The Whitney portal campground is the place most hikers opt to stay before attempting a hike. Given the distance of the walkup trail and the fact that most hikers do it in a day, an early start is a necessity. Many hit the trail by 3:30 a.m. which is not the preferred time to make the 8 mile drive from Lone Pine up to the 8,300 foot base of the mountain. Also, since it is 8,300 feet, this is a good place to acclimatize before venturing into thin air, so to speak.
Reservations must be made 5 days in advance. I included the website for campgrond reservations below. The campground generally fills up months in advance. Many hikers opt to sleep in their cars at portal, in order to spend a night at 8,000 plus feet, as opposed to staying in lower elevation Lone Pine. I wish we'd done this, although I don't think its permitted to car camp up here.
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