If you’re planning on visiting Yosemite National Park to rock climb this year then you’ll need to register for a permit. That goes for all climbers, not just those sleeping overnight on a wall.
In May 2021, we announced that the park was implementing the Wilderness Climbing Permit, a pilot reservation system for climbers bivying en route. New for this year, from May 20 to Sept. 30, every visitor to Yosemite will need to reserve a spot when visiting from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Climbers with an overnight permit won’t need a daily permit.
In an interview with East Bay Times, Yosemite superintendent Cicely Muldoon said, “Our goal is not to limit visitation, but flatten it out.” In 2019, over 5,000 vehicles would visit the park on weekends. The daily permit system will limit 2022 visitation to around 70 per cent of 2019.
Urs Kallen, old-school Canadian climber from the 1960s and 70s said a permit system might not have have affected climbers back then. “I think only if it didn’t cost them anything, most of these guys did not have money to spare,” he said.
“Everybody deserves a great park experience,” said Muldoon. “If we did nothing there would be gridlocked traffic all summer long, every day.”
Canadian Pete Zabrok, who’s climbed over 60 El Capitan routes, said, “The reservation system is not as onerous as feared. I believe that you need some type of reservation to enter the park now between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., but real dirtbags know the secret of coming in during the evening when the entrance station is unattended and you don’t have to pay.”
Zabrok has had experience with the Wilderness Climbing Permit, said, “Once you are in the park, the reservation system was very easy. You visit the climbing ranger who is on duty down by the Elk Cap Bridge in the center of the universe, and tell him I’ll him what route you’re going to climb. They were not asking for dates or time lines or anything like that.”
The National Park Service’s website reads: “The temporary reservation system will help manage congestion and provide a quality visitor experience while numerous key visitor attractions are closed for critical infrastructure repairs. Seventy percent of reservations for all dates from May 20 through September 30, 2022, will be available on Recreation.gov on March 23. Thirty percent of reservations will be available seven days before the arrival date (e.g., make a reservation for an arrival date of September 30 on September 23).”
The non-refundable reservation fee is $2, and the park entrance fee is $35. Each user can make one reservation for each three-day period. “For example, if a user makes a reservation for a Friday arrival (valid Friday through Sunday), the user won’t be able to make a second reservation for an arrival that Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. The reservation holder must be in the arriving vehicle and show photo ID at the entrance station.”