YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Yosemite National Park, California 95389
Yosemite National Park embraces a spectacular tract of mountain-and-valley scenery in the Sierra Nevada, which was set aside as a national park in 1890. The park harbors a grand collection of waterfalls, meadows, and forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world's largest living things.
Highlights of the park include Yosemite Valley, and its high cliffs and waterfalls; Wawona's history center and historic hotel; the Mariposa Grove, which contains hundreds of ancient giant sequoias; Glacier Point's (summer-fall) spectacular view of Yosemite Valley and the high country; Tuolumne Meadows (summer-fall), a large subalpine meadow surrounded by mountain peaks; and Hetch Hetchy, a reservoir in a valley considered a twin of Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite National Park contains 13 popular campgrounds, of which up to 7 are on a reservation system. From April through September, reservations are essential and even the first-come, first-served sites often fill by noon from May through September. The Conditions Update may contain opening or closing dates, if they are currently available.
RESERVATIONS: The process for making campground reservations may change beginning with the 2006 season. We will post information as soon as we receive it.
Reservations are required year-round for Yosemite Valley?s car campgrounds and summer through fall for Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Wawona, and half of Tuolumne Meadows. Camping reservations are available in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month through the National Park Reservation System (NPRS). Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available (often within a few hours)!
All other campgrounds (except group and stock campgrounds) are first-come, first-served.
REGULATIONS: These are some of the camping regulations that apply throughout the park. Regulations for each campground are available by clicking on one of the campgrounds listed above.
1) You must keep your food properly stored from bears 24 hours per day. Read the section on bears & food storage for more information.
2) Camping or sleeping in vehicles is permitted only in designated campsites.
3) There is a maximum of 6 people (including children) and 2 vehicles per campsite.
4) There is a 30-day camping limit within Yosemite National Park in a calendar year; however, May 1 - September 15, the camping limit in Yosemite is 14 days, and only 7 of those days can be in Yosemite Valley or Wawona.
5) Pets are permitted in all campgrounds except Camp 4, Tamarack Flat, Porcupine Flat, and all group campsites. Pets must be on a leash and should not be left unattended. See Protect Yourself... and Yosemite for more information.
6) Quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
7) Generators may be used sparingly from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
8) Camp wastewater must be disposed of in designated utility drains. Sewage must be disposed of at designated dump stations (Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Tuolumne Meadows).
9) Electrical extension cords may not be connected to campground restroom outlets.
Accommodations in Yosemite: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite operates a variety of lodging units in Yosemite. Rates range from as low as $60 per night at Curry Village for a basic tent cabin with nearby bathroom to over $357 per night for a room at The Ahwahnee.
High Sierra Camps: Open July & August. Phone: 559-253-5674. Details: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite operates five High Sierra Camps, which are spaced 5.7 to 10 miles apart along a loop trail in Yosemite's beautiful high country. All lodging is in canvas tent cabins that have dormitory-style steel frame beds with mattresses, pillows, woolen blankets and comforters. Hot showers, soap and restroom facilities are available. However, guests must provide their own sheets or sleep-sacks and towels. Sleep-sacks and Trek Towels can be purchased through Yosemite Concession Services Corporation mail order for confirmed High Camp guests. Due to high demand, High Sierra camps are reserved on a lottery basis. Applications are available October 15 to November 30 annually.
Besides the outdoor pools available to the public during summer at Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge swimming is permitted in all bodies of water in the park except Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and above waterfalls.
Swimming in the Merced River is a great way to cool off--but help protect the river by entering and exiting only on sandy beaches. Swimming in rivers is not without hazards, including swift currents, cold water, and hazards within the river
Fishing regulations for Yosemite National Park follow those set by the State of California, including the requirement that people 16 or older have a valid California fishing license.
The season for stream and river fishing begins on the last Saturday in April and continues through November 15. The only exception is Frog Creek near Lake Eleanor, where fishing season does not open until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout. All lakes and reservoirs are open to fishing year-round.
There are some special regulations that apply within the park:
- No live or dead minnows or other bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs, or roe may be used or possessed.
- Fishing from bridges and docks is prohibited.
- In Yosemite Valley and El Portal (Happy Isles to Foresta Bridge): Rainbow trout are catch-and-release only, brown trout limit is five per day or ten in possession, only artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks may be used, and bait fishing is prohibited.
Fishing supplies, including fishing licenses, are available at the Yosemite Village Sport Shop, Curry Village Mountain Shop, and at the general stores in Wawona, Crane Flat, and Tuolumne Meadows.
Yosemite is one of the world's greatest climbing areas. Climbers here can enjoy an endless variety of challenges- from the sustained crack climbs of the Merced river canyon to pinching crystals on sun drenched Tuolumne domes to multi-day aid climbs on the big walls of the Valley.
As the number of climbers visiting the park has increased through the years, the impacts of climbing have become much more obvious. Some of those impacts include: soil compaction, erosion, and vegetation loss in parking areas, at the base of climbs, and on approach and descent trails, destruction of cliffside vegetationand lichen, disturbance of cliff-dwelling animals, litter, water pollution from improper human waste disposal, and the visual blight of chalk marks, pin scars, bolts, rappel slings, and fixed ropes. Many of these impacts can be eliminated or greatly reduced by following the minimum impact practices outlined in the conservation guidelines offered on this page.
Your help is needed to ensure that Yosemite remains a beautiful and healthy place for the future.
More than 100 climbing accidents occur in Yosemite each year; of these, 15-25 parties require a Park Service rescue. Climbing in Yosemite has inherent risks and climbers assume complete responsibility for their own safety. The Park Service does not maintain routes; loose rock and other hazards can exist on any route. Rescue is not a certainty. If you get into difficulties, be prepared to get yourself out of them. Know what to do in any emergency, including injuries, evacuations, unplanned bivouacs, or rapid changes in weather. Safety depends on having the right gear and the right attitude. Practice self-rescue techniques before you need them! Courtesy is an element of safety. Falling rock or gear is a serious hazard. Be careful when climbing above others. Do not create a dangerous situation by passing another party without their consent. Be sure to read the section on "Staying Alive" in the Yosemite Valley guidebook.
At the current time, wilderness permits are not required for nights spent on a wall. It is illegal to camp at the base of any wall in Yosemite Valley. If you must bivouac on the summit, you are required to follow all regulations:
Do not litter, toss, or cache anything. If you hauled it up, you can carry it down.
If you must have a fire, use an existing fire ring.
Do not build windbreaks, platforms, or other "improvements".
Half Dome: Camping at the base of Half Dome is legal, but a wilderness permit is required. They can be obtained at the Wilderness Center next to the Post Office in Yosemite Village. To have the best chance of getting one, go there early in the morning the day before you hike up. Camping on the summit of Half Dome is prohibited.
Fight litter! Don't toss anything off a wall, even if you intend to pick it up later. Don't leave food or water at the top or on ledges "for future parties". Set a good example by picking up any litter you see, including tape wads and cigarette butts.
Don't leave fixed ropes as permanent fixtures on approaches and descents. These are considered abandoned property and will be removed.
Minimize erosion on your approach and descent. If an obvious main trail has been created, use it. Go slow on the way down to avoid pushing soil down the hill. Avoid walking on vegetation whenever possible.
If you need to build a fire for survival during an unplanned bivouac on the summit, use an existing fire ring. Building a new fire ring or windbreak is prohibited. Make sure your fire is completely out before you leave.
Clean extra, rotting slings off anchors when you descend. Bring earth-toned slings to leave on anchors.
BACKPACKING AND HIKING:
YOSEMITE VALLEY: Beautiful and majestic, Yosemite Valley boasts some of the most popular trailheads in the park. These strenuous trails lead the hiker up the seemingly sheer granite walls which form the Valley. To reach the top of such spectacles as Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point, and El Capitan, the hiker will encounter steep terrain, switchbacks, and rapidly changing weather conditions. Spectacular views from the rim of the valley reward the hiker and quickly erase memories of any hardships suffered enroute.
TUOLUMNE MEADOWS: Tuolumne Meadows is located at over 8600 feet in elevation. From Tuolumne, numerous trails lead hikers to lakes, meadows and beautiful river canyons. More strenuous overnight backpacking trips allow the adventurer access to the northern-most reaches of the Park, the area between Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley, or along extended wilderness routes such as the John Muir Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. Because of its elevation, temperatures in Tuolumne average 15 to 20 degrees cooler than Yosemite Valley. Once the Tioga Road closes for the season (generally in early November), this area is accessible to well-experienced winter enthusiasts via snow shoes or skis only.
TIOGA ROAD: This scenic 45 mile drive covers almost 4000 feet of elevation change. It begins at Crane Flat, travels through Tuolumne Meadows, and then over Tioga Pass. The road is open to vehicles from late May or early June (weather permitting) until the first major snow storm after November 1; overnight parking is not permitted after October 15th. In winter and early spring, the snow covered Tioga Road serves as an ungroomed cross-country ski route for the adventurous and seasoned winter camper.
HETCH HETCHY: The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, located in the northwest part of the park, serves as the portal to many beautiful, less-traveled areas in Yosemite. The Hetch Hetchy Road normally stays open year-round and the reservoir itself lies at a relatively low 3900 feet making this a good area for spring and fall wilderness travel. High temperatures prevail along the trail during the summer months, but this is a small price to pay for the breathtaking areas that can be reached from here. Several lakes and popular valleys are all within 15 miles of the reservoir. There is no access to Hetch Hetchy trailheads while the road is closed.
WAWONA AND GLACIER POINT: Historic Wawona at 4000 feet elevation is located just inside the park's southern boundary on Highway 41. Because of its low elevation, trails from Wawona can be accessible during the spring and fall as well as the summer. The lush open meadows, forests and lakes which abound in Yosemite?s less-frequented southern wilderness can be reached from trailheads in Wawona. The abundance of water in the spring makes this an attractive area for wilderness users. Once under snow in winter, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is designated as wilderness. Nordic skiers and snow-shoers can obtain a wilderness permit to ski through and camp in the upper reaches of the Grove.
Driving time from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is about one hour. The Glacier Point Road is generally open to vehicles from late May or early June (weather permitting) until the first major snow storm after November 1; overnight parking is not permitted after October 15th. In winter, it serves as a groomed cross-country ski track starting from the Badger Pass ski area. Badger Pass, located 6 miles from the Chinquapin turn off on the Wawona Road (Highway 41), also serves as the trailhead for numerous marked cross-country ski trails. Wilderness permits for overnight wilderness travel from Badger Pass should be acquired from the Badger Pass A-Frame.
Junior Ranger Program:
The junior ranger program consists of an activity booklet, ranger program, and litter collection.
Ranger-led junior ranger activities are available from late June through August.
Cost for the activity booklet is $3.50 (plus tax). When it's completed, the junior ranger receives a junior ranger patch.
Children ages 3-6 can complete a Little Cub activity booklet (including attending a ranger program and picking up litter).
Cost for the activity booklet is $3 (plus tax). When it's completed, the Little Cub receives a little cub button.
Plane - Several airlines serve Fresno Yosemite International (off of Hwy 41), the Merced Air Terminal (off of Hwy 140), and the Modesto Airport (off of Hwy 120).
Car - There are four entrances to the park: 1) South entrance on Highway 41 north from Fresno 2) Arch Rock entrance on Highway 140 west from Merced 3) Big Oak Flat entrance on Highway 120 west from Modesto and Manteca Hetch Hetchy Entrance (to Hetch Hetchy Valley) 4) Tioga Pass entrance on Highway 120 east from Lee Vining and Highway 395. The Tioga Pass entrance is closed from the first major snowstorm in November until late May to June due to snow. All other park entrances are kept open all year, but may require tire chains because of snow anytime between November and April.
**Visitors may drive into and around Yosemite Valley. Reservations are not required (nor do they exist) to enter the park.**
Public Transportation - Visitors can ride yarts buses from gateway communities outside the park into Yosemite Valley. Yarts and Via buses connect with Amtrak and Greyhound in Merced.