Wilderness Conditions Update

June 3, 2021

General Conditions

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Although early June usually looks like spring in Yosemite, this year we had a dry winter, and it feels like summer already. Highs are currently in the 90s in the Valley so prepare for summertime heat, though it is still June and cooler weather could return. This past winter provided only 25% average snowpack for the Tuolumne River Basin and 31% for Merced River Basin (as of May 1). This means the annual cycles will come earlier than usual this year. Of course, we don’t know exactly what conditions will be like for the summer, but for your trip planning, you can expect some predictable events to happen earlier this year. Here are a few examples:

You can expect snowmelt to happen more rapidly than usual, making some higher elevation routes and stream crossings accessible earlier in the season. Mosquito activity will most likely peak earlier this summer. In the late summer, expect the streams to dry up sooner making water less readily available.

For now, there is still plenty of water flowing and water is available from most streams marked the maps. Though water levels are lower than usual, some of the unbridged crossings can still be hazardous at the current flow.

In February 2021 Yosemite experienced a “Mono Wind” toppling thousands of trees throughout the park. Many trails were damaged and obscured by logs falling across the trails. Some trails resemble an obstacle course more than a hiking route and will require navigation and tree scrambling skills. Our trail maintenance team are working hard to clear the trails, but you should prepare for slower travel on these heavily impacted trails.

Warmer weather can create prime conditions for thunderstorms in Yosemite. Hikers should come prepared for myriad conditions in the Wilderness. Monitor local weather forecasts before going on a hike.

Park Area Trails (landmarks included in description) Conditions
North and South Rim of Yosemite Valley Lehamite Creek, North Dome, Dewey Point, McGurk Meadow Trails are clear of snow and dry.
There are several downed trees across the trails.
Water is available from all named sources.
Tamarack Creek is 20' wide and 3' deep. The unbridged crossing of Wildcat tributary is 12' wide; 2' 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, Red Peak Pass Trails are mostly clear of snow and dry. Snow still exists on the north side of Red Peak Pass.Trees have fallen and completely obscured some sections of trail. Navigation is especially difficult on the trail from Lost Bear Meadow to Turner Meadow. Ostrander Lake trail is mostly clear of trees with only a few across the trail.Water is available from all named sources. Illilouette Creek is 30’ wide and 2’-2.5‘ deep.
Wawona Area Chilnualna Creek, Buena Vista Loop Trails are mostly clear of snow, with some patches in the shade and some flooding for ½ mile sections. Large sections of trail are completely obscured from fallen trees. Navigation is especially difficult around Deer Camp, the southern leg of the Buena Vista Loop, and the top of Chilnualna Falls.Water is available from all named sources.
Hetch Hetchy Beehive Meadows, Laurel Lake, Jack Main Canyon, Wilma Lake. Trails are mostly clear of snow. Several trees are down across the trails.Water is available at all named sources. Wapama Falls bridge is intact and safe to cross. Kibbie Creek crossing is 15’ wide and 2’ deep.
Tuolumne Area: South of Tioga Rd Lyell Canyon, Rafferty Creek, Echo Creek, Fletcher Creek Trails are covered in patches of snow and sections of mud and flooding. Stay on the trail to avoid resource damage.There are many downed trees across the trails.Water is available from all named sources. No unbridged creek crossings require wading.
Tuolumne Area: North of Tioga Rd Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, May Lake, Cathedral Creek Trails are covered in patches of snow and sections of mud and flooding. Expect full snow coverage above 11,000ft. Several trees are down across the trails. Water is available in all named creeks. Some of the unbridged creek crossings may be swift and 2-4 ft deep. Cathedral Creek crossing is 10’ across and 2’ deep.
Tioga Rd: West Half Moon Meadow, Ten Lakes, South Fork Cathedral Creek, May Lake Trails are covered in patches of snow and sections of mud and flooding. Ten Lakes Pass is about 50% snow covered but melting fast, along with patches of snow throughout Ten Lakes. Several trees are down across the trail. Water is available from all named sources. South Fork of Cathedral Creek is 10’ across and 1’ deep. May Lake bathroom is closed. The road to the May Lake Trailhead is open.
John Muir Trail (JMT) - Happy Isles to Donohue Pass Little Yosemite Valley, Sunrise Creek, Donohue Pass Trail mostly clear with some patches of snow and flooding between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. Sunrise HSC bathrooms are closed. There is significant flooding in meadow areas through Lyell Canyon. Please stay on the trail to help protect the resource. Donohue Pass will require snow travel.Tuolumne Meadows Backpackers camp is closed. It will re-open when the full campground opens.

Current Closures

For more details, and all current trail closures, are listed on the current conditions page.

Full or partial meadow closures to free-range grazing are in effect at Crescent Lake, Hook Lake North, Isberg Lake, Miller Lake, Rodger's Lake, Turner Meadow, and Upper Kerrick Meadow to align with the 2020 Biological Opinion for Yosemite toads and mountain yellow-legged frogs, and Virginia Canyon - Castle Camp for protection of sensitive vegetation resources. Further guidance is provided in the Superintendent's Compendium; detailed maps of meadow closures are at the stock use 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

Wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in the Yosemite Wilderness and must be reserved online a minimum of four days ahead of your entry date. No first-come, first-served permits are available in Yosemite in 2021.

Wilderness Permit Reservations

Online (help desk available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm). Reservations are available up to 24 (168 Days) weeks ahead of your entry date.

Reservations must be picked up between 8 am and 5 pm from one of the following locations:

Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center

Open every day (8 am to 5 pm) for permit pick-up and bear canister rental. Wilderness maps, bear canisters, and other items for purchase are available at the Valley Visitor Center.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Open every day (8 am to 5 pm) for permit pick-up and bear canister rental.

Big Oak Flat Information Station

Open every day (8 am to 5 pm) for permit pick-up and bear canister rental.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio

Open every day (8 am to 5 pm) for permit pick-up and bear canister rental.

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station

Hetchy Road is open 8 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits for the Hetch Hetchy area are available at the gate. Big Oak Flat Information Station is the closest location to rent bear canisters. 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: June 3, 2021

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