Wilderness Conditions Update

September 11, 2017

General Conditions

As fall approaches, temperatures in the park are cooling off. Thunderstorms and showers may be present. Thunderstorms can form rapidly and bring heavy rain, localized flooding, strong winds, much cooler temperatures, and lightning. Always be sure to check a current weather forecast for the area before you start your trip and be prepared for multiple weather conditions. Snow still lingers at and above 11,000 feet. Where snow remains is highly variable depending on aspect and location. Forested and north facing areas hold snow later than exposed or south facing areas. At these higher elevations, in alpine areas, and on north facing slopes, where there is still snow, wayfinding skills with a map, compass, and/or a GPS is a necessity.

With the coming of fall, those coming into Yosemite should be aware that amenities along tioga road and in Yosemite's high country will begin closing for the season. The hikers bus and Tuolumne Meadows shuttles' last day of operation was September 11th. The YARTS along Hwy 120/Tioga Road will cease operation for the season on September 24th. The Tuolumne Meadows CG/Backpackers Campground and White Wolf Area are scheduled to close on Monday, September 25th. The Wilderness Center in Tuolumne Meadows will stay open until October 15th this year, conditions permitting.

With rain comes more water to feed creeks and rivers. Backpackers are urged to exercise caution when crossing over or through water. Manage your risk in accordance to your skill and comfort levels. Be knowledgable and practice safe creek crossing techniques. If you do not feel comfortable crossing a creek, wait to see if the level or flow drops, or turn around.

In the fall, black bears go into what is called hyperfascia. During this time, they must consume 20,000-25,000 calories a day. While in the backcountry food should never be left unattended and must remain on somebody's person or in a LOCKED bear canister. Help protect our bears by not allowing them to get at ANY scented item during your trip.

There are a number of wildfires burning in Yosemite's wilderness. The largest of which are all in the south part of the park. All trails south of Glacier Point Road, in Wawona and in the Illiloutte Basin are closed to wilderness use while fire operations take place in those areas. With these fires, air quality may be affected. Smoke is likely in all areas of the park and visitors should check fire information before coming.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are now in effect by order of the Superintendent. Campfires and twig stoves are prohibited below 6,000 ft. Portable stoves using pressurized gas, liquid fuel and propane are allowed. Wilderness areas below 6,000 feet where campfires are prohibited include but not are not limited to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River below the Return Creek footbridge to Morrison Creek above Pate Valley, Rancheria Falls, the Lake Eleanor Area, Inspiration Point on the South Rim and Poopenaut Valley.

Park Area Trails, landmarks included in description Trail Conditions
Valley Rim Lehamite Creek, North Dome, Taft Point, Sentinel Dome The northern and southern rims of the valley are clear and accessible. Along both rims, the main creeks marked on any topographical map should still be flowing, albeit low This is with the exception of Royal Arch Creek and Wildcat Creek on the north rim, which are now dry. Seasonal sources should not be expected on either of these routes. 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.
Glacier Point Rd Ostrander Lake, Illilouette Creek Wildfires are burning through the southern part of Yosemite. All trails south of Glacier Point Road, in Wawona, and in the Illilouette Basin are closed to wilderness use as fire operations take place. Trails to the north of glacier point road, including McGurk Meadow and the Pohono Trail are open to visitors, but may be inaccessible if Glacier Point Road is closed due to fire operations. Visitors can check current road conditions by calling park information.
South End Chinualna Creek Wildfires are burning through the southern part of Yosemite. All trails south of Glacier Point Road, in Wawona, and in the Illilouette Basin are closed to wilderness use as fire operations take place.
Hetch Hetchy Beehive Meadows, Laurel Lake, Wapama Falls The Wapama Falls footbridges are open. The rockfall just past the bridges has also been cleared. The Beehive Meadows area is drying up with the summer. Faceflies are out in high numbers for the end of the season.
Tuolumne area-south of Tioga Rd Lyell Canyon, Rafferty Creek, Ireland Lake, Lewis Creek, Fletcher Creek Trails south of Tioga Road are clear, accessible and in good condtions. Mostly free of snow except for the occassional patch around 11,000 feet. Some patches persist by Evelyn and Ireland Lakes. North facing slopes are hanging on to more snow than south facing slopes, especially in the Clark Range. Water is abundant. A mountain lion was sighted in the Merced Lake High Sierra Camp backpackers area, so visitors should maintain caution when passing through.
Tuolumne area- north of Tioga Rd Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, Young Lakes, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne Trails to the north of Tioga Road in the Tuolumne Meadows area are clear. There is abundant water. The bridge to Glen Aulin over Conness Creek is battered but wading across is easily accomplished. Hikers should note that water conditions on the trail can change rapidly with warming temperatures and time of day. Moving towards Cold Canyon, the trail is mostly free of snow. Patches may be still found in the wooded areas.
Tioga Rd- West Murphy Creek, May Lake, Ten Lakes, South Fork Cathedral Creek, May Lake West of Tuolumne Meadows, trailheads off Tioga Road are open, clear and accesible. The bridge across the Tuolumne River in Pate Valley was broken during the winter, and has not been repaired. This crossing should be treated as a wilderness crossing. The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is seeing a drop in temperature at night and the face flies are out. Bears have succeeded in getting food at Ten Lakes and so visitors are reminded to remain extra vigilent with food protection in that area.
JMT (in Yosemite) The JMT, starting at Happy Isles and going to Tuolumne Meadows is free of snow. Creek crossings are no deeper than 12". Water is available. Snow patches begin at 11,000 feet.

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

Stock users - Trails may be clear of snow but not suitable for stock travel or yet cleared of trees.

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 September 21, 2017.

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
The reservation office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. Reservations are available up to 24 (168 Days) weeks ahead of your entry date.

Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center
Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent.

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center
Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent. Cash and checks preferred.

Big Oak Flat Information Station
Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent.

Wawona Visitor Center at Hill's Studio
Open daily from 8:30 am to 5 pm. Wilderness permits available, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent.

Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station
Hetch Hetchy road hours are 8 am to 7 pm. Permits and bear canisters may only be obtained during open hours. 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: September 14, 2017

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PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


(209) 372-0200

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