Lyell Canyon below Donohue Peak
This page details the most current Yosemite Info. Yosemite National Park is one of the most well known national parks, and can often be VERY crowded. But at the same time, Yosemite is a huge expanse of remote wilderness that very few people ever see. There remains an incredible “high sierra” experience just up the road from the crowds yet within easy striking distance.
As of June, 2023, you are NO LONGER required to have a reservation to drive into the park.
- However, on some weekends in 2023, you might need a reservation to enter the park.
- Reservations will not be required to visit Yosemite National Park during the summer of 2023. Reservations were required in the summers of 2020 and 2021, and in summer 2022 when numerous key visitor attractions were closed for critical infrastructure repairs.
- Yosemite has been plagued with congestion for decades. Here is a public engagement LINK.
- You can always visit the Hetch Hetchy area of the park when it is open (8 am to 5 pm) with very few visitors.
Check out our Central Sierra Trail Map that will allow you plan remote adventures across this entire region.
There are a huge array of trails traversing the glacial highlands, and connecting to many points beyond. In addition there is a solid network of lower elevation trails that would be best enjoyed in the late spring or early fall. Water is plentiful in this area, but can become scarce in the lower elevations by the end of summer. The area that borders the Ansel Adams Wilderness contains the very best of the trails in Yosemite. Otherwise you can enter from the Northeast at Lee Vining and (Hwy 120 over Tioga Pass), or from the southwest near El Portal (Hwy 140) or Fish Camp (Hwy 41). If you’re really up for adventure, you can enter via Hetch Hetchy and access the remote trails of northern Yosemite National Park.
Wilderness Permits are required for all overnight backpacking starting in Yosemite and are available from the National Park Service. These permits cannot be used for campgrounds, day-hiking or any other lodging. Peak back-country season is summer and early fall, when most of the area is snow-free. Permits can be hard to get during these times, and usually require 6 months of advance notice for the most iconic spots. 60% of permits become available by lottery starting at exactly 24 weeks before your trip start date via Recreation.gov.
In 2022, the remaining 40% was released on a first-come, first-served basis on recreation.gov seven days in advance of the start date at 7am (PDT). This process is still to be determined for the 2023 permit season.
**October 2022 to April 2023** Most of Yosemite is covered in snow during winter. Before planning a wilderness trip during this time, please ensure you’re prepared for winter conditions.
From November through April, wilderness permits are still required. You can get a wilderness permit the day before or day you intend to start your hike at the permit issuing station nearest the trailhead. While trailhead quotas are still in effect, most trailheads don’t fill up. Bear canisters are only available for rental at the Valley Visitor Center.
Given the popularity of Yosemite trailheads there are other options just outside the park (to the east near Tioga Pass) that are always available. While they do require permits from Inyo National Forest, there are no quotas, meaning they are always available. Some examples are Saddle Bag Lake, Lundy Canyon and Warren Fork. You can also experience the Yosemite back-country by starting a trip in one of the neighboring wilderness areas and either traversing or ending your trip in Yosemite, since you only need a permit from the agency where your trip starts. But of course, special rules always apply for camping near the Yosemite Valley or any highly trafficked area.
Current as of 06/01/2023
How does the Yosemite reservation lottery work?
The lottery application period is seven days (Sunday through Saturday each week). You can specify up to eight options on each application, which can include any combination of dates (or valid date ranges), trailheads, and group sizes.
During the application period, you can apply any time from midnight Sunday to 11:59 pm Saturday Pacific time. When you apply during the application period has no effect on your chances of success.
Recreation.gov will randomly select applications and then run through each option in the order they were added until the application is successful or until it has determined space is not available for any options. Although the application process has changed, Yosemite Conservancy wilderness staff still reviews all permits to ensure the applicant is complying with wilderness regulations. Please pay close attention to your application status, as Yosemite Conservancy staff may contact you to fix errors on your application.
What happened to the John Muir Trail (JMT) lottery?
There is no longer a separate process for JMT through hikers. This new system replaces both reservation systems and is the only system for reserving wilderness permits for trailheads in Yosemite.
How have first-come, first-served walk-up permits changed for Yosemite?
For 2022, 40% of trailhead quotas will be released on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov seven days in advance at 7 am PDT. The fee is $10 per group (permit) and $5 per person during the reservation season..
From November through April each year, wilderness permits will be available as usual, without reservations or fees, at designated self-registration stations.
How will the Donohue Pass exit quota work?
An additional quota applies to backpackers exiting the park on the John Muir Trail over Donohue Pass. This quota is not changing under this system, but how it works is changing. Permits with a Donohue Pass exit will only be available for those with a permit for Happy Isles past LYV (Donohue Pass eligible) or Lyell Canyon (Donohue Pass eligible). If you want to include Donohue Pass (or beyond) in your trip, your entry trailhead must be one of these two trailheads.
The quota for Donohue Pass exits remains at 45 people:
- Lyell Canyon trailhead (Donohue Pass eligible): Permits for 30 people (18 by reservation, 12 first-come, first-served one day in advance).
- Happy Isles past LYV (Donohue Pass eligible): Permits for 15 people (9 by reservation, 6 first-come, first served one day in advance).
These are the only two trailheads that provide access to the full John Muir Trail beyond Yosemite.