You can get a wilderness permit or reservation during three different periods. Sixty percent of reservations become available starting 24 weeks in advance and another forty percent become available one week in advance.
The processing fee is $10 per application. If you receive a wilderness permit, an additional fee of $5 per person applies. These fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
You can only apply once per weekly lottery. While there isn't an annual limit on the number of confirmed reservations you can have, you can only have six active (i.e., future) reservations at any given time.
Wilderness permits are required all year, but reservations are only available for trips May through October.
The Yosemite Conservancy wilderenss reservations office processes all permit reservation applications. Its hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. The office is closed from the third week of October until mid-November, on federal holidays, and for lunch (noon to 1 pm).
How to Make a Reservation
Reservations are available from 24 weeks to seven days in advance on Recreation.gov. You must sign up for an account before making a reservation. Reservations are first available by lottery. After the lottery, all remaining reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis until seven days in advance. Unused reservations are added to the 40% of permits available one week in advance (see below).
In order to have your best chance of success, apply for a wilderness permit is through the weekly lottery that runs 24 weeks in advance. The lottery application period is every Sunday through Saturday from mid-November through early May.
During each weekly application period, you can apply for any start dates from the Saturday through the Friday of the open period (24 weeks in advance). All applicants receive results on the following Monday and those who were successful must accept and pay by Thursday. Failure to accept and pay by Thursday will result in the reservation being canceled without a refund.
Twelve days after the lottery application period begins for any given week (i.e., the Friday 22 weeks in advance), reservations for all trailheads that still have space become available (until seven days in advance) at 9 am PT. Any later cancellations become available immediately.
The remaining 40% of trailhead quotas will be released on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov seven days in advance at 7 am PDT. Popular trailheads will fill very quickly; be logged on and ready to reserve promptly at 7 am PDT seven days in advance of your desired start date. The latest you can make a reservation is three days before a trip (although, few reservations will be available at that point). For example, to start a trip on a Saturday, the earliest you could make a reservation would be the prior Saturday, and you would be able to make a reservation until Wednesday at 11:59 pm. The first on-sale date will be April 21, 2023 (for an April 28 start date) and the last will be October 15, 2023 (for an October 22 start date).
The trip leader or alternate must pick up the wilderness permit in person at a wilderness center one day in advance (8 am to 5 pm) or on the same day (8 am to 11 am, unless held on Recreation.gov for a late arrival up to 5 pm). A reservation confirmation letter is not a valid permit.
Any unreserved permits will be available in person at wilderness centers only on the start date of the trip. Few, if any, unused permits will be available on any given day. You must arrive at a wilderness center during business hours to get a permit. All wilderness centers operate from 8 am to 5 pm. After-hours permits will not be available. In order to get a same-day permit, you must be in the park either by reservation or by entering during non-peak hours.
In-person permits are only available for same-day starts due to reduced capacity in backpackers campgrounds (as a result of the Tuolumne Meadows Campground closure).
Overnight Big Wall Climbers
A permit is required for all overnight big wall climbers. Wilderness big wall permits for climbers are free. There are no limits on the number of permits available.
Frequently Asked Questions
We now have one list of frequently asked questions about wilderness permits.
Last updated: November 30, 2023