Wilderness Conditions Update

August 7, 2020

General Conditions

Summer backpacking is in full swing. Trails are generally clear and dry. Due to the lower than average snowpack this year, water availability in the backcountry is not as plentiful as early summer and some water sources marked on the map have dried up. This includes seasonal water sources and spring run-off drainages. Some areas of mud do still exist in Yosemite Wilderness- please stay on the trail to mitigate resource damage.

Summertime can be hot in Yosemite. Be prepared for hot temperatures; bring plenty of water, eat salty snacks, and try to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day. Afternoon thunderstorms can happen any day throughout the summer. Thunderstorms can form rapidly and bring heavy rain, localized flooding, strong winds, much cooler temperatures, and lightning. Backpackers should check a current forecast before heading out on their trip and know how to read signs of incoming weather.

Stage 2 fire restriction are in effect for all of Yosemite Wilderness. This means that wood fires are not allowed in the backcountry. This includes fires used for warmth and cooking. Liquid, gas, and jell based stoves are still allowed.

Bears have been active in Yosemite Wilderness and bear incidents (a human encounter with a bear) have occurred. Backpackers must be vigilant about storing all scented items properly in a hard sided bear canister. Store bear canisters outside backpacks to avoid property damage and never leave food unsecured.

Due to COVID-19 there are many changes to normal operations inside Yosemite this summer. Wilderness permit issuance, wilderness center hours & operations, bear canister rentals and public transportation will be much different than in years past. Please read all guidance carefully before arriving.

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

Park Area Trails, (landmarks included in description) Trail Conditions
North and South Rim of Yosemite Valley Yosemite Falls, Lehamite Creek, North Dome, Dewey Point, McGurk Meadow Trails are clear and dry. Do not plan on water being available in all named creeks. It is starting to run low and pool in some spots and is no longer running in Ribbon Creek and Royal Arch Creek. Lehamite and Snow Creeks are still running and Indian Canyon Creek is running but low. Plan for hot and sometimes dusty conditions. On the south rim, Bridalveil Creek is still flowing but no deeper than 6" deep.

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, and camping along Snow Creek is discouraged. Hiking past Snow Creek and finding campsites west of Indian Ridge is strongly advised.
Glacier Point Rd Ostrander Lake, Illilouette Creek Trails are mostly clear and dry. Mud may still exist in meadow areas. Water available in larger named creeks such as Illilouette and from lakes. Please stay on trail to prevent resource damage.

Creeks in the south end of the park are beginning to dry up. The South Fork of the Merced is pooling and no deeper than 4" deep at crossings. Illilouette Creek is still flowing, as is Bridalveil Creek and its tributaries.

Note: Glacier Point Road will be closed to all traffic in 2021 to rehabilitate and improve the road. There will be no access to the trailheads along the road.
Wawona Area Chilnualna Creek, Buena Vista Loop Trails are mostly clear and dry. Water sources are drying up. Alder Creek and Bridalveil Creek are still up to 4-6” deep. The North Fork of Chilnualna Creek is stagnant and pooling and the South Fork of Chilnualna Creek is no more than 4” deep. Buena Vista Creek is dry. May encounter some overgrowth in recently burned areas.
Hetch Hetchy Beehive Meadows, Laurel Lake, Jack Main Canyon, Wilma Lake. Trails are generally clear and dry. Water is available at all named sources, although Frog Creek and Rancheria Creek are slowing down. Some trails, especially through burned areas, are overgrown and may be challenging to navigate.
Tuolumne Area: South of Tioga Rd
Lyell Canyon, Rafferty Creek, Echo Creek, Fletcher Creek Trails are mostly clear and dry. Some sections of mud still exist through meadow areas. Stay on the trail to avoid resource damage. Rafferty Creek and Echo creeks are running low and slow. Lewis and Fletcher Creeks still holding water.

Vogelsang and Merced Lake HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available.
Tuolumne Area: North of Tioga Rd Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, May Lake, Cathedral Creek Trails mostly clear and dry. Backpackers headed to lakes should pack enough water to make it to their lake destination. Some areas of the trail are faint due to overgrowth, especially on less popular trails.

Glen Aulin HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available.
Tioga Rd: West Half Moon Meadow, Ten Lakes, South Fork Cathedral Creek, May Lake Trails mostly clear and dry. Creek crossings are at a low flow and water availability should only be counted on at springs and lakes.

May lake HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available. The road to the May Lake Trailhead is open.
John Muir Trail (JMT) Little Yosemite Valley, Sunrise Creek and HSC, Donohue Pass Trail mostly clear and dry between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. Sunrise Creek is at a very low flow, it is 2-4" deep at the Clouds Rest junction and it is dry where it flows by Little Yosemite Valley. Sunrise HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available. Some wet and muddy patches still exist in meadowed areas through Lyell Canyon. Please stay on the trail to help protect the resource.

Tuolumne Meadows Backpackers camp is open. Backpackers need to ensure they are in the backpackers area of the campground as the rest of the campground is closed. There are no other service open in Tuolumne Meadows.

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 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

Open daily only for bear canister rentals 9 am to 1 pm. No permits will be issued at this station for 2020.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Open daily only for bear canister rentals 9 am to 1 pm. No permits will be issued at this station for 2020.

Big Oak Flat Information Station

Open daily only for bear canister rentals 9 am to 1 pm. No permits will be issued at this station for 2020.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio

Open daily only for bear canister rentals 9 am to 1 pm. No permits will be issued at this station for 2020.

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station

Hetchy Road is open 8 am to 5 pm. No permits will be issued at this station for 2020. Be prepared with your own bear canister. 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.

Map of trails cleared of downed logs in Yosemite

Last updated: August 7, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


(209) 372-0200

Contact Us