Step 1: Fill Out the Application Form
Complete the form on your computer and then print it out to fax or mail it, or submit it via an online faxing service. If you must hand-write your responses, please write clearly. Fill out the form completely. Provide a daytime telephone number so we can reach you if we have any questions. In case your first choice is not available, list alternative dates and/or trailheads, in order of your preference. Visit our trail descriptions page if you need help choosing a trail.
List the entry date of your trip. We accept reservations up to 24 weeks (168 days) in advance. Any choice with an entry date more than 24 weeks in advance will be rejected. If your second and/or third choices are more than 24 weeks in advance, you will have to reapply on the appropriate date if you are unsuccessful in obtaining your first choice.
Select your entry trailhead from the drop-down menu. (View a map of all the trailheads.) Note, entries with “--“ in front of them are not trailheads.
List the last planned day of your trip. You may change your exit date when you pick up your permit without penalty. If you plan on exiting outside of Yosemite, list the date you plan finish your trip; do not put the date you are exiting Yosemite.
List the trailhead that you plan to exit on. If you plan on exiting outside of Yosemite, the most common exit trailheads outside Yosemite are listed at the bottom of the drop-down menu. Not all trailheads in the Sierra are listed, so if your exit trailhead is not listed, either type in the trailhead name or select “Unspecified.” Quotas are not based on exit trailheads, so you may change your exit trailhead when you pick up your permit.
First Night’s Camp Location
To verify that your route matches your trailhead selection, list your anticipated first night’s camp location in wilderness. For example, list a nearby lake, stream, mountain, trail junction, or other feature you plan to camp near. The backpackers’ campgrounds located in Tuolumne Meadows, White Wolf, Hetch Hetchy, and Yosemite Valley are not valid options because they are not in the wilderness and are for use before and after your wilderness trip. You do not need to give a precise location, but be as clear as possible. You are not necessarily required to camp in the location listed as your first night’s camp location.
Number in Party
The maximum group size is 15, however not all trailhead quotas will allow for a group this large. Learn more about backpacking with large groups. Maximum group size for cross-country travel is eight people.
Minimum Number of People Acceptable
If you are willing to accept a smaller group size if space isn’t available for your preferred group size, indicate that in the “minimum number of people” field.
Half Dome Permits
Half Dome permits for backpackers are limited. Select yes if want to reserve Half Dome permits with your wilderness permit. Otherwise, select no. If no boxes are selected for Half Dome permits, no Half Dome permits will be reserved for you. If you select yes to Half Dome permits and do not complete the “Number of Half Dome Permits” field, we will assume you want permits for your full group size. If you do not select an option for “If Half Dome Cable permits are not available for my trip,” we will assume that you do not want us to process your reservation.
Permits for hikers going over Donohue Pass are limited by an exit quota. Donohue Pass is located on the border of Yosemite National Park and Inyo National Forest, at far southern end of Lyell Canyon. This exit quota only affects hikers wishing to exit Yosemite over Donohue Pass, mostly John Muir Trail hikers. Select yes if you want to hike over Donohue Pass. Select no if you do not want to hike over Donohue Pass (this is the most likely answer for most backpackers). If you are exiting Yosemite during your trip but not going over Donohue Pass, list the pass that you will be using to exit Yosemite.
The non-refundable fee of $5 per person, plus $5 for reservation, is charged to confirmed reservations only. If your reservation request is denied, you will not be charged.
Step 2: Submit Your Application
If your request is fewer than two weeks in advance of your entry date, make your reservation via phone, otherwise you may submit by fax or mail. You may fax your application form to 209/372-0739 (no cover letters). Applications will be processed via random lottery 24 weeks (168 days) in advance of entry date, but faxes may be submitted one day prior (169 days in advanced). For example, if the first day to reserve your chosen entry date is tomorrow, you can fax your reservation form any time today. Do not submit more than one application per request or group—this will not increase your chances of winning the lottery. If you apply multiple times for the same request/group, your request will be excluded from the lottery and subject to a non-refundable fee.
Step 3: Response
You will receive an email regarding the status of your application within one to two business days (please check your spam folder) or via postal mail within two weeks if an email address is not provided. Do not call prior to this time to inquire about the status of your application; this only slows the process for everyone.
Step 4: Pick Up Your Permit
Your confirmation is not your permit. You must pick up your permit at one of the five wilderness centers located within in Yosemite before you begin your hike. You, or another member of your hiking group, must pick up the wilderness permit at any permit station during business hours the day of, or the day before, your hike. Reserved permits are held until 10 am on the day of your trip. If you will arrive later than 10 am on the day of your trip, call us to hold your permit for a late arrival: 209/372-0308 (this number is for cancellations and late arrivals only). If you do not call or pick up your permit by 10 am, your permit reservation will be canceled. Permits held for late arrival still must be picked up at a permit station during business hours.