Search and Rescue: Lessons from the Field

About This Blog

Each year, park rangers and search and rescue (SAR) personnel respond to approximately 250 emergency incidents in Yosemite National Park. The park's Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR) program posts selected SAR incident reports on this blog in the hopes that readers can learn from the experiences of others.

Before reading through the blog, please be familiar with the park's comment policy.

A Wave of Heat-Related Incidents

August 07, 2020 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

Yosemite National Park emergency medical providers responded to three medical calls related to dehydration and heat exhaustion and two Half Dome incidents. Be aware of the sign and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and know how to prevent it.


Hiker Seriously Injured After Off-Trail Travel at Bridalveil Fall

July 23, 2020 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

At 4:42 on Tuesday, July 20, 2020, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 911 cell phone call from a bystander near the base of Bridalveil Fall. The caller reported that someone had slipped and fallen in the rocks, hit his head, and was unconscious and bleeding from the ear. For the past decade, hiking and scrambling off-trail is the third leading cause of accidental fatalities in Yosemite (after water-related deaths and climbing fatalities).


Near Drowning at Silver Apron

October 15, 2018 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

When the Merced RIver water level drops midsummer, Emerald Pool, just upstream from Vernal Fall, becomes an attractive swimming hole. Likewise, just upriver from Emerald Pool, a sloping granite area known as the Silver Apron becomes a tempting natural water slide. But, there are hidden hazards.


Lost Near Lost Lake

October 01, 2018 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

While descending from Half Dome, staying on the trail between the subdome and Little Yosemite Valley can prove to be challenging in open sandy areas where the switchbacks are not well defined. It is not uncommon for Yosemite Search and Rescue to respond to reports of lost Half Dome hikers in this area. Here is one such case.


Slip and Fall at Chilnualna Falls

November 12, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On the evening of Friday, August 12, 2016, two young men were scrambling barefoot and off-trail near Chilnualna Falls in Wawona. While exploring, one of the men slipped on the water-polished granite and slid down the slope to the left of the falls.


When the Road Opens before the Trails are Passable

July 06, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On July 1, 2017 about an hour before sunset, a wilderness patrol ranger on a routine wilderness patrol encountered three separate parties, seven hikers total, all completely lost while facing darkness. They were in the Sunrise Pass area, which is south of Tenaya Lake (along Tioga Road).


An Uninspiring Night near Inspiration Point: A Race Against Darkness

June 22, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On May 16, a mother and daughter were hiking to Inspiration Point when they sought a shortcut, lost the trail for over two hours, and became “cliffed out.”


Getting Damaged on a Routine Hike

May 01, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On the afternoon of April 29, a 39-year-old hiker above Columbia Rock on the Yosemite Falls Trail left the trail and attempted a short rock scramble. When sliding down the rock, he broke his ankle and found himself stranded and struggling to maintain consciousness due to his severe pain.


When Our Decisions Endanger Our Pets

April 07, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

We normally have stories about people making choices that result in them needing a rescue. This story is about choices leading to a dog needing a rescue.


A Winter Trail Run to Half Dome Nearly Ends in Disaster

March 29, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

At 8 am on December 28, 2016, two trail runners—James and Christine (not their real names)—started up the John Muir Trail from Happy Isles. They didn’t have a particular goal, route, or schedule in mind, but they did have small packs with headlamps and light jackets. Both were experienced with mountaineering, ice climbing, and backcountry snow sports.


Last updated: August 10, 2020

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