakes and streams of the East Fork of Rock Creek. Our camp provides easy access to Catherine, Buck, Francis, Deer and Dam lakes. The Tamarack Basin provides alternating forest, meadows and streams - ideal for those seeking wilderness seclusion without a long ride to camp.

3 Day Trip, AP Dorothy Lake Trail Ride (not offered in 2022 & 2023) 
A leisurely trail ride to the lakes and streams of the East Fork of Rock Creek. Camp at Dorothy Lake gives easy access to Catherine, Buck, Francis, Deer and Dam lakes. The alternating forest, meadows and streams of the Tamarack Basin makes this the ideal trip for those seeking wilderness seclusion without a long ride to camp.

4 Day Trip, AP Hoover Lakes
Riders will depart from scenic Green Creek, and return there, riding up to East Lake. Enjoy great fishing and the secluded wilderness. The Hoover Lakes Basin is known for its beautiful lakes and unique Eastern Sierra landscape.

4 Day Trip, AP Mulkey Meadows Trail
Explore the Golden Trout Wilderness with a loop heading over Trail Pass into the meadows and stringers of the Kern Plateau. This is a secluded wilderness area with vast meadows and trails to explore. We make a loop with camps at Little Whitney and Big Whitney Meadows crossing both Barringer and Cottonwood Passes.

Note: This tour is operating under permit with the USDA Forest Service through Special Use Permit on the Inyo National Forest.

Rates and Dates for John Muir Pack Trips

Rates include:

Tent accommodations, All meals & guided pack trip
Saddle bags are provided

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    20245 days - Golden Trout Pack Trip$1425
  • B
    20244 days - Hilton Lakes Pack Trip$1155
  • C
    20244 days - Cottonwood Lake Pack Trip$1250
  • D
    20244 days - Hoover Lakes Pack Trip (rate TBA)$0
  • E
    20244 days - Fourth of July Special$1200
  • F
    20243 days - Labor Day Special$825
  • G
    20243 days - Fall Colors Special$990
  • H
    20243 days - Parent & Child$875
  • I
    20244 days - Mulkey Meadows Trail$1200

Tax 1: 2 % Tax 2: 8 %

Rates Note:

2% charge for USFS fee 8% charge for regulatory taxes $15 Wilderness Permit Fee (mandatory)

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy
Tax: 2 %   additional Tax: 8 %

Rates Note:

2% charge for USFS fee 8% charge for regulatory taxes $15 Wilderness Permit Fee (mandatory)

Transfer and Other Charges:

2024 Meet on Day 1 at set times according to itinerary $0
2024 Wilderness Permit Fee (mandatory) $15

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
B 2024 06/20 - 06/23 4d / 3n 4 days - Hilton Lakes Pack T... 2 /12 Reserve
H 2024 06/21 - 06/23 3d / 2n 3 days - Parent & Child 2 /12 Reserve
A 2024 06/24 - 06/28 5d / 4n 5 days - Golden Trout Pack T... 2 /12 Reserve
B 2024 06/27 - 06/30 4d / 3n 4 days - Hilton Lakes Pack T... 2 /12 Reserve
H 2024 06/28 - 06/30 3d / 2n 3 days - Parent & Child 2 /12 Reserve
E 2024 07/04 - 07/07 4d / 3n 4 days - Fourth of July Spec... 2 /12 Reserve
I 2024 07/04 - 07/07 4d / 3n 4 days - Mulkey Meadows Trai... 2 /12 Reserve
H 2024 07/05 - 07/07 3d / 2n 3 days - Parent & Child 2 /12 Reserve
A 2024 07/08 - 07/12 5d / 4n 5 days - Golden Trout Pack T... 2 /12 Reserve
B 2024 07/11 - 07/14 4d / 3n 4 days - Hilton Lakes Pack T... 2 /12 Reserve
H 2024 07/12 - 07/14 3d / 2n 3 days - Parent & Child 2 /12 Reserve
C 2024 07/13 - 07/16 4d / 3n 4 days - Cottonwood Lake Pac... 2 /12 Reserve
F 2024 08/31 - 09/02 3d / 2n 3 days - Labor Day Special 2 /12 Reserve
G 2024 09/21 - 09/23 3d / 2n 3 days - Fall Colors Special 2 /12 Reserve
G 2024 09/28 - 09/30 3d / 2n 3 days - Fall Colors Special 2 /12 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Sleeping bag and mat, Alcoholic Drinks, Fishing equipment and license, Gratuities, Taxes & Wilderness Permit Fee ($15 mandatory)

Other Info
Meeting: Pack Station/ Cottonwood
Airport: Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH)
Transfer: --

                                                Bishop area














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Source: NOAA

Weather in the mountains can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. You should be prepared for ALL types of weather year round! And keep in mind that it can get quite cold at night, even when hot in the day time! Even in May and into the beginning of June, it can get down to 45-50° F at night, while in the daytime it can reach 70-80° F and be very beautiful and sunny!

The elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. Sierra summers are typically warm and dry. However, clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity!  July and August are normally the warmest months.

What To Bring:
Information on What to Pack
Dunnage limit is 30 lbs. per person (this includes sleeping bags,liquor, etc.). There will be a surcharge of $3 to $10 per pound on dunnage in excess of the 30 lbs. Bring personal belongings in stout canvas or nylon duffels, ideal size approximately 14" x 32". It is a good idea to use a large plastic bag INSIDE of the duffle to protect contents from external moisture. Sleeping bags can be in separate duffels. Attach name to dunnage, camera, canteen, etc. Tent provided, however, you may bring your own private tent if under 10 pounds, which is not included in 40lbs weight limit. 

You provide your own alcoholic beverages (if desired). When possible, it is a good idea to transfer alcoholic beverages to sturdy plastic bottles with well fitting caps - it will save weight and protect against breakage. Place all cosmetics, soaps, medications, etc into small plastic containers with close-fitting caps, THEN into sturdy resealable plastic storage bags. If anything breaks or bursts from altitude changes, the plastic bag will contain the spill. 

You will be given a small saddle bag that goes on your saddle horn to carry your lunch and a few personal items. (Weight limit 3 lbs - including lunch). Please do not bring your own saddlebag unless it is pocket size. We have helmets to borrow. Please let us know at time of booking.

Remember - try to minimize the weight of your dunnage by packaging only the amount of any item you will need (like soaps, lotions, and medications).

Recommended Items
- Sleeping bag with a comfort range of 20 to 60 degrees and a moisture proof ground cloth.
- Air mattress or small 1/4"-1/2" foam hip pad recommended - your night's rest will affect your next days enjoyment. Bring the best sleeping pad you can manage.
- Broad-brimmed hat is essential for protection from sun at high altitude. It must have strings to keep from blowing off.
- Sunglasses (RX glasses) - high altitude sun is BRIGHT!
- Coffee mug (plastic for camp)
- Pint water bottle for your horn bag
- Pocket knife or small multi-tool
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Camera and film (sturdy strap)-- if using digital - don't forget an extra battery and card
- Rain jackets and pants or slicker (rolled up you can tie them to the back of your saddle)
- Hat protector (to keep your hat dry)
- Light jacket (windbreaker)
- Wool or fleece pullover/sweater (layers will keep you comfortable)
- Heavy jacket
- Bandana
- Woolen cap (evenings can be cold)
- Gloves (recommend gloves for riding, you may want warm gloves for evenings)
- Socks
- Riding boots
- Shoes for camp (moccasins, athletic shoes, etc)
- Shirts and pants (long sleeved shirts offer sun, bug and branch protection)
- Underwear
- Bathing suit
- Bath towel/wash cloth/soap (try a multi-use bar or liquid for use on hair, body and laundry. Biodegradable choices are available.)
- Insect repellent such as Cutters
- Toothbrush/toothpaste
- Comb/brush clips/pins/ponytail holders
- Shaving kit (a small mirror is helpful)
- Sun Screen (lotion, cream or stick)- use liberally for sunburn and chapping prevention.
- Chapstick with sun protection SPF 15 or better
- Moisturizer (cream or lotion - altitude and sun can be dry and chap skin)
- Prescription medicine (if required - if you have any allergies, remember to bring appropriate medication)
- Band-aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, eye drops, moleskin for any blisters
- Baby powder/Talcum powder (helps to relieve any raw or irritated areas from boots, clothes or saddles)
- Kleenex
- Jogging suit (sweats are comfortable for after-swim and campfire lounging)

Optional Items
- Small notepad and pencil
- Collapsible plastic wash basin
- Liquor (be sure to check in with the packers to see that your liquor is packed safely) 
-Fishing equipment (optional)  ◦CALIFORNIA FISHING LICENSE. Please note that fishing licenses are NOT available at or near the pack station. Be sure to get one BEFORE you arrive for your adventure. You can find information on California fishing licenses and online purchase at You can purchase them at a Bishop sporting goods store, as well.
◦ Rod/reel/line (a rod that breaks down into 3 or more pieces is recommended)
◦ Compact metal rod case to carry on saddle
◦ Canvas creel (no tackle boxes)
◦ Leader material (1-3 lb.)
◦ Flies: black gnat, mosquito, grey hackle, brown hackle, & royal coachman (No. 12-14 hooks)
◦ Bait: worms & Pautzke red eggs
◦ Egg hooks, worm hooks (No. 10-14)
◦ Split shot
◦ Lures (personal choice)
◦ Pliers