Wilderness Conditions Update

April 1, 2021

General Conditions

It is a tale of seasons, depending at what elevation you are at. It is spring in the lower elevations but still winter at the higher elevations. Much of Yosemite's Wilderness is at higher elevations and therefore still in winter. Snowline is roughly 6,000 ft but is favored to shaded and north facing areas. Yosemite Valley is snow free, as are many of the trails to the Valley Rims. However, once at the Valley rim, snow coverage quickly becomes 100%. As almost all wilderness camping locations are at those higher elevations, be prepared to travel and camp in snow. Skis or snowshoes are recommended. Snow cover completely obscures all traces of the trail so strong cross-country navigation skills are a must.

With the beginning of April, the traditional spring runoff season begins. Creeks and streams will start to increase their flow. Snow bridges that covered creeks in the winter will begin to open or become unstable. Take care when crossing streams or you hear water running underneath the snow. Creeks can vary dramatically during the day, particularly if it is warm out.

A late winter storm can come at any time and dramatically change the conditions, with snow and much cooler weather. Monitor local weather forecasts before going on a hike.

Ski conditions are listed on the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Conditions page.

Current Closures

For more details, and all current trail closures, are listed on the current conditions page.

Kerrick Meadow is closed each year to packstock 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 August 15, 2019.

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

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

Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center

Closed for the season. Will reopen May 2021. Wilderness Permits maps for sale and bear canisters for rent are available at the Valley Visitor Center.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Closed for the season. Will reopen spring 2021 when Tioga Pass opens. Wilderness permits for the Tuolumne Meadows area are available on the porch (self-registration). Be prepared with your own bear canister.

Big Oak Flat Information Station

Closed for the season. Will reopen spring 2021. Wilderness permits for the Tioga Road area are available on the porch (self-registration). Be prepared with your own bear canister.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio

Closed for the season. Will reopen spring 2021. Wilderness permits for the Glacier Point Road and Wawona areas are available on the porch (self-registration). Be prepared with your own bear canister.

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station

Hetchy Road is open 8 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits for the Hetch Hetchy area are available at the kiosk (self-registration). Be prepared with your own bear canister as bear canisters will not be available for rent in 2021 (Big Oak Flat Information Station, when open, will be closest location to rent bear canisters). There is no access to Hetch Hetchy beyond road 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: April 2, 2021

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