January 30, 2016
January was a record month of precipitation for Yosemite, with nearly 26 inches (65.5 cm) of precipitation falling in Yosemite Valley. Due to this record amount of precipitation, there is a lot of snow in Yosemite now. This contrasts significantly with the last 5 years of drought. Snow amounts range from 10 ft + at the higher elevations, to 6-7 ft at 6,000 ft to 1-2 ft at 4,000 ft. Snow amounts maybe different in each location due to aspect and topography.
Winter travel techniques and skills are a must if you wish to backpack in Yosemite in the next few months. Be prepared for freezing temperatures at night and cold or cool temperatures during the day. Except for the lowest elevations and exposed areas, plan to camp in the snow. Winter storms can come at any time with heavy snowfall, making travel and navigation very difficult. Always be sure to check a current weather forecast before you start your trip and be prepared for a multitude of conditions.
Ski conditions are listed on the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Conditions page.
Due to increasing bear activity along the Snow Creek trail and the potential for bear/human interactions the area to the south and east of the footbridge [3.3 MB PDF] is closed to overnight camping. The National Park Service will continue to monitor the bears' activity and will re-open the area to camping as soon as possible. The trails and areas are open to day hiking.
The trail to Rancheria Falls is open only to foot traffic for an undetermined amount of time east of Wapama Falls due to a large rockfall.
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.
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 will open November 14, 2016 for the 2017 hiking season. The office will be 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
Closed for the season and will reopen May 2017. Permits for the Yosemite Valley trailheads are available at the Visitor Center daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Bear canisters are also available for rent.
Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center
Closed for the season and will reopen May 2017. Self-registration permits available on the front porch of the wilderness center are valid only for the Tioga Road trailheads.
Big Oak Flat Information Station
Closed for the season and will reopen May 2017. Self-registration permits available on the front porch of the information station are valid only for the Tioga Road trailheads.
Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio
Closed for the season and will reopen May 2017. Self-registration permits available on the front porch of Hill’s Studio are valid only for the Wawona and Glacier Point trailheads.
Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station
Hetch Hetchy road hours are 8 am to 5 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).
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.