As of May 2021, a wilderness permit is required for all overnight big wall climbs. Wilderness permits for climbers are currently free and there are no quotas or limits on the number of permits available. The permit process provides an opportunity to educate climbers on leave no trace climbing ethics and park regulations, and help climbing rangers quantify use patterns on big walls. The goal is to increase compliance with existing regulations (e.g., proper disposal of waste) and minimize impacts to wilderness character through improved education.
For spring 2023:
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).
Yosemite National Park is in the process of completing a long-term strategy for the stewardship of overnight big wall climbs. We will provide an update once we a final decision is made about the long-term permit process. Expected decision date summer of 2023. Learn more about the Yosemite Overnight Big Wall Climbing Wilderness Stewardship Project.
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) in front of the Climbing Management Office located just west of the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center (in the same building as the Yosemite Museum).
Starting May 13, 2023 until July 3, 2023, permits will also be available at the Ask A Climber program, located at El Capitan Meadow from 12:30 pm until 4:30 pm.
Pick up your permit the day before or day of the start of your overnight climb.
What entry trailhead should I select for my overnight climb?
Climbing rangers have established several new overnight climbing trailheads 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 and reservations are free during this pilot.
Is there a quota for wilderness climbing permit?
There are no quotas for wilderness climbing permits during the pilot. One goal of the pilot is to find out how many climbers are doing overnight climbs.
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 will 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?
Several other national parks, including Denali, Mount Rainier, Grand Teton, Zion, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Rocky Mountain already require permits for overnight 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: May 5, 2023