On May 21, 2021 Yosemite National Park will once again require visitors to the park to have a reservation for entrance. However there are some change in 2021 that are different than in 2020.

Here is a run down on what you need to know and understand about your summer Yosemite Visit Plans.

Vernal falls Yosemite National park Female hiker
Hiker girl looking at Vernal Fall, Yosemite, USA. Nature landscape of waterfall in Yosemite National Park, California, USA with unrecognizable woman hiking overlooking view.

1 – If you already have a Wilderness Backpacking permit , Half Dome permit , Park Hospitality reservation or a Yart Bus ticket for the Summer your reservation is already complete.

Upon showing proof of your reservation and a matching photo ID at the entrance station, you will receive a vehicle permit to enter the park. This permit is valid for three consecutive days for unlimited re-entries. For those with overnight reservations, the permit is valid for the duration of the reservation or three days, whichever is longer.

If you enter the park via YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) buses, bicycle, on foot, or on horseback, do not need a day-use reservation to enter the park. Park entrance fees still apply.

2- How and when do I get a day-use reservation to visit Yosemite?

Day-use reservations are only available via recreation.gov. Day-use reservation (valid for three consecutive days for unlimited re-entries) This is a change from 2020 which allowed 7 days entry.

Reservations will go extremely quickly; be sure to have an account, be logged in, and ready to get a reservation promptly at 8 am Pacific time. If you have an annual or lifetime pass, be sure to specify that once your reservation is in the shopping cart.

Beginning at 8 am Pacific time on the following dates, most reservations will be available for the summer on recreation.gov:

First day to reserveArrival date
April 21May 21–June 30
April 28July 1–31
May 5August 1–31
May 12September 1–30
May 14–September 23Seven days advance

Starting on May 14, some additional reservations will be available every day at 8 am Pacific time seven days in advance of arrival date (e.g., make a reservation for an arrival date of September 30 on September 23).

Each user can make one reservation per arrival date. An occupant of the arriving vehicle must have the user (with photo ID) who made the reservation. The reservation is then valid for three consecutive days (including arrival date).

We changed the reservation windows based on public input, in order to better accommodate people with existing lodging or camping reservations outside the park and to allow people to plan more than a few days in advance.

3- Private lodging or vacation rental reservation in Wawona, Yosemite West, or Foresta
(Reservations for lodging or vacation rentals outside the park and in communities other than these three do not provide access to Yosemite.) Reservations for Campgrounds are also in this category.

4- I have an annual or lifetime pass that gives me free entrance. Do I need a reservation?

Yes. These passes cover the park entrance fee, but you still need a reservation if driving into Yosemite. If you have an annual or lifetime pass and are getting a day-use reservation, be sure to specify that once your reservation is in the shopping cart.

5- How much does a day-use reservation cost?

This cost is included in the park entrance fee. If you are an existing passholder (i.e., you have a Yosemite Annual Pass, America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass, Every Kid Outdoors Annual Pass, Annual Pass for US Military, Access Pass, or Senior Pass), the non-refundable reservation fee is $2.

If you cancel a day-use reservation ($35), you will receive a $33 refund ($2 of the fee is non-refundable).

You need one reservation per vehicle and the reservation is valid for everyone inside the vehicle.

6- Why is the pass valid for three days instead of seven days?

In response to public feedback, we are temporarily shortening the period a pass is valid in order to increase the number of reservations available. The three-day pass allows us to offer an additional 950–1,850 day-use reservations each week to accomplish a similar level of visitation compared to our traditional seven-day pass. On average, almost 90% of visitors not staying overnight inside the park visit for three or fewer consecutive days. The three-day permit also allows reservation holders to enter the park on any day during their reservation (with the seven-day permit in 2020, reservation holders were required to arrive on the first day). Finally, if you will be visiting longer than three days, you can use the entrance fees associated with your two reservations to upgrade to a Yosemite annual pass (covers entrance fees at Yosemite for 12 months) for no additional charge (or an interagency annual pass valid for entrance fees at all national parks for $10 more).

7- I have a reservation inside the park that is longer than three days. Do I need to pay the entrance fee twice?

If you have a reservation for one of the following, your entrance fee will be valid for the duration of your reservation or three days, whichever is longer:

7- Do I have to arrive on the first day of my day-use reservation?

No. This is a huge difference from 2020.

One of the benefits of changing to a three-day reservation is that you don’t have to arrive on the first day of your reservation. However, your day-use permit is still valid for the three consecutive days starting with the arrival date on the reservation (i.e., if you arrive on the third day of your reservation, you can only use it for that day). Day-use permits are valid from 5 am to 11 pm each day. Day-use permit holders may not be in the park between 11 pm and 5 am (overnight).

8- What if my group is arriving in more than one vehicle?

A day-use reservation is required for each vehicle (or motorcycle) that enters the park. The person whose name is on the reservation must be in the vehicle with a valid photo ID.

Groups with lodging or camping reservations, wilderness permits, and Half Dome permits may arrive in more than one vehicle. An occupant in each vehicle must provide a copy or photo of the driver license belonging to the person who made the reservation (as well as a copy of the reservation) to be permitted to enter.

9- Do I need a reservation to enter the park if I have a reservation for a campground or lodging accommodation located outside of Yosemite National Park?

Yes. You must have a day-use reservation to drive a personal vehicle into the park.

Are same-day reservations available? Can I wait at the entrance station and enter the park if people with reservations don’t show up?

No. Reservations are not available at entrance stations. You can check recreation.gov before you arrive to the park to see if any cancellations have become available.

10 – Do I need a day-use reservation if I am just driving through the park?

Another Change from 2020 – You can drive through the park to reach a destination on the other side of the park without a reservation. The entrance station ranger will provide a time-stamped permit valid for the time needed to travel from entrance to entrance. You must drive the most direct route to exit the park; stopping is prohibited. Violating park regulations can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.

The park entrance fee still applies and provides access to visit Hetch Hetchy during open hours.

How much is the park limiting vehicle access to Yosemite under the day-use reservation system?

The park is limiting vehicles based on a percentage of June 2019 visitation. The percentage is based on public health conditions using California’s color-tiered system:

  • Yellow (minimal) tier: 80% (5,760 vehicles per day)
  • Orange (moderate) tier: 70% (5,040 vehicles per day)
  • Red (substantial) tier: 60% (4,320 vehicles per day)
  • Purple (widespread) tier: 50% (3,600 vehicles per day)

The day-use reservation system has been designed to be flexible and adaptive to conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How does the number of day-use reservations compare to 2020?

The reservation system is based on number of vehicles entering Yosemite. Overall, more vehicles will be allowed in the park compared to 2020 if the park is in the red or better tier. The opening of more lodging and camping facilities inside the park means more vehicles entering the park will be staying overnight inside the park, making fewer day-use reservations available at the more restrictive tier

Which campgrounds will open in 2021?

Reservations are required for all open campgrounds in 2021. There will be no first-come, first-served campgrounds open.

The following campgrounds will be open with reduced capacity to allow for social distancing:

  • Upper Pines (all year)
  • Lower Pines (April 19–October 25)
  • North Pines (April 15–November 1)
  • Camp 4 (spring opening date to be determined)
  • Wawona (June 15–October 25) for RVs/trailers with toilets (no restrooms available)
  • Bridalveil Creek (July 15–September 6)
  • Tuolumne Meadows Campground (July 15–September 20)

Are any first-come, first-served campgrounds open?

No. Do not come to Yosemite without an overnight reservation if you are intending to stay overnight. Same-day reservations are also not available.

Yosemite Destinations

Are any areas of the park closed?

All areas of the park will be open in 2021. Tioga and Glacier Point Roads typically open sometime in late May or June. Due to public health and safety concerns, some facilities are closed.

Open with modifications:

  • Descending the Mist Trail steps from the top of Vernal Fall is prohibited from9 am to 4 pm. To return to the trailhead, continue hiking uphill to Clark Point (500 feet additional elevation gain), then down the John Muir Trail. The trail from the top of Vernal Fall to Clark Point is a steep uphill climb and has no shade.Take frequent breaks, drink water often and eat salty snacks to maintain the proper balance of electrolytes.
  • Hetch Hetchy Road will only be open from 8 am to 5 pm.

Closed:

  • Lower Yosemite Fall boulders (the area between the footbridge/viewing area and the waterfall)
  • Bridalveil Fall area (this area is closed due to scheduled maintenance work)
  • Crane Flat Helibase

How do I visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias without a shuttle?

Once the Mariposa Grove reopens in spring, parking is available (until full) at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. Access to Mariposa Grove is via a two-mile hike (each way) on the Washburn Trail or the Mariposa Grove Road (each have approximately 500 feet in elevation gain). Several miles of trails are available in the grove from that point.

You may also bicycle on the paved portion of Mariposa Grove Road to the Grizzly Giant parking area. Bicycles are not allowed on trails, unpaved roads, sidewalks, or boardwalks.

If you have a disability, or are traveling in the same vehicle as a person with a disability, and the vehicle has a disability placard or license plate, you may drive on the Mariposa Grove Road as far as the Grizzly Giant parking area.

What is different about visiting Wawona?

Wawona is open. Wawona Hotel opens June 10. Wawona Campground opens June 15 for RVs/trailers with toilets (no restrooms available). However, Wawona Golf Course is closed for maintenance. Wawona Visitor Center (Hill’s Studio) is closed, but wilderness permits will be available on the porch later in spring. Wawona Stable is closed. A visitor information desk is available at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. The Pioneer Yosemite History Center is open (without staffing or stage rides).

What is different about visiting Glacier Point?

Glacier Point Road and Glacier Point will be open (the road usually opens sometime in May). The Glacier Point Tour is not operating.

Note: Glacier Point Road will be closed to all traffic in 2022 to rehabilitate and improve the road.

What is different about visiting Yosemite Valley?

Yosemite Valley is open. A visitor information desk and limited Yosemite Conservancy bookstore sales are available outside the Valley Visitor Center. The Happy Isles Art and Nature Center, the Valley Visitor Center Theater (including park films), and Yosemite Museum are closed, however, the Indian Cultural Village is open. the Valley Wilderness Center opens on April 30. All campgrounds and lodging facilities are open at reduced capacity.

There is no shuttle service in Yosemite Valley. Please consider walking or cycling to reduce vehicle use when possible.

What is different about visiting the Crane Flat Area?

The Crane Flat area, including Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias, as well as the Crane Flat Gas Station, is open. Rangers will be providing visitor information and wilderness permits outside the Big Oak Flat Information Station later in spring. Crane Flat Store is closed.

What is different about visiting Hetch Hetchy?

The Hetch Hetchy area is open with day-use reservations not required. However, access is limited when parking fills. Hetch Hetchy Road is only open from 8 am to 5 pm. Day visitors must exit the area prior to 5 pm.

What is different about visiting Tioga Road and Tuolumne Meadows?

Spring opening operations on Tioga Road start in mid-April, with the road typically opening in late May or June. Tuolumne Meadows Campground opens on July 15. Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center will have an information desk outside and wilderness permits will be available outside the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center. We don’t know yet if Tuolumne Meadows store, post office, and grill will open. White Wolf Lodge, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, and High Sierra Camps and will not open this year. The Tuolumne Meadows Shuttle and Tuolumne Meadows Tour and Hikers Bus will not operate this year.

YARTS is operating its regional transit system with reduced capacity (30 people per bus, with 22 available by reservation—reservations are strongly recommended). Visit https://www.yarts.com/ for more information.

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