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How To Get In And Experience The Park This Summer
Blog How to Get in & Experience Yosemite this Summer
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Brooke | 04/30/2021 | Airports & Airplane Tours, Car & RV Rentals, Horseback Riding, Nature, Photography, Tours, Tours, Transportation, Waterfalls, Wildlife |   

Accessing Yosemite National Park May 21 - September 30 requires advanced planning for 2021 using their temporary Day Use Reservation system.

Visitors who do not have "in-park" lodging reservations, a wilderness permit for backpacking, or tour reservations, must reserve a Day-Use Pass

By limiting visitors and taking precautionary measures, the National Park Service hopes both travelers and employees stay safe while they enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. 

So How Do I Get a Reservation?

Yosemite National Park has implemented a temporary Day Use Reservation system for summer 2021 based on recommendations from public health officials.  The temporary reservation system will end September 30, 2021.

Day-use permits are valid for three consecutive days for unlimited entries. Day-Use passes are not valid for overnight use (the park is only open to day-use pass holders from 5 am to 11 pm).  

To book your reservation go to www.recreation.gov for Yosemite National Park Ticketed Entry.  You will need to sign up for an account and log in to purchase tickets.

If your date is booked, there is a way to possibly get tickets 7 days in advance of arrival:  
From May 14th to September 23rd additional reservations will be available every day at 8 am PST for 7 days in advance of date of arrival.  Be sure to have a recreation.gov account created, be logged in, and ready to get your reservation promptly at 8 am PST as tickets can sell out quickly.  

For other frequently asked questions go to:  https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/covid19.htm


What’s Open?

For those that enter, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Yosemite is largely open including its over 800 miles (yes, 800) of trails. This will include popular destinations like Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point as well as some that are little less frequented like Hetch Hetchy (which you don't need day-use reservations to see this summer). While much is open this year, there are areas that will be closed such as the Bridalveil Fall trail and viewing area (closed for the Bridalveil Fall Rehabilitation Project).

Additionally, beginning in late spring, descending the Mist Trail steps from the top of Vernal Fall is prohibited from 9 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. 

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias re-opened to visitors on May 5th after being impacted by a major Mono Wind event in January of this year. There was much damage in the grove including 15 Giant Sequoias that fell during the unprecedented storm.  Like 2020, the park will not be operating shuttles into the grove this year. Visitors have the option of hiking or biking Mariposa Grove Road or hiking the Washburn Trail (the trailhead is at the eastern end of the Welcome Plaza parking lot).  You can also take a horseback ride in with either your own horses or via guided experience with Yosemite Trails Horseback Adventures.  The Grove starts about 2 miles from the Welcome Plaza at the south gate. 

The Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza will have flush toilets and drinking water. The Mariposa Grove Arrival Area will have portable toilets and no drinking water (the new bathroom structure was a casualty of the storm). Other changes include the closure of the main trail to the Grizzly Giant, but hikers can use the service road to reach the Grizzly Giant. While all other trails are open, hikers may encounter downed trees.
Bicycles and vehicles displaying a disability placard can drive on the Mariposa Grove Road to the Arrival Area. No vehicles will be allowed beyond the arrival area.

Click HERE for more Mariposa Grove information including which facilities are available.  

Learn more about current park operations

Giant Sequoias standout among the other trees in the Mariposa Grove

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia

What If You Can’t Get A Reservation?

Fortunately, if despite your best efforts you couldn’t get a reservation spot, you can gain access by reaching out to one of the following approved public, private, and specialty tours.

For those wanting to see this national treasure from a local’s perspective to get the perfect “shot” (Pat Althizer of Photo Safari Yosemite is THE local Yosemite Photoguide!) these daily guided tours are worth it. Yosemite and the surrounding region are packed with an abundance of riches, from their many sights and interesting history much of which you may miss especially on a first visit. It's pretty safe to say that you will experience Yosemite in no better way than with any of these tours!

Crossroads Tours

Discover Yosemite Tours

Photo Safari Yosemite

Crossroads Tours at Yosemite's Tunnel View

Crossroads Tours

AirBORRN Aviation/Yosemite Airways Scenic ToursAnother great option is to combine a bucket list item alongside seeing the grandeur of John Muir’s public lands. See the iconic granite walls of Yosemite Valley via an airplane tour. Get up close and personal with these mighty cliffs by going rock-climbing. Grab a paddle and test your mettle on the mighty Merced River via whitewater rafting. Explore trails Yosemite's Mariposa Grove by horseback. The options for adventures are endless.

AirBORRN Aviation (Yosemite Airways Scenic Tours)

Ansel Adams Gallery (Workshops)

Lasting Adventures (Summer Camps & Backpacking Adventures)

Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (Outdoor Adventures)

Yosemite Conservancy (Workshops & Adventures)

Yosemite Rivers Fly Shop | Sierra Fly Fisher Guide Service (Gear and Guide Services) 

Yosemite Trails Horseback Adventures (Horseback tours)


Last but not the least, you can gain access by taking public transit. Yosemite Area Rapid Transit System (YARTS) provides hassle-free service to all four of Yosemite's gateways. Schedules and routes for each vary.  Currently three buses provide daily service through the Southern Gateway with the Fresno Airport and the Yosemite Valley Visitor's Center as end points. Route information can be found here. Riding the bus is a three-fold win; no Day-Use Pass/Reservation is required, your entry fee is included in the fair, and you can sit back and just enjoy the ride!


If your origin point is further away, hopping on a train might just be the ticket. The Amtrak San Joaquins train provides service to Yosemite via partner connections with YARTS. There are two connection points, Merced to the West of the park and Fresno to the South. Head to the Amtrak San Joaquins website for more information or give them a call at (800) 872-7245. 

As Yosemite National Park re-opens, we hope this guide provides you a bit of guidance on how you can enjoy it with or without reservations.

Recreate Responsibly

#RecreateResponsibly

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Like what you see? Save any (or all) of these pins to your travel planning board(s) to give you any easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other itineraries as well as blog posts for more ideas and pins!

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