Wilderness Conditions Update

February 13, 2020

General Conditions

After a strong start to winter, Yosemite is experiencing a long dry spell. Despite this, there is still significant snow at the higher elevations. The snowline is roughly 6,000 ft but varies due to aspect and exposure. Trails are generally clear to the valley rim, but quickly become snow covered as you travel farther.

The snowpack around the Badger Pass Ski Area (approx 7000') is getting thin. Bare spots are emerging on trails as well as along Glacier Point Road, primarily on south facing aspects. Conditions have been icy and firm in the morning, areas with sun exposure are turning non-supportive and mushy by mid-day, while shaded areas are remaining firm for most of the day. Postholes (large deep footprints 1+ foot into the snowpack) abound on popular trails, such as those going to Dewey Point, due to the abundance of visitors walking on the ski trails without skis or snowshoes. Please do not walk on the ski trails with micro-spikes or in hiking shoes; postholing is unenjoyable and creates hazardous conditions while also accelerating the loss of the snowpack on our designated nordic routes.

Be aware or 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.

Be prepared for freezing temperatures at night and cold or cool temperatures during the day. 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

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

Closed for the season. Will reopen May 2020. Wilderness permits, maps for sale, and bear canisters for rent are available at the Valley Visitor Center (open 9 am to 5 pm).

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Closed for the season. Will reopen spring 2020 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 2020. 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 2020. 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. 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.

 
Map of trails cleared of downed logs in Yosemite

Last updated: February 13, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Phone:

(209) 372-0200

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