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Yosemite: Overnight Vehicle Permits for Big Wall Climbing

In response to the recent Park closure to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and with a June 11 reopening date, Yosemite is enacting a new permitting system requiring that vehicles parked overnight have a permit. 

Yosemite National Park is still in its early stages of reopening – currently, only park staff and designated vehicles are allowed in, but starting on June 11, the Park is moving into its next phase. This means a limited number of cars from all over the world, plus YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) buses and tour buses will be let in. In an effort to reduce the number of daily visitors by half, many new changes are being implemented.

Wayne Willoughby on Zodiac on El Cap
Wayne Willoughby on Zodiac on El Cap. Photo: Chris Van Leuven

General vehicle permits must be purchased in advance, which includes a $2 handling fee, for seven days (even for annual pass holders). Gone for now are the days of showing up from out of town and driving on a whim. Reservations to enter Yosemite are now required and can be purchased here. The link takes visitors to the new Yosemite National Park Ticketed Entry portal where names and dates are recorded and vehicle access permits are issued. There are blackout dates for days that have met their peak number of visitors. There’s also a 15-minute counter that will log out users if they take too long to make their purchase.

These new permits are just one of a new two-step process for multi-day wall climbers. For climbers who plan to spend one or more nights on a wall, they must obtain a free overnight parking permit with the Park’s climbing rangers by emailing them here. Lead climbing ranger Jesse McGahey provided the following:

Big wall climbers intending to climb overnight will contact the climbing rangers one to two days in advance via yose_climbing@nps.gov or by calling 209.372.0360 and can request an overnight vehicle permit for their trip. Details will be the name of the party, number in party, route selection, and anticipated nights on the wall. Vehicles with Valid Yosemite Vehicle Stickers (employees and residents) will also have access and do not need an overnight vehicle permit. Feel free to call/email with questions. 

McGahey says, “Normally, you wouldn’t need a parking permit for your vehicle, but to reduce crowding during the pandemic, Yosemite is limiting the number of vehicle entries to the park.”

As with the weeklong passes now required for entry, the pass holder’s name will be required to obtain the overnight vehicle permit for big walls, and only that person can use the pass. Requirements include:

Name of Party

Number in Party

Route selection (with rock formation)

Estimated dates and nights on the wall

Vehicle Registration or tag number

Contact phone number or email 

Overnight vehicle permit will be issued, and they will include the last three numbers of the license plate, permit issuing ranger’s name and expiration date. McGahey stressed that a permit is not required to climb big walls in Yosemite. Permits are only needed for the vehicles that are parked overnight.

He continued, “Most of Yosemite’s big walls begin in designated Wilderness, but due to the variables involved in this activity a wilderness permit system for overnight walls has not been implemented in the past.”

Carpooling, traveling by bus, or walking in are all acceptable means to climb overnight in the Park without needing the Multi-day Big Wall Climbs parking pass.

McGahey stresses that once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted parking permits for overnight climbs will no longer be required.

For more information, visit climbingyosemite.com. Download FAQ PDF here Overnight Vehicle Permits for Big Walls.