Wilderness Conditions Update

October 20, 2020

General Conditions

A long dry and warm fall continues, but with changes to the weather in the forecast. Days will continue to get cooler and the possibility of the season's first winter storm increase. Freezing nights should be expected at higher elevations. Be prepared for the possibility of an early season winter storm, which can drop several feet of snow. Even the smallest amount of snow can obscure the trail and make travel difficult. Always check a current weather forecast and be prepared for any type of conditions.

Several fires are impacting Yosemite, with smoke creating areas of poor air quality as well as trail closures. Smoke impacts are primarily from the nearby Creek Fire burning outside of Yosemite. Air quality has improved from conditions in September, but still ranges from fair to hazardous depending on the area and time of day. Air quality is difficult to predict and can change rapidly with wind shifts or changes in fire behavior. Be prepared to change your trip as air quality changes. Check current air quality and fire information. Another useful tool to assess air quality in the park are the park webcams.

Due to the lower than average snowpack this year, water availability in the backcountry is not as plentiful and some water sources marked on the map have dried up. This includes seasonal water sources and spring run-off drainages.

From October 15, overnight parking is not allowed anywhere along the Tioga Road between Tuolumne Grove and Tioga Pass and along the Glacier Point Road; this includes all parking areas, turnouts, and side roads accessed from either Tioga Road or Glacier Point Road.

Stage 2 fire restriction are in effect for all of Yosemite Wilderness. This means that wood fires are not allowed in the backcountry. This includes fires used for warmth and cooking. Liquid, gas, and jell based stoves are still allowed.

Due to COVID-19 there are many changes to normal operations inside Yosemite this summer. Wilderness permit issuance, wilderness center hours & operations, bear canister rentals and public transportation will be much different than in years past. Please read all guidance carefully before arriving.

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

Park Area Trails, (landmarks included in description) Trail Conditions
North and South Rim of Yosemite Valley Yosemite Falls, Lehamite Creek, North Dome, Dewey Point, McGurk Meadow Trails are clear and dry. Plan on water being available only in large creeks. Yosemite Creek is no longer flowing but has large pools of water available. Snow Creeks is still flowing, while Lehamite and Indian Canyon Creeks are low flow or only have pools of water available. Dry creeks include Ribbon, Eagle Peak, and Royal Arch Creeks. On the south rim, the main water source is Bridalveil Creek and is flowing.

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 Trails are clear and dry. Water is available in the main drainages of larger named creeks, such as Illilouette, and from lakes. Smaller creeks in the south end of the park should not be expected to have water available. The South Fork of the Merced is dry. Illilouette Creek is still flowing, as is Bridalveil Creek and its tributaries.

No overnight parking on Glacier Point Road after October 15. See above for more details.

Note: Glacier Point Road will be closed to all traffic in 2021 to rehabilitate and improve the road. There will be no access to the trailheads along the road.
Wawona Area Chilnualna Creek, Buena Vista Loop Trails are clear and dry. Water sources are drying up. Alder Creek and Bridalveil Creek are flowing. The North Fork of Chilnualna Creek is stagnant and pooling and the South Fork of Chilnualna Creek is no more than 2” deep. Buena Vista Creek is dry. May encounter some overgrowth in recently burned areas.
Hetch Hetchy Beehive Meadows, Laurel Lake, Jack Main Canyon, Wilma Lake. Trails are generally clear and dry. Water availability should only be counted on at lakes and major creeks, such as Falls Creek.
Tuolumne Area: South of Tioga Rd
Lyell Canyon, Rafferty Creek, Echo Creek, Fletcher Creek Trails are clear and dry. Rafferty Creek and Echo creeks are running low and slow Rafferty may be dry at higher elevations. Lewis and Fletcher Creeks still holding water.

Vogelsang and Merced Lake HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available.

No overnight parking on Tioga Road after October 15. See above for more details.
Tuolumne Area: North of Tioga Rd Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, May Lake, Cathedral Creek Trails clear and dry. Creeks are mostly dry. Backpackers headed to lakes should pack enough water to make it to their lake destination. Some areas of the trail are faint due to overgrowth, especially on less popular trails.

Glen Aulin HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available.

No overnight parking on Tioga Road after October 15. See above for more details.
Tioga Rd: West Half Moon Meadow, Ten Lakes, South Fork Cathedral Creek, May Lake Trails along Yosemite Creek and around Lukens Lake are closed due to the Blue Jay and Wolf fires. See the current conditions page for up to date information about closures.

Trails are clear and dry. Creek crossings are at a low flow and water availability should only be counted on at springs and lakes.

May lake HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available. The road to the May Lake Trailhead is open.

No overnight parking on Tioga Road after October 15. See above for more details.
John Muir Trail (JMT) Little Yosemite Valley, Sunrise Creek and HSC, Donohue Pass Trail mostly clear and dry between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. Sunrise Creek is at a very low flow, it is 2-4" deep at the Clouds Rest junction and it is dry where it flows by Little Yosemite Valley. Sunrise HSC bathrooms are closed and potable water is not available. Please stay on the trail to help protect the resource.

Bears are active throughout the JMT corridor in Yosemite. Make sure all your food fits into your bear canister and store properly throughout your trip.

Forest Service areas outside Yosemite are currently closed to all use. Check with the Forest Service for more information about reopening dates.

Tuolumne Meadows Backpackers camp is closed for the season. Backpackers need to ensure they are at least 4 miles from Tuolumne Meadows before camping. There are no services open in Tuolumne Meadows.

Current Closures

Beginning September 8, the Mist Trail will be closed Monday-Friday, 7 am to 4 pm. 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. Will close for the 2020 season on October 31 and reopen for the 2021 season on November 12. 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, starting November 1, maps for sale and bear canisters for rent are available at the Valley Visitor Center (open 9 am to 4 pm daily and not available on November 26 and 27, December 25, and January 1.)

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) starting on November 1. Be prepared with your own bear canister. As of October 15, there is no parking along Tioga Road from Tioga Pass to Crane Flat, including all pullouts, parking lots and side roads.

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) starting on November 1. Be prepared with your own bear canister. As of October 15, there is no parking along Tioga Road from Tioga Pass to Crane Flat, including all pullouts, parking lots and side roads.

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) starting on November 1. Be prepared with your own bear canister. As of October 15, there is no parking along Glacier Point Road from Chinquapin to Glacier Point, including all pullouts, parking lots and side roads.

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: October 20, 2020

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209/372-0200

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