Is Yosemite Open? Answering the FAQs About Yosemite’s Reopening

(Updated July 17, 2020)

On June 11, 2020, Yosemite National Park reopened to the public following the temporary closure due to Covid-19. But unlike normal, you can’t just drive up to the gates, pay the $35 day-pass fee (or $70 annual pass fee), and enter the park. Now, a reservation is required to enter, with capacity limited to about 50% of normal in light of the pandemic.

Everyone’s confused about Yosemite’s reopening, but with a little guidance visiting Yosemite during quarantine is easier than you may think!

As Yosemite’s top-rated guide service and tour operator, we answer a lot of questions about Yosemite’s reopening. Let’s break down the frequently asked questions surrounding Yosemite’s reopening and how to visit Yosemite during coronavirus quarantine this summer.

YOSEMITE RESERVATION FAQS

Is Yosemite open to the public, and do I need a permit to enter?

Yes, Yosemite National Park is open, and yes, a reservation is required. There are a handful of different ways to acquire a reservation, listed below.

Graphic courtesy of Yosemite National Park Service.

How do I get a reservation to enter Yosemite?

If you are driving a vehicle into Yosemite National Park, you must a) pay the park entrance fee and b) have one of the following reservations:

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, but park entrance fees will still apply.

Step-by-Step Guide For Yosemite Day-Use Reservations

What’s the easiest, most cost-effective way to get a reservation for Yosemite?

If you’re goal is to visit Yosemite on the cheap, and to NOT stay overnight, a day-use reservation is your best bet. Detailed info on how to attain a day-use reservation can be found here. Day-use permit are valid for seven days after your entry date, meaning you can re-enter the park for a week following the initial date. But be aware: day-use permits are only valid between the hours of 5am and 11pm. In other words, you will not be able to stay in Yosemite overnight with this option.

If you’re looking for the easiest, most carefree way to experience Yosemite, and to get the most out of your short visit, a private tour with Lasting Adventures is the way to go. Our admin team is quick to respond, takes care of all permits and logistics, and helps you customize your ideal Yosemite experience, plus our guides show you the intricacies of Yosemite that no other experience can provide.

A LA guide stands watch as his guests enjoy dinner during golden hour at Grant Lake. Photo: Morgan Millmore

Is a reservation the same as the vehicle entrance fee?

No. To enter Yosemite in Summer 2020, you need both a reservation (booked and paid for prior to arrival), and a vehicle entry pass. Unlike reservations, vehicle entry passes can be purchased at the park entrances upon arrival for $35 per vehicle. There is no per-person fee for entry, and vehicle passes are good up to 15 people per vehicle.

I have an Annual or Lifetime Pass. Do I still need a reservation?

Yes. These passes cover the vehicle entrance fee, but you still need a reservation if you’re driving into Yosemite.

Can I enter the park overnight?

Well, it depends on the type of permit you have. A day-use permit allows you to be in the park between 5 am and 11 pm. If you have a reservation nwith Lasting Adventures, a lodging or camping reservation inside the park, or a wilderness permit, you may enter the park 24 hours per day while your permit is valid. If the entrance station is not staffed when you enter, you must complete a self-certification card at the entrance station and display it in your windshield. You must also be in possession of a valid in-park reservation or permit.

Entering the park without a permit or valid self-certification card is a violation of federal regulations, and you can be fined up to $5,000 and/or up to six months in jail. See also: not worth it.

Camping in the park is available at Upper Pines and Wawona Horse Camp, but reservations are hard to come by. If you’re looking to camp in Yosemite this summer, your best bet is a wilderness permit, or better yet, a backpacking trip with Lasting Adventures! Photo: Shiloe Noelle

YOSEMITE CAMPGROUND FAQS

Which campgrounds are open?

At this stage, only Upper Pines Campground (50% capacity) and Wawona Horse Camp are open. Reservations are required. No information has been made available regarding if or when additional campgrounds will open in Summer 2020, but given the state of the pandemic, further openings look unlikely at this time.

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.

Are my chances good for getting a Yosemite campground reservation in Summer 2020?

Short answer: no. Long answer: heck no. Even when all 13 campgrounds are open in Yosemite, reservations tend to fill up three months in advance of the desired camping date. With only 1.5 campgrounds open currently, and only two months left in Summer 2020, your chances of getting a campsite in the Valley are next to none at this stage. You’ll have better chances booking a hotel reservation in the valley, staying at one of the hotels outside the park and getting a day-use reservation, or getting a wilderness permit and roughing it in the backcountry. Even better: join us for a backpacking/camping adventure! Even if you’re not used to camping, you’ll find we make “roughing it” easy and comfortable for our guests.

Lasting Adventures intern Shiloe Noelle (@shiloenoelleee) takes full advantage of her Yosemite wilderness permit with a view from Matterhorn Peak. Photo: Dawson Allwine

YOSEMITE WILDERNESS & HALF DOME PERMITS

Is backpacking still allowed this summer?

Yes, with a wilderness permit. All existing wilderness permit reservations for trips originating in Yosemite are still valid.

How do I get a Yosemite wilderness permit for Summer 2020?

In a normal season, wilderness permits can be acquired at the park’s ranger stations. Not this summer. Instead, wilderness permit reservations are available online via a two-week lottery. You can apply 15 days in advance of your desired start date, with the lottery running 14 days in advance. The last day to apply for a permit is nine days in advance of a trip.

What if a wilderness permit is not available or all booked up for my desired date/trail?

Don’t worry—we have you covered. Lasting Adventures acquires all our wilderness permits prior to backpacking season, so chances are we have a permit to accommodate you regardless of when and where you’re hoping to visit this summer. To find out what’s available and book a wilderness adventure, contact our admin team today.

MORE INFO

Best Bet For An Easy Yosemite Visit This Summer: A Guided Backpacking Tour
National Park Service FAQ Page For Visiting Yosemite During COVID-19 
How to Recreate Responsibly During The Coronavirus Pandemic
Entrance Fees & Park Passes
Yosemite Campground Information

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