Camping and Hiking in the Backcountry of Yosemite National
Yosemite National Park covers 1,169 square miles, of which 1,101 square
miles are designated wilderness. It has been estimated that 95 percent
of visitors to the park never enter any of that wilderness. So if you
want to do some Yosemite backcountry camping, you can really spread
out and haul your gear to a secluded spot. But if the thought of carrying
40 pounds on mountain trails isn’t appealing, there are other,
less strenuous ways to visit the backcountry.
If you want to go it alone, or with just a few others, you’ll
need to get a wilderness permit. In order to protect the natural beauty
of Yosemite backcountry camping is limited to a specific number of hikers
per day at each trailhead. Permits are free, and 60 percent for each
trail may be reserved up to 24 weeks ahead; the other 40 percent are
available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning the day before
your hike. While the permits are free, there is a charge of $5 for a
confirmed reservation, plus another $5 per person in the party. Reservations
may be made by fax (recommended), phone or mail, but not online.
Yosemite Mountaineering School & Guide Service
If you’re new to backpacking, or unsure about taking off into
unfamiliar territory alone, the Yosemite Mountaineering School can help.
In addition to providing instruction in backpacking gear and wilderness
skills, the school can help you plan an individual trip. Or take advantage
of the guided tours for a Yosemite backcountry camping trip to some
High Sierra Camps
If there’s such a thing as luxury backpacking, this is it. High
Sierra Camps consists of five backcountry sites connected by a loop
trail. All you have to do is get from one backcountry camp to the next.
All you have to carry is your personal gear. Once you reach camp you’ll
stay in a tent cabin and eat family-style meals in a dining tent. You
can hike it alone—the trail is well marked—or with a guide,
or even travel by horse. Whatever happened to roughing it?