BEST AREAS FOR WILDERNESS CAMPING
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK748,542 acres. Located in the mountains of east-central California’s Sierra Nevada, Yosemite is one of our most famous and spectacular National Parks. Scenery here includes high rugged peaks and massive granite domes, rock formations and vertical walls, deep canyons and valleys.
Especially renowned is magnificent and aweinspiring Yosemite Valley. This area has regretfully been overdeveloped and is overused, but the park also has vast areas of wilderness which are much less visited. Top elevation is 13,114-foot Mount Lyell.
Among the high waterfalls is 1,430-foot Upper Yosemite Falls. There are also many lakes and streams, along with forests of fir and pine, giant sequoias, open meadows, and alpine vegetation. Wildlife includes mule deer, black bear, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, and coyote.
Activities: Yosemite has some 800 miles of trails for backpacking and hiking, including sections of the 210-mile John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails (see entries page 113), which coincide in the park.
Difficulty varies from easy to quite strenuous. High trails are often under snow until July. Trails around Yosemite Valley tend to be very crowded during the hiking season.
Many trails are open to horses, which may be rented in Yosemite Valley. Cross-country skiing is possible on a number of trails during the winter. Mountain bike use is restricted to roads and bike paths.
Rock climbing and mountaineering may be practiced on the rock faces and mountains here. Climbing and backpacking instruction are offered in the park. Fishing is available alongside streams and lakes. Hunting is prohibited.
Camping Regulations: A wilderness permit is required in order to camp in the backcountry. Permits may be obtained at the visitor center and several other locations in the park.
Quotas are set for each trailhead. Advance reservations are available and recommended, especially for popular trails and weekends. Reservations may be made by mail only from February 1-May 31, for the period of May 15 through September 15.
An itinerary should be included. Half of the available permits are issued in person on a first-come, first-served basis, and may be picked up 24 hours or less before starting out.
Camping is allowed in most but not all regions of the park. It’s not permitted within four miles of either Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows. Sites chosen should be at least 100 feet from trails and water sources, and one mile from park roads.
Campfires are allowed below 9,000 feet elevation, but are restricted to existing fire rings. A stove is recommended. Groups traveling more than one-quarter mile off the trail are limited to a maximum of eight. Pets are prohibited in the backcountry.
For Further Information: Yosemite National Park, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389;(209)372-0264.
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