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Yosemite Permits

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Yosemite Permits

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:40 pm

I just got back from a Yosemite backpack. I know better, but got stuck in permit hell. Here are a few things to remember.

1) Do not believe what you are told at the entrence gates. The staff told me that the permit office in the Valley was open until 7:30 (Visitor's Center was open, NOT Wilderness Permit office).

2) Avoid getting permits at the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Office. Traffic in the Valley is bad and parking insane. They seem to give the longest LNT talks, do not seem to have any inclination to process people quickly, and do not open until 8AM and close at 5PM.

3) I totally forgot that I could get a permit from the Hetch Hetchy entrance (16 mile detour from Hwy 120). This little kiosk is very efficient and open from 7AM to 9PM. Second best is Tuolumne Kiosk - they seem to be much more efficient.

4) Do not count on rangers suggesting a trip. They will likely send you somewhere that is "good" for their objectives, not yours. I met a poor lady who was headed out to an ugly trail, through a burn area - at the suggestions of the rangers. She was mighty frustrated going down the Panorama Trail getting a glimpse of the ugly upper trail up Illioutte Creek.

5) Do not plan on picking up permit in morning if you want to get on the trail at the crack of dawn. Get the permit the night before.

6) I come in Hwy 120 - find it much better to camp up on Evergreen Road near Ackerman Creek on free FS sites, pick up permit in evening, then go in early to start the hike. Even if you have to backtrack, going to Hetch Hetchy at 7AM will be faster than waiting until the Valley office opens at 8AM. Although the backpacker's campgrounds are nice, it takes up precious time to "walk in".

7) If you depend on shuttle busses, they do not start until 7AM in summer and are on 20-minute to half hour schedule until later in the day. If you miss the first bus, you may be able to walk to the trailhead faster.

8) The speed limit is now 40 mph on most roads, with a lot of 25mph zones. From Big Oak entrance, it now takes a good 45 minutes to an hour to reach the valley, park and get to the permit office.

Others may have better suggestions. Let's here them!



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Re: Yosemite Permits

Postby rightstar76 » Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:13 am

Thanks for sharing your advice.

It's always good to know where to camp and pick up permits. Also, what to avoid.

Happy hiking!
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Re: Yosemite Permits

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:17 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:2) Avoid getting permits at the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Office. Traffic in the Valley is bad and parking insane. They seem to give the longest LNT talks, do not seem to have any inclination to process people quickly, and do not open until 8AM and close at 5PM.

3) I totally forgot that I could get a permit from the Hetch Hetchy entrance (16 mile detour from Hwy 120). This little kiosk is very efficient and open from 7AM to 9PM. Second best is Tuolumne Kiosk - they seem to be much more efficient.



The exception to this would be if you are trying for first come/first serve walk in permits (has to be done the day before you want to start hiking, not the day of). The regional offices have priority over trailheads nearest their office - if you are trying to get a Tioga Pass trailhead slot, don't count on getting it at Hetch Hetchy. By the time they make the phone call to Tuolumne Meadows office the folks who were in line on that porch since 3 am have already been inside getting their permits.

Reserved permits you can pick up anywhere. I frequently get them at Wawona on the way into the park.
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Re: Yosemite Permits

Postby snusmumriken » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:54 pm

There is also a visitors center and permit station at the 120 entrance. Drive through the gate, park in the lot immediately beyond the gate and the permit station is right there. Not sure about the hours, 9-5 probably. It's convenient if you are hiking out of a trail head on the Tioga road, as you wouldn't have to drive all the way to Tuolomne and then back along Tioga.

So here are the permit stations I know about:
1. Hetch-Hetchy entrance (year round)
2. The 120 entrance (mostly summer - self registration early and late season)
3. Wawona (not sure about exact location or seasons)
4. The Valley (winter in the Visitors Center - summer in the wilderness office next door)
5. Tuolomne (summer only)
6. Badger Pass (winter only)

I also had to stand in line a very long time this Memorial Day as the ranger went through every detail of the regulations. This was at the 120 entrance permit station, so it may not be just one ranger doing this. Maybe word has come from higher up that they have to give a more thourough LNT talk then in the past?
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Re: Yosemite Permits

Postby markskor » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:12 pm

While picking up my permit on Tuesday last, I asked if they still kept a record of all past Wilderness Permits obtained previously on file. The thought was that perhaps enough experience shown on screen will make the talk shorter...worked in the past.
When the Valley Ranger pulled mine up, he only showed 4 Permits listed. I asked why as last year, same, I saw 40+ past permits listed there.
He said that they cleared their Cache over the winter. (whatever the heck that means.)
Maybe missing that information makes the speech longer?
BTW, I still had to listen only to the barest/shortest of speeches this time...not a bother at all.
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Re: Yosemite Permits

Postby rlown » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:58 pm

I'm not sure what their record retention policy is on wilderness permit info, but i'm betting it's way shorter than 5 years. It works in their favor to remove stuff from the database. The best way to shorten the LNT speech is, yes, to have at least one or two permits from prior years on file, and try and pick the right line for the person who might give the LNT speech a fun spin. This has worked wonders for me for the last 3 years at TM picking up permits. Oh, yeah, and know the answers or they might grill you further.
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Re: Yosemite Permits

Postby EpicSteve » Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:37 am

The exception to this would be if you are trying for first come/first serve walk in permits (has to be done the day before you want to start hiking, not the day of).


Just to clarify: NPS will issue permits on the day of your hike if the trail quota hasn't been exceeded. But in all practicality, you're correct: If you want reasonable odds of actually getting the permit (and getting on the trail nice and early), you'd better get there the day before.

BTW, the Wawona office is located in the little building just left of the Wawona Hotel. Pull into the hotel parking lot and you'll find it right away. This office is closed in the winter.

When I was there last weekend, the ranger asked if I'd ever had a permit there before. I said yes, and she found me in their database. Then just before she had a chance to launch into the LNT lecture, I blurted out: "Oh by the way, I've been backpacking for over 40 years, I know to camp at least 100 feet from water, bury my waste in a cat hole, pack out the TP, leave my campsite cleaner than I found it, and my food is in a BearVault Solo canister. I also put my toothpaste, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and anything else with a noticeable smell in the canister at night." (I was worried that I may have come off as being arrogant, but I wanted to see what would happen.) She laughed and said: "You really don't want me to give you the lecture from hell, do you?" I laughed and said: "Oh, I don't mind that. Just trying to save you the time, since I could probably give the lecture myself. <chuckle>" Then she asked if I was going to build a fire and I said "No, I just brought my little backpacking stove and that's good enough for me." Then she told me that if I happened to be passing by before 5pm the next day, she'd be interested in hearing about current conditions on the Ostrander Lake trail. Very cool ranger! :thumbsup:
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Re: Yosemite Permits

Postby EpicSteve » Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:39 am

...I just remembered: Her first name is Joan. Perhaps in her late 50s? I'll defintely look for her again next time.
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