[Updated September 29, 2020]
Yosemite National Park’s Reservation system comes to an end on October 31. Beginning on Nov. 1, 2020, visitors to Yosemite National Park will no longer need a day-use reservation or overnight lodging reservation to enter the Park. You will simply need to pay your entrance fee at the gate or present a valid National Park Pass. Anyone planning to visit prior to October 31, will still need a reservation from Recreation.gov to enter. Read below to learn more about how to acquire a day-use reservation.
As part of a phased opening, Yosemite National Park has restricted park entry in an effort to reduce crowding and ensure that people have enough space to maintain a safe distance from others. These along with a number of increased safety measures help us all to reduce risk and keep our national park open.
There are many ways to get access to the park, and you need to make sure that you have one of these to be allowed through the entrance gates.
If you don’t have one of these reservations, you’ll need:
If you don’t get a reservation inside the park, don’t worry. Check out this list of 100 Things to Do in Mariposa County Outside the park. You’ll find something for everyone.
Limited overnight lodging and camping inside the park will be available – no additional day-use pass required when you have overnight reservations inside the park.
Anyone with an overnight lodging reservation within the park boundary will automatically have access to the park and will not need an additional day-use permit, though the $35/car entrance fee still applies.
For the initial opening, The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Valley Lodge, and half of Curry Village will be open for overnight lodging inside the park. Housekeeping Camp will remain closed. Private vacation home rentals in Wawona, Yosemite West, and Foresta will also be available, as will camping in Upper Pines, Lower Pines and North Pines campground in Yosemite Valley or at the Wawona Horse Camp. Assuming everything goes smoothly, the park will be looking to open additional campgrounds as it becomes clear that they can safely manage them.
Walk-in backpackers’ campgrounds for those with wilderness reservations are open in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Hetch Hetchy.
If you don’t have an overnight lodging reservation inside the park, apply ahead of time for a day-use personal vehicle permit to enter the park.
If you have or make overnight lodging reservations at one of the lodging areas inside the park gates – in Yosemite Valley, Wawona, Yosemite West or Foresta – you’re all set. Follow instructions provided by your lodging unit to get into the park. If not, you will need a day-use permit to drive your personal vehicle through the park gates.
Do not drive up to Yosemite hoping that you’ll get in prior to November 1. Day-use permits are available exclusively through recreation.gov. These will not be available at any of the entrance gates. Make sure to secure your permit in advance.
If you have an America the Beautiful Pass (including military, Access or Senior passes), this will continue to cover your entrance fee into the park, however, you will still need to apply for the personal vehicle day-use permit.
The goal behind these limitations is to make it possible for people to maintain the distancing guidelines even at traditionally popular attractions like Lower Yosemite Falls, Tunnel View, and Glacier Point. The initial number of personal vehicles allowed into the park is set much lower than normal summer visitation levels. The National Park Service is collecting data on park usage on a daily basis. As they gain a better understanding of how busy different spaces are, they will be able to adjust the numbers to allow as many people as they can to enjoy the park while maintaining safe conditions for visitors.
Day-use reservations are only available via recreation.gov. For an easy walkthrough on how to reserve your pass, take a look at the video below.
Beginning at 7 am Pacific Time on the first of each month, 80% of day-use reservations will be available for the following month at recreation.gov. For example, on July 1 at 7 am, day-use reservations for all dates in August will be available. These are likely to go quickly, so make sure you check right away at 7 am.
The remaining 20% will become available two (2) days ahead of the entry date at 7 am. For example, on July 1 at 7 am, day-use reservations for July 3 will be available.
Make your reservation for the first day that you plan to enter the park. The day-use reservation is only valid if you arrive on the first day of the reservation, and is good for access to the park between 5 am and 11 pm.
There is a $2 reservation fee and that is included in the $35/car park entrance fee. If you have an annual or lifetime pass, be sure to specify that so you only need to pay the $2 reservation fee. Credit cards are the only form of payment accepted for entrance fees.
You’ll be asked to show proof of your reservation and a matching photo ID at the entrance station, then you will be issued a vehicle permit to enter the park.
Each user can make one reservation per day. Reservations are valid for seven (7) consecutive days. The day-use vehicle reservation system will no longer be used when the park resumes regular operations.
If you have a wilderness permit, you will not need an additional day-use reservation to enter the park.
Normally, 60% of wilderness permits are available by reservation 24 weeks in advance, with the remaining 40% available in-person the day before the hiking start date. Wilderness centers will not be issuing permits in person this year.
This year, the 40% of permits that would normally be available first-come, first-served plus unreserved permits that were initially part of the 60% quota are instead available through a 2 week out lottery two weeks to nine (9) days in advance. For example, if you want to start hiking on August 9, you can apply for the 2 week out lottery between July 25 and July 31. It is not possible to obtain a wilderness permit reservation fewer than nine days in advance.
All permits will be emailed to reservation holders, following required permit education from wilderness rangers.
Nope. Your Half Dome permit is enough to allow you entry into the park, and you don’t need a separate day-use reservation. Yosemite National Park is honoring any permits awarded during the preseason lottery to hike on the cables to the summit of Half Dome. You can also apply to the daily lottery to get a permit 2 days before the hiking day. For example, you would apply Thursday between midnight and 1 pm PT, to get a Half Dome permit for Saturday. If you have a Half Dome permit already, also keep your eyes open for an email from NPS with more information.
Take a Yosemite Tour, without needing an additional day use reservation. Photo: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Although the park is holding off on admitting big tour buses for now, you can take a smaller tour to spend a day enjoying the park without needing an additional day-use reservation. Here are a few tour operators that we recommend:
Remember, if you plan to enter the park with a small tour operation that has a commercial use authorization, you will not need an additional day-use permit.
Accessing Yosemite using YARTS
Yosemite Area Regional Transportation (YARTS) provides free access to Yosemite Valley on a fixed schedule along several convenient routes.
YARTS connects with other intercity transportation providers including Amtrak, Greyhound, Boutique Airlines which flies into the Merced and Fresno Airports, and “The Crest” bus that runs between Reno, NV and Lancaster, CA.
Bikes are also allowed in the storage area under the bus for transportation around Yosemite Valley once you’re there – or you can rent bikes at Curry Village or Yosemite Valley Lodge.
YARTS has implemented several safety procedures to reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission. For example, masks will be required for riding YARTS, capacity is limited to allow space between passengers, and hand sanitizer will be available. You can read more about the other safety measures being taken by YARTS on their website.
The shuttle buses and in-park tours will not be running this year, including the free shuttle buses in Yosemite Valley and the ones in Tuolumne Meadows.
The free shuttle bus for the Mariposa Grove is also not operating. The Mariposa Grove is open, but you’ll need to do a little more hiking to get there. It is about a 2-mile (3.2 km) hike along the Washburn Trail to reach the Mariposa Grove Arrival Area in the lower grove.
Tioga Road reopened on June 15. However, you will still need to have a day-use reservation even if you are just planning to travel through the park without stopping.
If you are planning to visit this region, plan to be self-sufficient. White Wolf and Tuolumne Meadows Lodges, the other High Sierra Camps, and Tuolumne Meadows Campground are all closed. So are the Tuolumne Meadows Grill, store and post-office. The Tuolumne Shuttle and Tuolumne Meadows Tour and Hikers Bus are not operating.
Click here for a full list of services including hours of operation
All roads, gas stations, emergency services, restrooms, trails and viewing areas will be open. (Note: the steps on Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall is open to uphill traffic only between 9 am and 4 pm. To descend, you’ll need to keep going uphill to Clark Point and then down the John Muir Trail. Be prepared for a longer hike.)
Yosemite Valley stores like the Village Store and Mountain Shop will be open, as well as The Ansel Adams Gallery. Limited sales will be available outside of the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center as well. The Wawona Store, Glacier Point store, and El Portal Market are also open. The privately-owned Pine Tree Market in Wawona is open.
Food services will also be open in Yosemite Valley and at Glacier Point.
Visitor centers, the Yosemite Museum, Happy Isles Art and Nature Center, and Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center are closed. Stop by the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza, Valley Visitor Center, Big Oak Flat Information Station, and Tuolumne Meadows to get information from rangers and park volunteers.
Most areas of the park are open with some modifications. Due to public health and safety concerns, some locations and facilities are closed.
Open with modifications:
Regardless of the changes within the park, Mariposa County is an easy, low-stress getaway, featuring wide-open spaces and plenty of fresh air. Consider visiting the Yosemite region outside of Yosemite National Park. You could strike it rich discovering some of the nearby gold panning sites and history. Camp down by the water at Lake McClure and Lake McSwain, or enjoy splashing through the waves on a river rafting adventure. Or simply take advantage of the peace and quiet to gaze at the stars and dream.
Tourism Bureau Information: The Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau is here to help. For questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page, @YosemiteNation. Send us a message and we will respond to you as soon as possible.
Mariposa County Visitors Center Information: The Mariposa Visitors Center is currently closed, but anyone with questions during normal business hours can speak directly to a Visitor Center staff member by calling (888) 425-3366 or (209) 966-7081 if calling locally.
Yosemite National Park Service: The National Park Service also has created an incredibly in-depth FAQ about how COVID-19 will affect your visit to Yosemite. Find the information you need to contact that Park Service directly.