Wilderness Conditions Update

January 6, 2021

General Conditions

Snow blankets the majority of the Yosemite landscape; expect snow at the higher elevations, 6,000 ft and up and possibly at lower elevations in shaded or forested areas. Once overnight camping restrictions are rescinded, you should expect to camp in snow.

A winter storm can come at any time and dramatically change the conditions, hopefully with multiple feet of snow. Monitor local weather forecasts before going on a hike.

Though snow amounts are relatively modest, even a little bit of snow can obscure all indications of a trail, making navigation difficult. As the snow consolidates, be aware of sections of ice or hard packed snow on the trail. Further, travel over snow is slower than hiking and can be very slippery at times. Snowshoes or skis should be used when planning on traveling over snow covered areas. Though snow generally falls uniformly over a landscape, snow melts first in favorable areas, such as the lowest locations and those south facing and exposed to direct sunlight. As such, there is not a distinct snowline and areas of snow can vary widely.

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. Overnight parking at Hetch Hetchy will be limited due to construction. Please carpool or reduce the number of vehicles per group. Wilderness permits for the Hetch Hetchy area are available at the kiosk (self-registration). 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.

Last updated: January 6, 2021

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