If you want to take on Mt. Whitney this year, the lottery is now open on Recreation.gov. In the past, the Inyo National Forest handled the permits. Recreation.gov handles most of the wilderness permits now, including Desolation Wilderness, which is West of Lake Tahoe, North of Hwy.50. No permits are required in the Mt. Rose Wilderness area, North of Lake Tahoe on the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the lower 48 states, 14,497 feet. There are two types of permits, overnight, and day hike. The application process ends March 15. Permits cost $15 dollars, plus a $6 dollar handling fee.
If you plan on visiting any designated wilderness area, you can visit Wilderness.net to learn trail tips, as well as the rules and regulations. The lack of snow so far means high country hiking season will start early.