March 15, 2023
While not quite over, the winter of 2023 will be one for the record books with one of the largest winter snow packs on record. Until the end of winter and when final measurements are made, it won't be clear where this winter season will rank, but it certainly can be in the top 5 and possibly in the top 2. This means there's a lot of snow out there! Snow amounts range from 10 ft + at the higher elevations to 6-7 ft at 6,000 ft. Snowline is roughly 5,000 ft., though snow amounts maybe different in each location due to aspect and topography. With this large amount of snow, snow will linger in Yosemite for many months and well into summer at the higher elevations.
In a year like this, even the most fit visitors will find it difficult to make it in from the Lee Vining Gate to Tuolumne Meadows in a day especially with a heavy pack. It is a tough balance between being prepared to bivy and travelling light and fast.
The Lee Vining approach to Yosemite remains a mountaineering experience. We recommend an ice axe and crampons in the kit as hard and steep snow will likely be encountered if not on the way in then on the way out. Remember snow surface conditions are variable depending on time of day, wind, aspect, and elevation. What might be a moderate boot pack or ski traverse on softer snow may turn into a fearful slide for life scenario on hard snow at another time.
To elaborate, the Tioga Road grade has been replaced by steep, consequential, side hill traverses in places by the heavy snow, winds, and avalanches of January. There are countless alternative routes into Tuolumne, but they too require mountaineering skills. It is not just a “walk in the park” when snow blankets the ground.
All current trail closures are listed on the current conditions page.
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 are required for overnight stays in the Yosemite Wilderness. Reserved permits can be picked up at the following locations:
Wilderness Permit Reservations
Wilderness Permit reservations are available online at recreation.gov (help desk available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm). Reservations are available up to 24 (168 Days) weeks to 3 days ahead of your entry date.
Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center
Closed for the season. Will reopen spring 2023.
Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center
Closed for the season. Will reopen spring 2023 when Tioga Pass opens. Wilderness permits for the Tuolumne Meadows area only 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 2023. Wilderness permits for the Tioga Road area only 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 2023. Wilderness permits for the Wawona area only 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 and bear canister rentals are available at the entrance station. 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.
Last updated: March 15, 2023