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whats the deal with wilderness permits

Discussion about hiking to the top of Half Dome, planning the trip, and when the Half Dome cables are installed in Spring or removed in Fall.

Moderators: Wickett, dan

whats the deal with wilderness permits

Postby Robert M. » Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:11 am

Ive been trying to get wilderness permits for three weeks now and have had no luck I call the NPS number listed(209) 3720740 and get nothing but a busy signal from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm every day all day. After 4:00 I get a machine. Its like they take the phone off the hook! Ive sent a request by mail but no response. Ive gone online and it shows that all of the trailheads are full (reserved). I grew up just outside yosemite and I dont ever remember having to go through all of this just to go camping. my hike to halfdome is planned for next weekend and I still dont have a permit. My mom tells me that she read in the paper down there that attendance at yosemite is down and they are trying to find ways to get more people to come. I told her to write a letter to the editor of the paper telling them that all they need to do is answer the phone. My group is coming all the way from LA to make the hike to the top of half dome and we want to take our time getting up there. One overnight trip max. Are there really that many people there at this time of the year. Do they really turn people away, and if they dont have enough staff to answer the phone do they expect the public to believe that they will be checking everyone for a "wilderness permit". Dont get me wrong, Im all for saftey and I understand that they need to know who is in the park and when they are there, but I am finding that it is almost imposible to enjoy this public park unless you book reservations years in advance. SOMBODY PLEASE HELP ME ! PLEASE.......
Robert M.
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Postby tm » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:22 pm

Hi Robert,

I have alsways used the fax request to reserve permits. I send the fax at the time the office opens. I have succeeded in my first choice and TH for 2 consecutive years - Happy Isles. This year I had to change my start date by one day but then landed permits. Also, there are a number held out for walk up. Just get to the wilderness center plenty early - like 3:00am and wait for it to open.

It really isn't as bad as it seems.
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Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:17 pm

I realize it's frustrating, but you're trying to make a reservation for the most popular hike in the park, bar none.

Fax the form with several trailheads on it - make your first choice Happy Isles to LYV, then the second choice from Glacier Point down Panorama Trail. Stay two nights, the first night in Ilillouette (very easy first day) and then the second and third can be in Little Yosemite Valley. This maximizes your chances of a permit. It's very likely that the Happy Isles trailhead is booked already on the dates you are trying for. Everyone is trying to get Half Dome/LYV permits.

The other option, if your group is not large, is to get to the wilderness office in Yosemite Valley (it has priority over the Happy Isles trailhead) early in the morning. I got there at 5 am once and found three people sleeping on the porch, we all waited until 7:30 am when the office opened, and they got three of the walk up permits and I got six, then there were only a few left. You have to do this the DAY BEFORE you intend to start your hike. You can stay in the backpackers campground that night and have a leisurely day walking around in the valley with the tourists, get a fresh start in the morning, and spend the night in Little Yosemite with the crowds. The other thing if you cannot get permits the day before is to wait until after 10 am the day you want to leave, and see if there are unclaimed permits - people frequently bail and don't bother notifying the rangers.

Yes - it absolutely is that crowded. It's Yosemite. Attendance may have gone down from "incredibly overwhelmed" to "overwhelmed." You wouldn't know it to look at the traffic.

You can only reserve wilderness permits six months in advance. Many people book reservations by faxing on the first day the permits come available at 12:01 am.
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