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.
Wilderness permits are required for backcountry camping; they are free. Permits are not required for day hikes. See our Backpacking pages for more information.
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.
Related: High Sierra Camps