Each hiker in Yosemite National Park is responsible for obtaining the proper permits for hiking, backpacking and wilderness overnight stays. Trails in Yosemite may be closed when there are hidden hazards or when they are impassable due to rock fall, snow, ice, or fire. Open trails aren’t necessarily free of hazards–by entering the wilderness, you assume responsibility for your safety and must use good judgment. Trails may be snowy and very difficult to find from about November through May/June (and may have other hazards).
The Half Dome cables are up through October 14. A hiking permit is required to hike to the top of Half Dome when the cables are up. Climbing closures are in effect on several routes each year from March 1 through Aug. 1 to protect peregrine falcons.
Free wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in the Yosemite Wilderness. Permits can be obtained at the following locations.
Open 7 days/week from 8 am to 5 pm. The wilderness center offers permits, bear canister rentals, maps, and books.
Open 7 days/week 8 am to 5 pm. The wilderness center offers hiking, backpacking and wilderness permits, along with bear canister rentals, maps, and books.
The bookstore (only) is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm (may close for lunch). Open 8 am to 5 pm beginning May 10th. The information station offers visitor information, wilderness permits, bear canister rentals, and a variety of books and maps. Until May 10, wilderness permits can be obtained by self-registration on the porch of the Big Oak Flat Information Station. Please come prepared with your own allowed bear canister.
Currently open from 7 am to 9 pm. Wilderness permits are available at the entrance station along with bear canister rentals.
Unfortunately, microscopic organisms known as Giardia lambilia are present in wilderness lakes, rivers, and streams. They can cause illness (sometimes quite severe), so you should not drink from these sources without first treating the water. Your options are to boil it for three minutes, to use a chemical disinfectant, like iodine or chlorine (less effective than boiling), or to use a Giardia-rated water filter available from outdoor equipment stores, at the Wilderness Center, or from the Yosemite Store in Curry Village.
Many wilderness trips begin at elevations much higher than you may be accustomed to and then go even higher. It’s a good idea to arrive a day early to let your body adapt to the thinner air. Don’t over-exert, and drink plenty of fluids to avoid altitude sickness.
Bear resistant food canisters are required in the Yosemite Wilderness. Use a canister to store all food or scented items when left unattended. Remember that anything used in, on, or around the body is considered a food item. Whenever food or scented items are out, please keep them within arm’s reach, even while day hiking.
If a bear approaches your camp, act immediately to scare it away. Maintain a safe distance while making as much noise as possible. Throw small stones or pines cones toward the bear, being careful not to strike the bear on the head. If the bear returns, repeat. Do not attempt to retrieve food or gear from a bear until it abandons the items.
The most important part of using a bear-resistant container is what goes inside it. Make sure all food, all trash, all toiletries, and all other scented items are inside the container. This includes but is not limited to all sealed or packaged food, sunscreen, soap, mosquito repellent, lip balm, deodorant, medications, and feminine products. As a general rule, if you put it in your mouth or on your skin, it should probably be stored in a bear-resistant container.
The container only works if it’s closed and locked! Be sure to keep it closed and locked, even while you’re around your campsite. Place the container on the ground in a flat, level area 100 feet or more from your campsite. Take care not to place it near a cliff or any water source, as a bear may knock the container around or roll it down a hill. Do not hang or attach anything to the container (ropes attached to the container enable a bear to carry it away). You can place pots and pans on top of the container as a bear alarm if you like.
The best way to carry a bear-resistant container is inside your pack. Later in your trip, when you have eaten some of your food, you can place other items inside the container to conserve space.
Wilderness permit reservations (209) 372-0740
For more information about making a reservation or obtaining a permit call (209) 372-0310.
Permits: See above for information on Yosemite hiking, wilderness and backpacking permits.
Group Size: Maximum group size in the Yosemite wilderness is 15 people on trails and 8 people maximum for any off-trail travel.
Campsite Location: Please use existing campsites at least 100 feet from lakeshores and streams to minimize pollution and vegetation impact. Camp four trail-miles from Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, White Wolf, Hetch Hetchy, and Wawona, and at least one trail-mile from any other road.
Human Waste: Bury human waste six inches deep in a small hole at least 100 feet from any lake, stream, or camp area. Toilet paper should be packed out.
Garbage: Pack out all garbage (no exceptions). Do not bury garbage, scatter organic waste, or leave foil in campfire sites.
Fires: Use gas stoves rather than wood fires. Wood fires are not permitted above 9,600 feet due to firewood scarcity. Use only existing fire rings and dead and down wood in areas below 9,600 feet.
Pets: Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the Yosemite wilderness.
Soap: Putting soap, including bio-degradable soap, or any form of pollutant into lakes or streams is prohibited. Discard wash and rinse water at least 100 feet from water sources.
Firearms: Firearms are not permitted in the wilderness.