Wilderness Conditions Update

July 24, 2017

General Conditions

Summer backpacking is in full swing with snow melting fast. With the warmer temperatures, snow in the high country is turning to water, making for a very wet backcountry. Backpackers are urged to exercise extreme caution around water and at creek crossings. The snow line is now hovering around 10,500 feet, but varys moreso on aspect and location as snow melts unevenly. Forested and north facing areas will hold snow later than exposed or south facing areas. At higher elevations and in alpine areas, snow will be sticking around for some time to come, so wayfinding skills with a map and compass and/or a GPS is a necessity.

Tioga Road is now open to all traffic. Please note, there are no services and no potable water in Tuolumne Meadows, only portable toilets. Trailheads along the road are open and many trails are accessible. White Wolf, Yosemite Creek Campground, the May Lake Road, and the Tuolumne Campground remain closed. With lingering snow in north-facing, forested areas and at high elevations, hikers should be prepared for routefinding. Navigation skills are critical for hikers traveling into the high country. The Tuolumne Meadows backpacker campground is closed until the campground opens (at a date not yet anticipated). When backpacking in areas off of Tioga Road, please note that some popular camping areas are still wet and muddy. Proper campsite selection and waste burial is crucial in early-season conditions. A reminder that backpackers are not to build new fire rings out in Yosemite's wilderness and to be mindful of the plants and meadowlands. A second reminder to take the time to bury human waste in bare soil and not in snow.

Water levels for most rivers and creeks have peaked but are still running high for this time of year but generally below flood levels. Backpackers not used to higher flows should use precautions. Backpackers are urged to exercise extreme caution around water and at creek crossings. Be knowledgeable and practice save creek crossing techniques. If you do not feel comfortable crossing a creek, turn around.

Summertime can be hot in Yosemite, even in areas covered with snow. Be prepared for hot temperatures: bring plenty of water, eat salty snacks and try to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day. Summer also brings the potential for thunderstorms, particularly this year with all the moisture still in the sierra. Thunderstorms can form rapidly and bring heavy rain, localized flooding, strong winds, much cooler temperatures and lightning. July typically has the most lightning strikes. Always be sure to check a current weather forecast for the area before you start your trip and be prepared for multiple weather conditions.

Park Area Trails, landmarks included in description Trail Conditions
Valley Rim Lehamite Creek, North Dome, Taft Point, Sentinel Dome The trails along the valleys' rims are free of snow with abundant running water. Unbridged creek crossings are only 1 foot deep at most. The camping closure between the top of the Snow Creek switchbacks and the Snow Creek footbridge is in effect: there is no camping allowed in that area. Trails along Eagle Meadow, Indian Ridge, and Ribbon Meadow are wet. Most other portions of trail on the North Rim, as well as the Pohono Trail and Glacier Point, are snow-free and dry.
Glacier Point Rd Ostrander Lake, Illilouette Creek The trail to Ostrander Lake is clear. The trail to Mono Meadows is saturated with water and hikers are reminded to stay on the trail to prevent further damage to the fragile meadow ecosystems. Creek crossings are moving swiftly. Illilouette Creek at the Mono Meadow junction may be impassable at certain times of the day. If hikers feel uncomfortable crossing they should go to the Panorama Trail and use the footbridge there to cross Illilouette Creek.
South End Chinualna Creek The trail to Chilnualna Falls is clear. From the top of the falls through to Grouse Lake is swampy but accessible and free of snow excepting a few patches in shady areas. Past Grouse Lake towards Royal Arch Lake and Buena Vista Pass, snow is patchy and 3' deep when present.
Hetch Hetchy Beehive Meadows, Laurel Lake, Wapama Falls Wapama Falls footbridge has been repaired and has re-opened. However, there is a rockfall just past Wapama Falls on the way to Rancheria Falls requiring hikers to maneuver through rock and numerous tree debris. The trail remains open and trail crew is working on clearing the area. Frog Creek remains high except for the northern most crossing towards Laurel Lake. Falls Creek at Lake Vernon has swollen with recent snow melt and the footbridges may have water on them. Jack Main Canyon is very wet.
Tuolumne area-south of tioga rd Lyell Canyon, Rafferty Creek, Ireland Lake, Lewis Creek, Fletcher Creek Lyell Canyon is muddy with sections of standing water up to 6" deep. Please do not divert from the main trail to avoid wet feet; resource protection is critical this time of year with meadows being destroyed by new paths. Snow patches remain for the last half mile of Donohue Pass. Vogelsang area is mostly snow free with isolated patches of snow. The north side of Vogelsang Pass is about 50% snow covered. The meadows areas in and around Vogelsang are very wet and intermittently flooded.
Tuolumne area- north of tioga rd Murphy Creek, Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, Polly Dome Lakes, Grand Cayon of the Tuolumne Trail to Glen Aulin is clear. All bridges are intact except for the Conness Creek footbridge leading to Glen Aulin HSC. There are some flooded sections of trail by California falls that require a wade or getting your feet wet. Flooded sections are mostly below 1 ft but at deepest is 2 ft. Beyond Glen Aulin, Moving towards Cold Canyon, the trail is mostly free of snow, except for in wooded sections where there are small drifts that must be climbed over. May Lake Rd remains closed which adds 1.3 miles to the journey. Patchy snow exists from the trailhead with 60% coverage. The lake itself is mostly frozen with snow throughout the area, but some dry camping options do exist on the south side. Murphy Creek is 50% snow-covered near the Ten Lakes/Glen Aulin junction and reduces to intermittent snow near the trailhead.
Tioga Rd- West Half Moon Meadow, Ten Lakes, South Fork Cathedral Creek Patchy snow coverage exists about 2 miles from the Ten Lakes trailhead, increasing to 30-50% snowpack until Half Moon Meadow. The meadow itself has minimal snow coverage but remains very wet and muddy. Snow begins again on the upper half of the switchbacks to Ten Lakes Pass. Descending to the lakes themselves, snow reduces and dry camping options are available.
JMT (in Yosemite) The JMT is mostly snow free in Yosemite, with some patches of snow near Cathedral Pass and in the last half mile to Donohue Pass. The trail is flooded, wet or muddy in many sections; plan to have wet feet. Please stay on the trail and do not create additional side trails to avoid getting your feet wet. The Tuolumne Meadows backpacker campground is not open and won’t open until the campground opens. There is no anticipated opening date yet.

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, tentatively on July 25, 2016. (Check back for possible date changes.)

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 daily from 8 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center
Open daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent. Cash and checks preferred.

Big Oak Flat Information Station
Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio
Open daily from 8:30 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent.

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station
Hetch Hetchy road hours are 7 am to 9 pm. Permits and bear canisters may only be obtained during open hours. 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: July 25, 2017

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Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


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