first-come first-served Wilderness Permits | High Sierra Topix  

first-come first-served Wilderness Permits

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

first-come first-served Wilderness Permits

Postby amigo » Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:46 am

My friend and I will be in Yosemite mid-August, our first time there. We're from out east. We missed out on booking a wilderness permit for the trailhead we wanted, not too far from Tuolumne Meadows, as the reservable ones were all booked up.

How early should one arrive at the Tuolumne Meadows wilderness permit office the day before a trek to be assured of getting a first-come first-served permit? Is 30 minutes generally ok, say on a Thurs? I don't think I want to wait in line for too long but there aren't very many of these permits available.

Thanks.



User avatar
amigo
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:35 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: first-come first-served Wilderness Permits

Postby gregw822 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:58 am

How badly do you want to leave from your specific trailhead? If you're set on it, and is it's one of the more popular sites, you'd best be there plenty early. Find out what time following-day permits are issued, and be there at least an hour early. Better to wait in line than be disappointed. I don't know the specifics for Yosemite, my preference being for Sequoia/Kings, but with a bit of poking around on the internet or a call to the park you can find out the specific time that following-day permits are issued.

For Sequoia/Kings, I've never missed getting a walk-in permit for a trip. But then, I usually go solo, and I tend to use the less popular trailheads. Last summer I did a trip with three other guys, and we wanted to go over Bishop Pass, one of more popular entry points. Our desired departure date was fully-booked, so we showed up at the Mono Lake ranger station 30 minutes before the following-day issue time. We scored a permit. That's just one example, and if it were me, I would assume that the demand for Tuolumne permits is higher than the demand for east-side Sequoia/King passes.

If your departure date isn't flexible, make a couple of back-up options. For a group of two, there are plenty readily-available fantastic jumping off spots for backpacking trips in the Sierra. You'll find something, and it's hard to go wrong in the Sierra.
User avatar
gregw822
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed May 06, 2009 3:46 pm
Location: Eugene, OR
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: first-come first-served Wilderness Permits

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:30 am

They start handing out first come/first serve at 11 am in Yosemite, and release reserved permits that are unclaimed at 10 am. The office opens at 8 am (most of them).

On a weekend I would be in line before the sun rose if I wanted to get a particular trailhead for a specific day. During the week, I would get there when the office opens, try to pick up unclaimed permits for the same day, then try for the walk in for the same day, then ask for permits for the following day and stay the night in the backpacker campground.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1758
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: first-come first-served Wilderness Permits

Postby fishmonger » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:27 am

amigo wrote:How early should one arrive at the Tuolumne Meadows wilderness permit office the day before a trek to be assured of getting a first-come first-served permit? Is 30 minutes generally ok, say on a Thurs? I don't think I want to wait in line for too long but there aren't very many of these permits available.

Thanks.


I usually get there around 8am - last two summers, weekdays, the line was about 8 hikers when the office opened. That's early July. I never got a Happy Isles permit up there, but never had a problem getting same day or next day permits to start from Tuolumne Meadows, either towards the valley via Cathedral pass or into Lyell Canyon heading south, which is probably the busiest trailhead up there. In 2008, we got a same day Lyell Canyon at noon for three hikers.

As long as Happy Isles isn't your entry point, most trailheads should be available even if you're not first in line.

Not sure about the next day permit timing now that they changed the time these become available in the valley (I thought that was to make sure they can serve the Half Dome crwod better) - if that change to 11am is the case in all of Yosemite, then you probably don't even have to go there until much later in the morning.
User avatar
fishmonger
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 945
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Madison, WI
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: first-come first-served Wilderness Permits

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:53 pm

If you are coming from the west (via 120, Big Oak entrance) it is about a 10 mile diversion to get to Hetch Hetchy entrance. In the past this station has opened at 7AM. This may give you a jump on the others who are waiting at 8AM stations. Hetch Hetchy entrance station is not very busy, and unlikely to have lines. There also is very nice and free Forest Service dispersed camping on Akerman?? Creek about half way to the Hetch Hetchy station - no fires allowed, bring water. But check on the opening times for both Tuolumne and Hetch Hetchy. With funding cuts, who knows what the hours will be this summer. If you get your permit at Hetch Hetchy, it is then an hour to Tuolumne. Hetch Hetchy station also used to stay open longer- I think 9PM. I have gotten next day permits the night before - but I am not sure that works if the trail quota is full.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2606
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: first-come first-served Wilderness Permits

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:08 pm

The regional offices have priority over the region they are in - meaning if the TM rangers are too busy handing out permits to the folks in front of them to do much with the phone, the Hetch Hetchy ranger trying to call to see if there are free spots from a TM trailhead will be too late to get your TM first come/first serve permit.

They were supposed to roll out some computerized system that would streamline this whole process but the software requires a high speed connection - a bit of lack of insight there, getting software that needed a connection not possible in the park!

However, if it's not a crunch time, and there are permits available, Hetch Hetchy, or the valley office, or the wawona office, could definitely get you the permit for a TM trailhead. That could be an advantage if you are later than you wanted to be getting into the park and want to grab what's available as early as possible.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1758
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: annec89, Google [Bot], nnmarsh88 and 12 guests