A wilderness climbing permit is required for all overnight big wall climbs. Permits for climbers are available by self-registration, are free, and there are no quotas or limits on the number of permits available. The permit system helps climbing rangers better understand use patterns on big walls. It will also increase compliance with existing regulations (e.g., proper disposal of waste) and minimize impacts to wilderness character through improved education.
When eastern Yosemite Valley is closed due to flooding, self-registration climbing permits are available at Arch Rock Entrance for climbs in western Yosemite Valley (El Capitan, Leaning Tower, Gold Wall, Cathedrals (and obscurities). Climbs in eastern Yosemite Valley are not accessible (e.g., Washington Column, Half Dome, Falls Wall, Lost Arrow).
Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs a wilderness climbing permit?
All climbers staying overnight on big wall climbs in Yosemite must have a wilderness climbing permit.
If you are doing a day climb, you don’t need a wilderness climbing permit.
How do I get a wilderness climbing permit?
Permits are available by self-registration (24 hours per day/7 days per week) in front of the Valley Welcome Center (south end of the Village Store complex). Later in December, permits will also be available near El Capitan Bridge (look for a kiosk near the food lockers).
Pick up your permit the day before or day of the start of your overnight climb.
What entry formation/route should I select for my overnight climb?
Climbing rangers have established several overnight climbing formations/routes including:
Select the most appropriate trailhead for your climb.
How many people can be on a wilderness climbing permit?
Up to eight people can be on a wilderness climbing permit. If you plan on having more than four people, please contact a climbing ranger to discuss logistics and the appropriateness of large climbing parties.
What is the cost of the wilderness climbing permit?
Wilderness climbing permits are free.
Is there a quota for wilderness climbing permit?
There are no quotas for wilderness climbing permits.
Where can I bivouac or camp with a wilderness climbing permit?
Climbers can bivouac on any vertical cliff, face, or wall in Yosemite provided that they are at least one pitch off the ground on a route that is Grade V or higher, following all other Yosemite regulations, and are not in a closed area. Climbers cannot bivouac or camp on walls outside of designated wilderness such as the Rostrum or Elephant Rock.
With a wilderness climbing permit, can I camp in the frontcountry the night before or after my overnight climb?
Climbers with a wilderness climbing permit may spend one night prior to, and one night after, an overnight climb in an open backpackers campground. The cost is $8 per night (per person); reservations are not required. These only provide tent camping; sleeping in a vehicle is not allowed. In 2023, backpackers campground will have extremely limited due space due to the temporary closure of Tuolumne Meadows backpackers campground. Please make alternative plans when possible.
How does this permit system improve compliance with park regulations and better protect the wilderness?
Many visitors who violate park regulations don’t realize the regulation exists or don’t realize they’re violating it. Sometimes visitors don’t abide by a regulation because they don’t understand why it exists. Just as overnight hikers receive brief person-to-person wilderness education when receiving wilderness permits, overnight climbers will experience a similar approach. Improved compliance with regulations will reduce wilderness impacts and improve climbers’ experiences by reducing trash, human waste, and abandoned equipment caches.
How does this compare with other parks with big wall climbs?
How can I contact a climbing ranger?
Climbing rangers are available to respond to questions about by email. You can also leave a message at 209/354-2025.
Terms and Conditions of Wilderness Climbing Permits
Last updated: December 4, 2023