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Everything You Need to Know About the Temporary Peak Hours Vehicle Reservation System

Temporary peak hours vehicle reservations for Yosemite National Park will be required, between May 20, 2022 and September 30, 2022 to enter the park between 6 am and 4 pm in your personal vehicle.

The National Park Service has announced that a temporary peak hours vehicle reservation system will be put in place for the summer of 2022 between May 20 and September 30. Unlike previous years, this is not because of COVID-19, but due to construction projects in Yosemite National Park. This means that the restrictions will only be required during the peak visitation periods – from 6 am to 4 pm. Outside those times, you can still visit the park without a vehicle reservation/day-use pass this year.

If you’re planning a visit to Yosemite this summer, here’s what you need to know about:

Read on for the essentials of what you need to know about Yosemite reservations.

What’s New about Reservations in 2022?

Yosemite National Park has been requiring additional reservations to enter the park during the summer and other crowded times for two years now. However, each year, the system changes slightly. So, for those of you who are familiar with the previous year’s policies – make sure you’re updated on a few key changes to the reservation system this year.

  • Reservations are only required for peak-use times between 6 am and 4 pm each day. If you enter the park before 6 am, you can stay for the day. Note that there is no camping in the park outside of designated campgrounds. So, if you enter after 4 pm, you can’t just “sleep in your car” until the next morning, but you can stay as late as you want.
  • Reservations are required for all travel through the park during peak hours, even if you aren’t planning on stopping. If you plan to drive through Yosemite National Park and don’t have a reservation, just be sure to arrive at the gate before 6 am or after 4 pm.
  • All early reservations for the summer are available now. In previous years there was a complicated phased roll-out for different times. This year, it’s simpler. All reservation dates were released on March 23. A small number of reservations for each day are held and will be released 7 days before the date of travel.

Do you even need Yosemite National Park Reservations?

Before you go to the trouble of getting a temporary vehicle reservation for peak-hour day use, make sure you actually need one. Many Yosemite day-use visitors will find that they already have permission to enter the park at any time through some other reservation or permit system.

NEW for 2022: Remember, this year you also need to get a reservation if you want to drive through the park without stopping during the peak times.

Here are a bunch of ways to avoid needing to get a vehicle reservation for day use:

1. Visit before May 20 or after September 30, 2022.

If you’re planning a trip before or after the dates when the reservation system is in place, you can simply pay the entrance fee at the gate and enjoy the park. No day-use vehicle reservations are required. And there is no doubt that there is plenty to see and do in the early spring, late fall, and winter months when the park is naturally quieter.

Yosemite Valley lodging at The Ahwahnee

If you have a lodging or camping reservation inside the park, you will NOT need an additional day-use reservation. This includes hotels like The Ahwahnee (pictured), Curry Village, or Wawona Hotel, vacation rentals in Yosemite West, Wawona or Foresta, or campgrounds inside the park.

2. Make a lodging or camping reservation inside the park.

If you have an overnight reservation inside the park for lodging or camping, you will NOT need an additional day-use reservation. This includes hotels like The Ahwahnee, Curry Village, Housekeeping Camp, Wawona Hotel, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, or White Wolf Lodge, as well as vacation rentals in Yosemite West, Wawona or Foresta, or campgrounds inside the park, like Upper Pines or Hodgdon Meadow.

If you aren’t sure if the lodging reservation that you have is inside or outside the park, be sure to check with the people that you made a reservation with.

If your lodging or camping reservation is outside the park, you will need to get a vehicle reservation to enter the park during peak hours.

3. Use some form of transportation other than your personal vehicle

There are plenty of ways to get into the park without driving your personal vehicle. If that was your plan, forget about this temporary vehicle reservation for day use. You’re all set if you planned to enter the park using one of these alternative transportation options:

  • YARTS: During the summer, YARTS – the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System operates bus lines that enter Yosemite from Highway 140, 41 and 120 from the towns of Merced, Mariposa, El Portal, Fresno, Oakhurst, Sonora and Mammoth Lakes. You may even be able to get picked up right from your hotel.
  • Guided Tour: If you are arriving as part of a tour group, they will already have your permit covered. Here’s a list of tour operators that you might be interested in. Note: Attending select programs offered by a few in-park partners like The Ansel Adams Gallery or the Yosemite Conservancy also eliminates the need to get a day-use vehicle reservation.
  • If you want to hike, bike, or ride a horse into the park, you don’t need a separate reservation either.

4. NEW: Plan to enter outside of peak use times – after 4 pm or before 6 am.

Sunset lovers and night photographers rejoice! NPS heard you. This temporary restriction is designed to reduce traffic congestion during peak hours, so if you’re planning to arrive outside of these times, you don’t need to get peak hour reservations.

If you enter the park before 6 am, you can stay and enjoy the park during the day. If that’s too early, simply spend the day enjoying things to do outside Yosemite and drive in after 4 pm. At summer solstice (late June) when the sun sets around 9 pm, that’s 5 whole hours to explore the park even if you don’t get a vehicle reservation.

The regular entrance fee still applies if you enter after peak hours. Also, your off-peak pass will be valid for three days, however, it will only be valid outside of peak hours for those days.

5. Obtain one of the following

Each of these requires a different reservation or permitting process, and you won’t need to duplicate efforts with the temporary vehicle reservation as well.

Note to Annual Passholders: Day-use vehicle reservations ARE REQUIRED, but your annual National Parks pass covers the entrance fee, so make sure you look for a check box on the recreation.gov site so you only pay the $2 reservation fee and not the $35 entrance fee.

entrance gate to yosemite

You’ll need a day-use reservation for your vehicle to enter Yosemite between May 21 and Sep. 30, 2021. Make sure you get one online ahead of time at recreation.gov.

What the Vehicle Reservation is Good For

The vehicle reservation is for entry during peak hours. Getting a temporary vehicle reservation/day-use pass means you can come and go freely between 6 am and 4 pm. However, these reservations are not required for visits during off-peak hours, so for example, feel free to enjoy some of the experiences outside Yosemite until 4 pm, and then enter the park when reservations aren’t required.

The reservation is good for entry into Yosemite for vehicle access on three consecutive days. You can arrive on any of the three days that your reservation is valid for. As an example, a reservation for May 22 allows unlimited park entries on May 22, 23, and/or 24.

The day-use reservation allows one vehicle to enter the park regardless of how many people are in that vehicle. The reservation holder must be in the vehicle and prepared to show a photo ID. This helps prevent reselling reservations.

Each person can make one vehicle reservation per day. If your group must arrive in multiple vehicles, you will need multiple day-use vehicle reservations.

If you have a reservation, but can’t make the trip, please cancel. Those reservations will immediately become available through recreation.gov so someone else can get in.

How Do I Make a Yosemite Day Pass Reservation?

You’ll need a reservation to enter Yosemite by vehicle between May 20 and Sep. 30, 2022, during peak use hours. Make sure you get one online ahead of time at recreation.gov. 70% of the reservations for all arrival dates (May 20 – September 30) become available at 8 am Pacific Time on March 23.

If you don’t plan that far in advance or miss the first round, you can still get vehicle reservations seven days before you arrive, or when someone cancels their vehicle reservation.

Permits will not be available in person at the gate.

Make a Reservation

 Tips On How To Get A Yosemite Day Pass Reservation

Make the vehicle reservation online through recreation.gov – Yosemite National Park Ticketed Entry – as soon as vehicle reservations become available.

Vehicle reservations are likely to go quickly due to high demand. For the best chance to get a reservation prepare ahead of time. Create an account in advance if you don’t already have one, and be logged in and ready to make a vehicle reservation at exactly 8 am Pacific time.

If your schedule is flexible, consider that traditionally the busiest times in the park have been on the weekends. Can you schedule your trip to arrive on a Sunday through Wednesday instead of Thursday, Friday or Saturday? If you can arrive/visit mid-week, you’ll have less competition for those precious reservation slots and more chances to win one.

That’s Worth Repeating: Plan your trip for Sunday – Wednesday for your best chance at getting a pass. Temporary vehicle reservations/day use permits for mid-week visits tend to be easier to get than reservations for weekends.

 What If You Don’t Get a Yosemite Vehicle Reservation

No problem. Yosemite Mariposa County is filled with exciting options. (Pro tip: you will want to check some of these out even if you do get a vehicle reservation to enter Yosemite.)

Start early or late

Remember, for 2022 if you enter the park before 6 am you can spend the entire day exploring the park without having to get a reservation. Similarly, you can enter the park after 4pm without a reservation. During the summer months this gives you many hours to explore even if you don’t have a reservation.

There is a corner of Yosemite National Park that doesn’t require a permit.

woman at hetch hetchy reservoir

Explore Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite Valley’s quieter twin without a day-use vehicle reservation.

Explore Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite Valley’s quieter twin without a day-use vehicle reservation.

Hetch Hetchy is a water-filled twin of the majestic Yosemite Valley with soaring granite cliffs, waterfalls, and some spectacular hiking above the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The road to this area is separate from the entrance to the other regions of the park and doesn’t require a reservation. Try to arrive early though. Hetch Hetchy has limited parking.

Choose an Activity Outside Yosemite National Park

The natural scenery of the High Sierra and all of the activities that go with it don’t magically end at the park boundary.

Discover some of the many activities in Yosemite Mariposa County, that are outside of Yosemite National Park.

For even more ideas for things to do outside Yosemite, be sure to visit our list of 100 Things to Do in Mariposa County.

Get into the park without a day-use vehicle reservation.

It can be done. If, despite the many alternatives available, your heart is set on Yosemite National Park, you can still get in without a day-use vehicle reservation.

  1. Take regional transportation. YARTS busses run from all of the major gateway communities into Yosemite National Park. This affordable option even allows you to bring bikes with you in the under-bus cargo area for transportation around Yosemite Valley as needed. (Bikes are also available for rent in Yosemite Valley at Curry Village and Yosemite Valley Lodge.)
  2. Take a tour. Local tour guides know Yosemite best and provide a wide range of itineraries. Plus, letting experienced tour guides do the driving frees everyone in your group to relax and enjoy the scenery.
  3. Join Yosemite Conservancy for an Outdoor Adventure, Custom Adventure, or art class. These special programs include entry to the park for the duration of the program.
  4. Hoof it. The day-use vehicle reservations only apply to vehicle entries. If you have a lot of energy, you can walk, ride a bike, or take a horseback ride with Yosemite Trails into the park without a reservation.

Still have questions?

Visit the NPS website for more information straight from the source. Also, feel free to connect with us on social media or send us an email at info@Yosemite.com. We are here to help you plan the very best trip to Yosemite Mariposa County.

 

 

 

To explore lodging options, things to do and places to eat, visit Yosemite.com, the #1 trip planning site for vacations to Yosemite National Park and historic Mariposa County. To stay up to date, follow @YosemiteNation on social media and subscribe to our newsletter, “The Wanderer”. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for great videos on the people and places of Yosemite Mariposa County.

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