Wilderness Conditions

May 28, 2015

General Conditions

A series of winter like storms in the last few weeks have left snow in the higher elevations despite a historically dry and warm winter in Yosemite. However, much of the lower elevations are snow free. The rough snowline in the park is 10,000 ft depending on the aspect, vegetation and micro-climate. For example, a forested north facing slope may still have some snow at 9,500 ft while an area of open granite on a south facing slope could be snow free at 10,500 ft. Be prepared for consistent snow coverage above 10,500 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. Warmer temperatures this week may make creek crossings more hazardous. Creeks can be much higher later in the day than they were in the morning.

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.

See a map of trails that are currently cleared of downed trees. Be aware that though most trees fall in the stormy winter months, trees can fall at any time of year and may cover some trails that have been cleared.

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.

Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center

Open 8 am to 5 pm daily. Bear canisters available to rent and maps and books for sale.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Open 8 am to 5 pm daily. Bear canisters available to rent and limited maps and books for sale.

Big Oak Flat Information Station

Open 8 am to 5 pm daily. Bear canisters available to rent and maps and books for sale.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio

Open 8:30 am to 5 pm daily. Bear canisters available to rent and maps and books for sale.

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station

Hetch Hetchy road hours are 7 am to 9 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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