Nearly 95 percent of Yosemite National Park is designated Wilderness. Wilderness is a special distinction granted by Congress protecting land from further development. The best way to experience the 1,100 square miles of the Yosemite Wilderness is to explore it first hand.
A backcountry permit is required to camp in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park.
Free wilderness permits are required year-round for any overnight stay in the Yosemite Wilderness. Permits are not required for day hikes.
Trailhead Quota System:
Yosemite National Park has a trailhead quota system limiting the number of people entering a particular trailhead on a given day. This system is designed to reduce impacts and to avoid overcrowding, in keeping with the Wilderness Act's mandate of providing "outstanding opportunities for solitude." Of each daily quota for a trailhead, 60 percent can be reserved ahead of time while the remaining 40 percent is available on a first-come, first-served basis one day prior to, or the same day as, the beginning of your hike.
The quota system is based on where you begin your hike, and in some cases, on where you camp the first night of your trip. After the first night, you may hike to another section of the Wilderness without restriction. For this reason, even if you have a permit lasting for several days, you may not begin your trip on any day except the first day your permit is valid.
View a list of quotas for each trailhead.
Wilderness Permit Reservations?
Wilderness permit reservations are available up to 24 weeks (168 days) in advance when the wilderness permit reservation office is open (early January through October). Reservations are not available two or fewer days in advance (see below for information about first-come, first-served permits).
The cost for each confirmed reservation is $5 plus $5 per person. This fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.
Even with a reservation, 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, please call 209-372-0308 to hold your permit for a late arrival. Otherwise, your permit reservation will be canceled.
Permits held for late arrival still must be picked up at a permit station during business hours.
Please plan your trip before you make a reservation. It is your responsibility to research trails and trail conditions to decide which trip is right for you and your group. Park rangers will not plan your trip for you.
Before making a reservation, check availability. If the date or trailhead isn't listed, space is available for at least one person (but not necessarily for your entire group).
When viewing this multi-page report, please note the effective date at the top.
To make a reservation please have the name the permit will be under, mailing address, daytime telephone number, number of people, number of stock (horses, mules, llamas), start and end dates, beginning and ending trailheads, principal destination (to help clarify trailhead), method of payment ($5 plus $5/person): credit card, check, or money order.
Three Ways to Make a Reservation:
The reservation office is open January through October and accepts reservations for trips during May through September. Reservations are not necessary for trips during November through April. We are not accepting reservations via the Internet in 2009.
Fax (preferred): Please complete this reservation form [340 kb PDF] on your computer, then print and fax it to 209-372-0739. (You can fax 24 hours/day, seven days/week.)
Allow two weeks to receive a printed confirmation by mail. If you provide an email address, you will receive a generic confirmation within one business day stating whether you received your first, second, or third choice. If you would like to request a reservation for a departure date within the next two weeks, please apply by phone.
Phone: Please have your trip planned and the above information ready before calling 209-372-0740. The phone is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Mail: Please complete and print the reservation form [340 kb PDF], or send a letter with the information requested above, along with payment, to Wilderness Permits, PO Box 545, Yosemite, CA, 95389.
Make checks and money orders payable to "Yosemite Association." All major credit cards are accepted. Do not send cash. Please allow two weeks to receive a response.
Only apply once for each request: If you apply twice for the same request, you will be charged a non-refundable, non-transferable processing fee for both reservations.
If space is available within the same season, you can request a change to your existing reservation's date or trailhead for no additional charge. If you have questions regarding your reservation, or would like to make changes to an existing reservation, please do so only by calling 209/372-0740. We are unable to correspond by email or fax. Processing fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
First-Come, First-Served Permits:
Permits are also available at any permit issuing station starting one day prior to the beginning of your hike. All wilderness permits must be picked up in person by a member of the hiking group. Priority for permits for a particular trailhead is given to the closest permit issuing station, though it is possible to obtain a permit for any trailhead at any permit issuing station. This mainly affects the most popular trailheads that fill up quickly each morning, such as Little Yosemite Valley trailheads, Lyell Canyon, Cathedral Lakes, among others.
Though popular trailheads may fill up, there is always space available on other trailheads in the park.
From November through April, permits are available without a reservation.
You can find current wilderness center hours on the wilderness conditions update.
Wilderness permit holders may spend one night prior to, and one night after, a backpacking trip in a backpackers' campground. This service is especially helpful for those wishing to get a first-come, first-served permit the day before beginning the hike.
Winter Permits?Wilderness permits are required in winter (November through April), but are available on a self-registration basis. No reservations are necessary. You may self-register for permits in the winter at any normal permit issuing station. For trips beginning at Badger Pass, you must get your permit at the Badger Pass Ranger Station ("A-frame"). Self-registration areas are not staffed, except at the Yosemite Valley
Visitor Center and Badger Pass Ranger Station.
Permits for and from areas outside Yosemite? If you are starting a hike from a trailhead located outside of Yosemite National Park, obtain your permit from the trailhead's managing agency, even if camping in Yosemite.
Only one permit is required. Even if you plan to spend every night of a Wilderness trip inside Yosemite but your entry trailhead is outside Yosemite, you do not get the permit from Yosemite. If you are starting at a trailhead in Yosemite and wish to camp outside of Yosemite during your Wilderness trip, you will only need to get a single wilderness permit from Yosemite.
If your starting trailhead is outside Yosemite National Park, get your permit from the land agency that manages that trailhead.
See complete Permit-Related information for Yosemite National Park.