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First Come, First Serve Permits July

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 12:05 pm
by Lauren

I apologize, this is somewhat of a repeat topic (someone just posted this question for June), but I am wondering what the chances are of getting a first-come, first-serve wildnerness permit the Friday leading up to Fourth of July weekend (July 1). A friend is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and extended a somewhat last-minute invitation for my fiance and I to join him for a few days along the trail. He should be near Tuolumne Meadows in early July, and this is the timing that works best for us.

We live in Colorado and are debating if we should plan a trip to California and chance getting a first-come permit or if we would be better off trying to make a different time/location work. I'm wondering what the first-come permit situation is like in the Tuolumne Meadows area... how early would we need to get there to have the best chances of getting a permit when they're made available at 11?

Re: First Come, First Serve Permits July

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 1:17 pm
by AlmostThere
If you want to get there really early and sit waiting, and there is one or two people going, you MIGHT. But it's a big MIGHT. 97% of the JMT permits are denied!! And you are competing with those people. They are determined. They will be there at 2 am making hot chocolate. I suppose you may be going north on the PCT rather than south to meet them, but then you are competing with people who want to do the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and then falling back on any other route they can grab. It's Yosemite, and all Tuolumne trailheads are desirable.

It would be smarter to get permits starting at a national forest trailhead and join them on the trail going north from one of the trailheads on the east side. Go to and get yourself a map, a list of trailheads, and reserve online for one of those trails - such as Duck Pass. If you could meet them earlier by a day or two, say around Purple Lake on Wednesday, or even plan to meet them at Iva Bell Hot Springs ( a lovely place for a layover) doing a trip out of Mammoth Lakes is so infinitely easier, you can roll in and pick up that reserved permit, stay in Mammoth and get a fresh early morning start riding a shuttle up to the trailhead, hike up Duck Pass, hike however long with the friends on the PCT, get off the trail at a different spot and get on the East Side Transit to get back to Mammoth, take the free in-town shuttle back to the place you parked (if you did that, you can fly into Mammoth and use public transportation to get around). You can easily see on which trailheads have how many spots available and on what days, and make the reservation. The wilderness office lets you pick up permits and rent bear cans and buy maps, and the sporting good store in Mammoth is awesome for last minute gear needs.

Re: First Come, First Serve Permits July

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 9:28 pm
by Lauren
Thank you so much for the information! Starting a few days earlier at a national forest trailhead sounds much more appealing than fighting for a permit. We've decided to change our timing and go from Vermilion Valley Resort to Mammoth Lakes. This will also help us with our shuttling dilemma. Thanks again! I really appreciate the help.