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Confusion Over Mandatory First Night Campsite

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Confusion Over Mandatory First Night Campsite

Postby Pbattler » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:10 pm

I just got off the phone with The Yosemite Conservancy and I'm a bit perplexed by what they told me. My daughter and I are planning a Red Peak Pass loop, starting from Glacier Point. Our itinerary had us at Bunnell Cascade the first night. I was told we must camp in Little Yosemite Valley, the first night, because the area is so heavily impacted. We are free to camp at Bunnell Cascade after the first night.

Although I respect The Park Service's mandate to manage the park, I don't understand why they would concentrate more campers into a highly-impacted area like LYV. I would understand if Bunnell Cascade was off-limits to camping because of the need to preserve it, but that is not the case.

Apparently, the only way to camp at Bunnell the first night is to start from Happy Isles. I'd rather not do that as I don't want to deal with the crowds in the Valley and because I've never been in the Illilouette area.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Confusion Over Mandatory First Night Campsite

Postby Phil » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:37 pm

Happy Isles is the JMT, which is the main Valley gateway up to LYV and beyond, including Bunnell Cascade. For your info purposes only, from that direction, the permit type you want is a Happy Isles > Sunrise/Merced Lake "pass through", which allows (and actually requires) you to spend that first night anywhere but LYV. For you, that means anywhere from 2 miles uptrail from LYV (just past Moraine Dome on up). That's the permit you want for that route, coming from that direction. But yes though, for starting at GP, your first night's camping with that entry would either have to be LYV going down, or up past the junction of the GP x Mono Meadow trail along the Illilouette.

However, for what you want, I would suggest that you get up into the Red Peak/Ottoway Lakes area in the opposite direction than still essentially coming up from the direction of the Valley Corridor. Camp near the footbridges below Bunnell on the way out. We were actually up there last week. In this case, your permitted entry trailhead would be Mono Meadow. Easier permit to get, not so impacted and trails crowded, better way altogether. First night's camping at Illilouette/Buena Vista Creek. Plenty of nice and legal sites at the creekside (both sides of the creek) just beyond the trail junction, then straight up almost the entire drainage, from Clark Fork a few miles up, right on up to Lower Merced Pass Lake and Lower Ottoway. No shortage of options based on distance. Gorgeous area. You will not be disappointed. Swap out the permit you have, do it this way, really. And if reservations are all taken, getting walk-up permits are usually no big deal at all.
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Re: Confusion Over Mandatory First Night Campsite

Postby Phil » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:51 pm

****And in case you're wondering why the restriction to only LYV: it's because coming in at GP is considered a sort of "cheat" for people wanting to get on the JMT...and as you seem to know, that is crowded, and Happy Isles is massively impacted. LYV is a filter point for sorting and culling the herd. Ugly scene...all of it!!

Yeah, go the other way. You should also be able to make your GP permit work, but a call to the wilderness office might be good for confirmation and/or official adjustment of your planned itinerary for permitting purposes.
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Re: Confusion Over Mandatory First Night Campsite

Postby Pbattler » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:50 pm

Thank you, Phil. We'll take a look at Mono Meadow TH and reversing our direction of travel.
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