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Yosemite Wilderness

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Area Management

The Yosemite Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Yosemite Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.


-- Wilderness permit reservations are processed by lottery. A trailhead quota system limits the number of people entering a particular trailhead on a given day. This system is designed to reduce impacts and to avoid overcrowding. Of each daily quota for a trailhead, 60% can be reserved ahead of time while the remaining 40% 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. The person issued the wilderness permit must have the permit in possession at all times. The permit is only valid for the trip leader, trailheads, dates, and number of people specified on the permit.

-- Permits to hike to the top of Half Dome are required seven days per week when the cables are up, even for backpackers with wilderness permits.

-- There is a $25 per vehicle entrance fee from November through March and $30 per vehicle entrance fee from April through October.

-- Group size is limited to 15 people or fewer, 8 people maximum for any cross country hiking more than one-quarter mile from any trail.

-- Proper food storage is mandatory. Approved bear-resistant food canisters are required in all areas of Yosemite. Cleanup of food and debris if a bear gets your food is your responsibility.

-- All human waste must be buried at least six inches deep and at least 100 feet from water sources, camp areas, and trails.

-- Carry out all trash. Do not burn or bury toilet paper or trash.

-- Fires are allowed in existing fire rings only, and prohibited above 9,600 feet in elevation. Use dead and down wood only.

-- All pets are prohibited.

-- Motorized equipment, bicycles, strollers, and any mechanized transport are prohibited.

-- Fishing is permitted with a valid California fishing license. All pertinent California State fishing regulations apply. Please Check, Clean, and Dry your equipment when moving from one water body to the next to prevent the spread of invasive species.


-- Permits are required (see above section).

-- Choose a previously impacted campsite at least 100 feet from any water source or trail.

-- You must camp at least four trail miles from Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Hetch Hetchy, and Wawona, and at least one air mile from any road. Camping is prohibited in the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River.

-- Camping in the Half Dome and Little Yosemite Valley area is permitted only in the Little Yosemite Valley Campground.

-- Camping is not permitted between Yosemite Valley and Little Yosemite Valley. If you would like to camp in a dispersed Wilderness setting, you must be at least two miles beyond the Little Yosemite Valley campground (at or beyond Moraine Dome or beyond the Half Dome/John Muir Trail junction).

-- Camping is not permitted on top of Half Dome or at Lost Lake.

-- Camping is permitted at backpackers' campgrounds near Glen Aulin, May Lake, Sunrise, Merced Lake, and Vogelsang High Sierra Camps.

-- Each campground contains food lockers and group fire rings (fires are not permitted at Vogelsang).

-- When the High Sierra Camps are open, composting toilets and potable water are also available. All other camping should be away from the High Sierra Camps.


-- Stock use is limited to 25 head.

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