Yosemite Backpacking Permits

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Wilderness Permit Overview

Backpacking in Yosemite is very popular, and visitors come from all over the world to hike the famous granite peaks in the park.

Free wilderness permits are required year-round for visitors wanting to spend the night in the backcountry. Yosemite’s process for permits and how to get them is a little different than other National Parks; Yosemite has a limited number of permits per trailhead. The permit system is a lottery, you can apply 24 weeks before the start of your trip. First-come first-serve permits are also available, but may be difficult to obtain for more popular trailheads.

To be successful in getting the wilderness permit that you want, you’ll have to make sure you:

  1. Figure out your itinerary and know where you will be starting your trail from.
  2. 2. Plan ahead and know exactly when you can apply for a permit.
  3. 3. If you don’t get a reservation, try again, and then try for a first-come first-serve permit.
  4. 4. Consider going with a guiding company.

All Inclusive Yosemite Backpacking Tours

How to get a wilderness permit

Since Yosemite’s permit system is done from the trailhead, first you must determine where your hike will begin, and see if there are any available permits for that trailhead. For each daily quota for permits, 60 percent can be reserved beforehand, and 40 percent are saved for first-come first-serve. You can make a reservation 24 weeks before the start of your trip. Submit your application as soon as you can, as popular trailheads tend to fill up the first day reservations are available.

For first-come first-serve permits, you can go to a permit station as early as 11 am on the morning before the first day of your trip. Even though permits for popular trailheads may fill up, the National Park Service says that there will always be permits available for other permits in the park.

trailhead quota information

Below are the lists of the most common trailheads in the park, categorized by area, and their quota of reservable permits and of first-come first-serve permits. The quota in each column refers to the number of people, not the number of permits. You can also get a comprehensive list of trailhead information from the Park Service online.


Trailhead Reservable Quota First-come First-serve Quota
May Lake 15 10
May Lake to Snow Creek 6 4
Porcupine Laek 12 8
Ten Lakes 24 16
Tamarack Creek 15 10
South Fork Tuolumne River 15 10


Trailhead Reservable Quota First-come First-serve Quota
Sunrise Lakes 9 6
Murphy Creek 9 6
Cathedral Lakes 15 10
Lyell Canyon 21 14
Young Lakes via Dog Lake 12 8
Mono/ Parker Pass 9 6
Glen Aulin 15 10


Trailhead Reservable Quota First-come First-serve Quota
Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley 18 12
Happy Isles to Sunrise/ Merced Lake 6 4
Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley 6 4
Mirror Lake to Snow Creek 15 10
Yosemite Falls 15 10


Trailhead Reservable Quota First-come First-serve Quota
Chilnualna Falls 24 16
Alder Creek 18 12
Deer Camp 15 10
Bridalveil Creek Campground 15 10
Mono Meadow 12 8


Trailhead Reservable Quota First-come First-serve Quota
Beehive Meadows 21 14
Ranchiera Falls 21 14
Poopenaut Valley 15 10
Mather Ranger Station 15 10
Baseline Camp Road 15 10

trails with an additional application procedure

If you are planning a backpacking trip that includes hiking to the top of Half Dome, make sure that you specify that when filling out your wilderness permit application. You are required to carry a wilderness permit, and a Half Dome permit. The National Park now allocates 75 permits a day for just backpackers on Half Dome. Of those permits, 50 are able to be reserved and 25 are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The process to obtain a first-come, first-server permit for Half Dome is the same as the process for a wilderness permit—visit a permit issuing station beginning at 11 the morning before your hike starts.

If you are hiking the John Muir Trail an are exiting over Donahue Pass, you must obtain a exit quota permit. Yosemite implemented this to protect the access for day-hikers, and to provide a quality JMT experience. The exit quota is 45 permits each day for backpackers finishing the trail over Donahue Pass. It is best to have flexible dates, and you can apply online for a range of dates on the JMT rolling lottery application.


Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most epic and amazing hiking vacations in the world. Wildland Trekking offers trips with the best of Yosemite: waterfalls, views, wildlife, solitude, adventure and fascinating natural and cultural interpretation.

Guided Yosemite treks are all-inclusive which covers permits; local transportation (excluded on certain tours); meals; equipment; safety systems and professional hiking/wilderness guides; all of which allows visitors to maximize their time in Yosemite and focus entirely on enjoying the Park.


GUIDED BACKPACKING ADVENTURES: these are for people interested in an authentic Yosemite hiking adventure away from the roads and crowds.

PORTERED TRIPS: on these innovative trips, guests hike with light day packs and camp near in stunning backcountry locations.

INN-BASED PACKAGES: these tours are all-inclusive packages with lodging, amazing daily hikes, expert guides, meals, transportation and more!

CAMPING-BASED HIKING PACKAGES: camping-based hiking packages provide all-around hiking experiences of Yosemite on wonderful outdoor vacations.

DAY HIKE TOURS: maximize your day in Yosemite on a fully guided, award-winning hiking tour on one of the Park’s best trails.