Wilderness Conditions

April 24, 2015

General Conditions

A historically dry and warm winter in Yosemite has left much of the park snow free as spring arrives. Snowline is roughly 8,500 ft, depending on the aspect, vegetation and micro-climate. For example, a forested north facing slope may still have some snow at 8,000 ft while an area of open granite on a south facing slope could be snow free at 9,000 ft. Be prepared for consistent snow coverage above 9,500 ft.

Take caution when crossing snow covered areas. Navigation can become extremely difficult as the snow obscures any sign of the trail. One can quickly become lost while traversing snow covered areas. Be prepared for cross country travel and to navigate solely with map and compass. Further hazards include postholing when walking on snow and potentially high creek crossings.

Although it may seem like summer, the weather can change abruptly. Be aware of the current weather forecast as well as monitoring the weather when you are hiking. Late season winter storms can come at anytime and bring much colder temperatures, significant snowfall or rain and strong winds. Winter storms pose a hazard to hikers.

Current Closures

Current trail closures are listed on the current conditions page.


The trail to Rancheria Falls is open only to foot traffic for an undetermined amount of time east of Wapama Falls due to a large rockfall.

Trails in Yosemite may be closed when there are hidden hazards or are impassable due to rock fall, snow, ice, or fire. Open trails are not necessarily free of hazards. By entering the wilderness, you are assuming responsibility for your safety and must use good judgment.

Wilderness Permits

Free wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in the Yosemite Wilderness. Permits can be obtained at the following locations.

Wilderness Permit Reservations

The reservation office is open for the season. Reservations are available up to 24 (168 Days) weeks ahead of your entry date.

Yosemite Conservancy staff will be available Monday to Friday to process wilderness permit reservations for this year. Fax is still the preferred method for reserving wilderness permits. The fax machine is functioning well and is receiving permit applications as fast as we can process them.

Approximately 90% of permit applications for the John Muir Trail are rejected due to too many requests for the same trailhead on the same day. John Muir Trail permits are typically for the Happy Isles and Lyell Canyon trailheads. You will receive notice on the status of your application within two business days.

Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center

Closed for the season. Self registration permits are available at the Valley Visitor Center 9 am to 5 pm daily. The visitor center also has bear canister rentals, maps, and books for sale. Will reopen May, 2015.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Closed for the season. Self registration permits are available on the front porch. No bear canisters rentals or other services are available. Visitors should come prepared with their own allowed bear canister(s). Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center will reopen in May 2015, depending on the status of Tioga Road.

Big Oak Flat Information Station

Closed for the season. Self registration permits are available on the front porch. No bear canisters rentals or other services are available. Visitors should come prepared with their own allowed bear canister(s). Big Oak Flat Information Station will reopen in May 2015.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio

Closed for the season. Self registration permits are available on the front porch. No bear canisters rentals or other services are available. Visitors should come prepared with their own allowed bear canister(s). Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio will reopen in May 2015

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station

Hetch Hetchy road hours are 8 am to 5 pm. Permits and bear canisters may only be obtained during open hours. There is no access to Hetch Hetchy beyond open hours (overnight parking is permitted in the overnight parking lot near the backpackers' campground).

Food Storage

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.

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