Wilderness Conditions Update

October 15, 2017

General Conditions

As the days get shorter, temperatures are dropping. Overnight temperatures have been near freezing and below, especially in the high country. It is important to check a current weather forecast for the area you will be in before you start your trip and to be prepared for multiple weather conditions as things can shift rapidly in the Sierra Nevada. The snow at 11,000 feet never melted out completely this year, and precipitaion is likely in the coming weeks. When snow covers trails, wayfinding skills with a map, compass, and/or a GPS is a necessity. As winter approaches, those going out into the backcountry are urged to ensure they are adequately prepared for all worst-case scenarios.

Beginning October 15, overnight parking is not allowed anywhere along the Tioga Road between Tuolumne Grove and Tioga Pass; this includes all parking area, turnouts, and side roads accessed from Tioga Road. Overnight parking is also prohibited along Glacier Point Road (including Glacier Point). All amenities in Tuolumne Meadows and along the Tioga Road corrider have closed for the season.

With winter precipitation comes more water to feed creeks and rivers. Backpackers are urged to exercise caution when crossing over or through water. Manage your risk in accordance to your skill and comfort levels. Be knowledgable and practice safe creek crossing techniques. If you do not feel comfortable crossing a creek, wait to see if the level or flow drops, or turn around. In cold water, hypothermia is a danger and a real concern. Backcountry users should familiarize themselves with techniques of what to do if and when a situation turns sour.

In the fall, black bears go into what is called hyperphagia. During this time, they must consume 15,000 to 20,000 calories per day. While in the wilderness, food should never be left unattended and must remain within arm's reach of an awake person or in a fully latched bear canister. Help protect our bears by not allowing them to get at ANY scented item during your trip.

As of this writing, all trails south of Glacier Point Road and Mono Meadow are closed due to fire operations for the Empire Fire. Air quality may be affected by fires in the park and in the state of California. Smoke is likely in all areas of the park and visitors should check fire information for more info.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are currenlty in effect by order of the Superintendent. Campfires and twig stoves are prohibited below 6,000 ft. Portable stoves using pressurized gas, liquid fuel and propane are allowed. Wilderness areas below 6,000 feet where campfires are prohibited include but are not limited to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River below Return Creek footbridge to Morrison Creek above Pate Valley, Rancheria Falls, the Lake Eleanor Area, Inspiration Point on the South Rim, and Poopenaut Valley.

Park Area Trails, landmarks included in description Trail Conditions
Valley Rim Lehamite Creek, North Dome, Taft Point, Sentinel Dome The trails along the northern and southern rims of the valley are clear and accessible. There is some erosion and washed out areas of trail, especially along the trail from Tamarack Creek to El Capitan. Water is available in creeks. The camping closure between the top of the Snow Creek switchbacks and the Snow Creek footbridge is still in effect: there is no camping allowed in that area.
Glacier Point Rd Ostrander Lake, Illilouette Creek All trails south of Glacier Point Road and the Mono Meadow trailhead are closed, as of this writing, due to fire operations in Yosemite's wilderness. Overnight parking along Glacier Point Road is prohibited after October 15th. If and when these trails re-open, hazards from fire damage will be present and users are urged to exercise extreme caution and to be aware of their surroundings.
South End Chinualna Creek Chilualna Falls trail is in good condition. Visitors should be weary when using trails in the southern part of the park. Due to the wildfires this summer, burned areas have a higher risk of falling debris and snags.
Hetch Hetchy Beehive Meadows, Laurel Lake, Wapama Falls The Wapama Falls footbridges are open. The rockfall just past the bridges has been cleared. All trails in the area are open and in good condition.
Tuolumne Meadows area south of Tioga Rd Lyell Canyon, Rafferty Creek, Ireland Lake, Lewis Creek, Fletcher Creek Trails south of Tuolumne Meadows are clear and in good condition. Snow has already begun to stick in shady areas. No overnight parking along Tioga Road, as of October 15th. Temperatures are getting low in the night at these high elevations. Water is plentiful.
Tuolumne Meadows area north of Tioga Rd Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, Young Lakes, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne There is no overnight parking along Tioga Road beginning October 15th. Trails north of Tuolumne Meadows are clear. Water is abundant. There is no longer a bridge over Conness Creek headed to Glen Aulin. Patches of snow have begun to stick.
Tioga Rd- West Murphy Creek, May Lake, Ten Lakes, South Fork Cathedral Creek, May Lake Overnight parking along the Tioga Road is prohibited beginning October 15th. The bridge across the Tuolumne River in Pate Valley was broken during the winter, and has not been repaired. This crossing should be treated as a wilderness crossing. Low temperatures are present, especially at night. Bears have succeeded in getting food at Ten Lakes and so visitors are reminded to remain extra vigilent with food protection in that area.
JMT (in Yosemite) The JMT, starting at Happy Isles and going to Tuolumne Meadows may have patches of snow off to the side of the trail. Water is available at most creeks and streams.

See a map of trails that have been cleared of downed trees for the season. Please note that though most tree failures occur during the stormy winter months, trees can fail at any time.

Stock users - Trails may be clear of snow but not suitable for stock travel or yet cleared of trees.

Current Closures

Current trail closures are listed on the current conditions page.

Kerrick Meadow is closed each year to padstock grazing to reduce impacts to the federally-threatened Yosemite toad and endangered Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. The area will temporarily reopen to grazing on September 21, 2017.

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 Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. Reservations are available up to 24 (168 Days) weeks ahead of your entry date.

Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center

Open 8 am to 5 pm through Sunday, October 22. Wilderness permits, maps for sale, and bear canisters for rent available. Beginning October 23, permits, maps, and canisters are available at the Valley Visitor Center, open 9 am to 5 pm.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Closed. Get self-registration permit from Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station. Be prepared with your own bear canister. No overnight parking along Tioga Road, including at the wilderness center, and any other parking lots accessed from Tioga Road.

Big Oak Flat Information Station

Closed. Permits available on the porch (self-registration). Be prepared with your own bear canister.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio

Closed. Permits available on the porch (self-registration). Be prepared with your own bear canister.

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station

Hetch Hetchy road hours are 8 am to 7 pm (8 am to 5 pm from November 1 through March 31). Permits and bear canisters may only be obtained during open hours. Bear canisters may not always be available. 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.

Last updated: October 27, 2017

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


(209) 372-0200

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