Backpacking in Yosemite

Wilderness Permits Details

Wilderness permits are required in winter (November–April) but are available on a self-registration basis. No reservations are necessary. During winter, self-register for permits at any normal permit-issuing station. For self-registration locations and bear-proof canister rentals, please check the Wilderness Conditions. For trips beginning at the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, you must get your permit at the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area Ranger Station (“A-frame”).

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 impact and avoid overcrowding. 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 your hiking date at 11 am. If the quota does not fill a day in advance, it will be available the day of your wilderness trip.

The quota system is based on when and where you begin your hike, and in some cases, where you camp the first night of your trip. For this reason (even with multiday permits) you may not begin your trip on any day except the entry day specified on the permit. Your permit is valid only for the entry trailhead specified. After the first night, you are allowed to hike unrestricted within the network of trails accessible from your entry trailhead.

View a list of trailhead quotas.


Attention JMT Hikers: On February 2, 2015, NPS began enforcing an exit quota for backpackers exiting Yosemite over Donahue Pass. For more information, please visit Wilderness Permits for John Muir Trail Hikers.

Yosemite Wilderness Permit Reservations

Wilderness permit reservations are available up to 24 weeks (168 days) in advance. View a table with the earliest dates for reservation requests. Reservations are not available one day in advance or on the day of your hike (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. All changes to existing permit reservations must be made by the trip leader.

Once you have made a reservation, you or another member of your hiking group must pick up the wilderness permit at any permit station the day of or day before your hike. Business hours vary, so please check the schedule.

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 late arrival. If you do not arrange for late arrival, your permit reservation will be canceled at 10 am. Permits held for late arrival still must be picked up at a permit station during business hours.

Planning Your Wilderness Trip

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 you make a reservation, please have the following information available: 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), and method of payment ($5 plus $5 per person): credit/debit card or check. View trailhead information.

Three Ways to Make a Reservation

The reservation office is open mid-November through end of September and accepts reservations for trips from May through October.

Reservations are not necessary for trips during November through April, but permits are still required via self-registration. The reservation office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm, with extended office hours from Memorial Day through Labor Day: Monday through Friday, 8 am–5 pm, and Saturday, 9 am–4 pm. The office is closed on federal holidays and for lunch 12:00 - 1:00 pm.

Fax: Please review the instructions and complete and print the reservation form. Fax the form to 209-372-0739. If you provide an eligible email address, you will receive an email within 1-2 business days stating whether your request was confirmed or denied. If you do not provide an email address, it may take up to two weeks to receive a confirmation or denial letter by mail. If you would like to request a reservation for a departure date within the next two weeks, it is best to apply by phone.

JMT Hikers: If you are flexible on the start date for your trip, you may now submit one application for a longer range of dates by use of the JMT fax form. This form can only be used for John Muir Trail hikers (exiting Yosemite over Donohue Pass).

Phone: Please have your trip planned and the above information ready before calling 209-372-0740. Our reservation phone line is very busy, especially in January, February, and March, and around holiday weekends. When possible, please fax your request.

Mail: Please review the instructions and complete and print the reservation form or send a letter with the information requested above, along with payment, to:

Yosemite Conservancy Wilderness Reservations
P.O. Box 545
Yosemite, CA, 95389

Please make checks and money orders payable to Yosemite Conservancy. All major credit/debit cards are accepted. Do not send cash. Please allow two days to receive a response by email. 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.

Reservation Changes

If space is available within the same season, you can request to change your existing reservation date or trailhead for an additional processing fee of $5. If you have questions regarding your reservation or you would like to make changes to an existing reservation, please call 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. View permit station details.

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 and Cathedral Lakes, among others. Though popular trailheads may fill, there is always space available on other trailheads in the park.

View a list of trailheads showing which permit station has priority over each.