Wilderness Permit Reservations

 

Wilderness permit reservations for backpackers are available (and strongly recommended) by lottery starting 24 weeks in advance on Recreation.gov. Reservations not taken in each weekly lottery become available up to seven days in advance on Recreation.gov. Sixty percent of reservations are available 24 weeks in advance; the remaining 40 percent are available the day before or day of your hiking start date at wilderness permit issuing stations.

The processing fee is $10 per application. If you receive a wilderness permit, an additional fee of $5 per person applies. These fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

You are limited to one application per weekly lottery window and six future reservations at any time.

Wilderness permits are required all year, but reservations are only available for trips May through October.

The Yosemite Conservancy Wilderness Office processes all permit reservation applications. Its hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. The office is closed from the third week of October until mid-November, on federal holidays, and for lunch (noon to 1 pm).

How to Make a Reservation

Reservations are available from 24 weeks to seven days in advance on Recreation.gov. You must sign up for an account before making a reservation. Reservations are first available by lottery. After the lottery, all remaining reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis until seven days in advance. Unused reservations are added to the 40% of permits available beginning one day in advance of intended entry date at permit issuing stations.

In order to have your best chance of success, apply for a wilderness permit is through the weekly lottery that runs 24 weeks in advance. The lottery application period is every Sunday through Saturday from November 14, 2021, through May 7, 2022. During each weekly application period, you can apply for any start dates from Saturday through Friday, 24 weeks in advance. All applicants will receive results on the following Monday and those who were successful must accept and pay by Thursday. Failure to accept and pay by Thursday will result in the reservation being canceled without a refund.

Twelve days after the lottery application period begins for any given week (i.e., the Friday 22 weeks in advance), reservations for all trailheads that still have space will become available (until seven days in advance) at 9 am PT. Any later cancellations will become available randomly within 24 hours of cancellation.

Overnight Big Wall Climbers

A wilderness permit is required for all overnight big wall climbers. During this pilot, wilderness permits for climbers are free and there are no quotas or limits on the number of permits available. The pilot is helping climbing rangers better understand use patterns on big walls. The pilot also increases compliance with existing regulations (e.g., proper disposal of waste) and minimize impacts to wilderness character through improved education.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the reservation lottery work?

The lottery application period is seven days (Sunday through Saturday each week). You can specify up to eight options on each application, which can include any combination of dates (or valid date ranges), trailheads, and group sizes.

During the application period, you can apply any time from midnight Sunday to 11:59 pm Saturday Pacific time. When you apply during the application period has no effect on your chances of success.

Recreation.gov will randomly select applications and then run through each option in the order they were added until the application is successful or until it has determined space is not available for any options.Although the application process has changed, Yosemite Conservancy wilderness staff still reviews all permits to ensure the applicant is complying with wilderness regulations. Please pay close attention to your application status, as Yosemite Conservancy staff may contact you to fix errors on your application.

How many alternate trip leaders can I have?

Each application can have up to three alternate trip leaders. Reservations are non-transferable. The trip leader or one of the listed alternates must pick up the wilderness permit in person. Be sure to add other trip participants in case the trip leader is not able to make the trip.

Can I be a trip leader and an alternate in the same lottery window?

No. Your name may only be in the weekly lottery window once. Any applicant applying multiple times as permit holder OR alternate permit holder will have all their lottery applications canceled without refund

Is there a limit to how many permit reservations I can make?

You are limited to one application per weekly lottery window and six future reservations at any time.

How will the Donohue Pass exit quota work?

An additional quota applies to backpackers exiting the park on the John Muir Trail over Donohue Pass. This quota is not changing under this system, but how it works is changing. Permits with a Donohue Pass exit will only be available for those with a permit for Happy Isles past LYV (Donohue Pass eligible) or Lyell Canyon (Donohue Pass eligible). If you want to include Donohue Pass (or beyond) in your trip, your entry trailhead must be one of these two trailheads.

The quota for Donohue Pass exits remains at 45 people:

  • Lyell Canyon trailhead (Donohue Pass eligible): Permits for 30 people (18 by reservation, 12 first-come, first-served one day in advance).

  • Happy Isles past LYV (Donohue Pass eligible): Permits for 15 people (9 by reservation, 6 first-come, first served one day in advance).

What happened to the John Muir Trail (JMT) lottery?

There is no longer a separate process for JMT through hikers. This new system replaces both reservation systems and is the only system for reserving wilderness permits for trailheads in Yosemite.

How will Half Dome permits for backpackers work under this new system?

If you want to hike to the top of Half Dome as part of your overnight wilderness trip, you can add Half Dome permits for all or some members of your group if your trip begins from the following trailheads:

  • Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley
  • Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley
  • Happy Isles past LYV (Donohue pass eligible)
  • Sunrise Lakes
  • Cathedral Lakes
  • Rafferty Creek to Vogelsang
  • Mono Meadow

You do not need to reserve this in advance; you can simply add it upon request when you pick up your wilderness permit if your permit is for one of these entry trailheads. The cost is $10 per person (paid when you pick up your permits). These Half Dome permits are only available for overnight backpackers and are not valid for day hikers.

Why is the process for getting Half Dome permits changing?

Previously, there was an additional quota for backpackers hiking to the top of Half Dome. By limiting permits to the trailheads Half Dome hikers most commonly use, there is no need for a separate quota.

What if I want to hike Half Dome as part of a wilderness trip that doesn’t include one of the Half Dome-eligible trailheads?

You can apply for Half Dome permits using the lottery for day hikers. You may use a Half Dome permit for day hiking with any wilderness permit.

How do I maximize my chances of getting a reservation?

Reservations for many trailheads have typically been full the first day they have become available due to extremely high—and increasing—demand. If possible, consider midweek start dates and less popular trailheads. Be sure to prioritize your application with the dates or trailheads that can work for you. If you are unsuccessful the first week, you can apply to the next lottery window.

If you are planning to hike the John Muir Trail, consider including both trailheads that allow for a Donohue Pass exit and all seven date options on your lottery application.

Can I get a reservation after the lottery has run?

Yes, possibly. Any dates and trailheads that were not reserved in the lottery will be available on Recreation.gov starting 12 days (Friday) after the lottery application period starts and until seven days before the start date.

What information is collected when applying for a reservation?

As before, we will collect trip leader information and entry and exit trailheads and dates. We will also now ask for your intended camp locations for each night. You must indicate your first night's camp area so that we can ensure you are requesting the correct permit for your trip and to provide information to help manage the Yosemite Wilderness. You are not limited to these camp locations (except for those trailheads that have a required first-night camp location).

What are the fees for wilderness permit reservations?

The reservaton fee is $10 per application. If you receive a wilderness permit, an additional fee of $5 per person applies. These fees are non-refundable.

How have first-come, first-served walk-up permits changed?

The only change is that walk-up wilderness permits will now have a fee, consistent with nearby national parks and forests. The fee is $10 per group (permit) and $5 per person during the reservation season. As before, 40% of permits (plus any unreserved permits) are available starting one day in advance for in-person pickup at a wilderness center.

From approximately November through April each year, wilderness permits will be available as usual, without reservations or fees, at designated self-registration or issuing stations.

Why does Yosemite have a permit review process?

The Yosemite wilderness permit system is complex. We are committed to providing excellent service, with Yosemite Conservancy continuing to review all reservations for accuracy and appropriateness and answering emails and phone calls. If staff finds a discrepancy on your application, you will receive a call or email so that you have an opportunity to clarify your plans or edit your application. The review period is brief, so it’s important that you carefully research and plan a realistic trip before submitting your application. If you have trip ideas and want to clarify which trailheads to use on your application, you can contact the reservation help desk at yosemite.org/wildcontact. (Please allow two days for a reply.)

Why was my reservation cancelled after I accepted?

Yosemite Conservancy reviewed your reservation, found issues with your itinerary, and attempted to contact you. Yosemite Conservancy was unable to reach you before the deadline or you didn’t correct the issues, so your reservation was canceled. Application and reservation fees are non-refundable.

Once I’ve made a reservation can I change the trip leader?

No. Once you have submitted your lottery application, you may not make any changes to the application. Before submitting your application, please give careful consideration about whether you and your alternate trip leader(s) can commit to your requested dates and trailhead options. If you are hiking with someone else, it’s best to add them as an alternate during the application process.

Once I’ve made a reservation, can I change it?

Once your reservation is confirmed, you can change your exit date or exit trailhead (you can also change these when you pick up your permit). On a confirmed permit, you can change the group size or starting trailhead if space is available. You may not change the entry date or trip leader. If you need to change trip leader or alternate or your start date, you will need to create a new reservation if space is available. All fees are non-refundable.

Can I get a refund?

No. Both application and reservation fees for wilderness permits are non-refundable.

I have a reservation! Now what?

Once you have accepted and paid for your reservation, you don’t need to do anything else other than pick up your wilderness permit in person at a wilderness center in Yosemite the day of or the day before your start date. If you will arrive later than 10 am on your start date, you must hold your permit for late arrival, or your reservation will be cancelled. To do this, log into your Recreation.gov account, open the reservation, choose the option to modify the reservation, and select “Yes” for late arrival. (This option is not available until one week before the start date.) Then, you must pick up your permit in person during open hours at any Yosemite permit issuing station and begin hiking on the start date indicated on the permit.

Will I need to apply for permits in winter?

No. While trailhead quotas are in place all year, reservations are not required from approximately November through April. Permits will still be available for free by self-registration.

Are wilderness climbing permits a part of this system?

No. Wilderness climbing permits are a pilot program and not part of this system.

Last updated: October 18, 2021

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