How to Apply for a Southbound John Muir Trail Permit in 2017

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How to Apply for a John Muir Trail Permit

**Update 1/2/17: Yosemite has once again changed the John Muir Trail permit process for 2017 thru-hikers. This post reflects this year’s new guidelines**

Navigating the John Muir Trail permit process for going south out of Yosemite National Park can be confusing. Which trailhead to start on? When to apply? Will you even be lucky enough to get a John Muir Trail permit?

These are all questions I asked as I was planning my 2014 southbound thru-hike on the John Muir Trail. With over 70% of JMT permit requests being denied over the last few years, it’s important you follow the JMT application directions to a T.

Luckily, I did my research, and when I went to apply for my John Muir Trail permit, I snatched one up for my first-choice date and trailhead out of Yosemite. That said, the permit application has changed over the last couple of years with the most recent update for 2017. In this post, I share all of the information about how to apply for a John Muir Trail permit in 2017, relevant links on Yosemite’s website, and tips for increasing your chances for snagging one of these coveted southbound permits.

••• 2017 Southbound John Muir Trail Permit Quota System •••

No matter where you start your hike, anyone who is hiking along the John Muir Trail is required to carry a wilderness permit. You only need one permit for entire trip and how you obtain your permit depends on which trailhead you will use to access the John Muir Trail. If you plan on starting the JMT in Yosemite, you need to apply for your permit directly from Yosemite National Park. To apply for a permit, you must know your desired start date, where you will camp the first night, and your exit location and date. The reservation costs $5 per person, and you are only charged if your application is successful.

Permits are managed by a quota-based system in Yosemite, where the Park limits the total of number of JMT thru-hikers entering across all trailheads to 45 per day. They do this by capping the number of JMT hikers going south over Donahue Pass each day. Of those 45 spots:

  • 15 will be available through the advanced lottery for JMT hikers leaving from the Lyell Canyon Trailhead in Tuolumne Meadows
  • 20 (total) will be available through the advanced lottery for JMT hikers leaving from Happy Isles, Glacier Point, or the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead.
  • 10 will be available for walk-ups the day before the departure date from the Lyell Canyon Trailhead.
  • No other JMT walk-up permits will be available for any of trailheads, except in the rare case of a last-minute cancellations – which are not common.

••• How to Fill out your JMT permit application •••

In past years, JMT hikers used the same wilderness permit application as all other Yosemite hikers. This year, Yosemite has rolled out a separate permit application for JMT hikers.

On your application, you must indicate which trailhead you want, your desired entry date, your first night’s camping location, your trip length, exit trailhead, the number in your party, and whether you also want to apply for a Half Dome permit. I filled out the application below as an example, and I will go through each of the different parts of the JMT application below.

You can download the JMT application form & detailed instructions here.

John Muir Trail Permit Application Example for 2017

– Choosing a Date Range –

The major thing that is different this year is the Date Range section circled in red. In past years if you had flexible dates, you would have to fax in a new application every single day. This year, they have made it a lot easier for those folks who have flexible start dates within a 21 day range. Say you can start the John Muir Trail anytime in August. You would list 8/1/17 as your first desired start date and 8/21/17 as your last desired starting date. If you are unsuccessful in the lottery for August 1, you will automatically be entered into the lottery for August 2nd. This continues each date thereafter until you are either successful or you reach the end of the 3 week range. Everyday, you will be notified by email whether or not you got a permit. At the end of those 3 weeks if you never got a permit, you can submit for the next 3 week window.

– Choosing a JMT Entry Trailhead –

In Yosemite, there are several options for accessing the John Muir Trail. The first thing I recommend you do is pick up the John Muir Trail topo map pack by Tom Harrison. These maps will come in extremely handy both in your planning and once you are out on the trail. In the meantime, use this Yosemite map to help you decide on your entry trailhead.

There are four trailheads that can be used to access the JMT under the new permit system. The most popular trailheads are Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley and Lyell Canyon in Tuolumne. I used an alternative trailhead, the Sunrise Lakes trailhead, to access the JMT. The table below provides the details on these different options, as well as the quota for each trailhead. The total quota refers to the number of people.

If you are open to more than one trailhead, you can include all of them in your application and put them in order of priority. If you don’t want a trailhead – Glacier Point, for example – put a 0 next to it. This process is new, so it’s hard to say if it’s better to list just one trailhead or all of them.

Here’s what your first day on the John Muir Trail will look like depending on where you start. Also note, that starting at Glacier Point has a net elevation drop of 1,100 feet, but there is still a decent amount of uphill.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 9.46.33 PM

Happy Isles

The classic and complete north-to-south John Muir Trail route begins at the Happy Isles Trailhead in Yosemite Valley. This means that in the past, this has also been the most competitive trailhead in terms of getting a permit. If you start here, you are in for a tough climb your first day, but you will pass some of Yosemite’s most iconic landmarks, including Nevada Falls, Vernal Falls, and the junction to Half Dome. If you want to actually summit Half Dome, make sure to check the appropriate box on your application, as a separate permit is needed.

On your permit application, you will need to specify where you plan to camp the first night. Starting at Happy Isles, the two options for the first night’s campsite are Little Yosemite Valley or Sunrise/Merced Lake. For the Sunrise/Merced Lake option, you are allowed to camp anywhere along Sunrise Creek past the junction to Half Dome.

Hiking from Happy Isles, spending your first night at Sunrise Creek is preferable. While neither of these sites are going to offer solitude, the sites along Sunrise Creek are slightly more spread out. But more importantly, the additional distance you cover on day 1 means on that you will arrive at Cathedral Lakes at a decent hour on day 2, giving you plenty of time to set up camp, swim, and enjoy the amazing scenery at this pair of gorgeous lakes.

Sunrise Lakes

This is the trailhead I used to access the JMT. The Sunrise Lakes trailhead begins at Tenaya Lake, a 15 minute drive west from Tuolumne Meadows on Tioga Pass Road.

John Muir Trail permit confirmation

I chose this trailhead for several reasons. In a previous trip to Yosemite, I had done the hike up to Half Dome from Happy Isles. Earlier in the season, when water levels are high, the hike up from Happy Isles is appealing because of the magnificent waterfalls. However, in late August, when I started the JMT, most of the waterfalls in the Valley were drying up. For that reason and to see some new territory, I chose Sunrise Lakes.

The downside is Half Dome isn’t as much of an option when starting from Tenaya Lake,. However, it does allow you to make a convenient side trip on your first day up to the top of Clouds Rest, which doesn’t require an additional permit. So on our first morning, we quickly hiked up to Sunrise Lakes. We dropped our packs, set up camp, and then hiked up to Clouds Rest for the afternoon. The views were incredible and are considered some of the best in all of Yosemite.

On day 2, wet met up with the John Muir Trail at the Sunrise High Sierra Camp (mile 13.7 of the JMT), which meant that we were still able to camp at Cathedral Lakes on our second night.

A final advantage of starting at Tenaya Lake is that your car will be parked at the Ranger station in Tuolumne Meadows. From the ranger station, you take a free park shuttle to the trailhead at Tenaya Lake. Then on day 3, you pass by your car again. You may think of this as a slight buzz kill, but for us it was a huge advantage. We were able to leave some of our food in the bear locker by our car, cutting down on our weight for the first couple of days, and we also ended dropping off some gear that we determined to be unnecessary.

Glacier Point

This trailhead brings hikers past Illilohuette, Nevada, and Vernal Falls, and offers vast views of Yosemite Valley. In the past, JMT hikers who chose this trailhead did so due to the fact that it was easier to get a permit. However, leaving from Glacier Point poses additional logistical challenges since the trailhead is located about an hour from the Yosemite Valley Ranger Station where you pick up your permit. Now that the permits for Glacier Point are lumped in with Happy Isles and Sunrise Lakes, the only advantage of starting here is a different vantage point and the fact that you begin at a much higher elevation, avoiding the climb out of Happy Isles.

Lyell Canyon (Tuolumne Meadows)

The Lyell Canyon trailhead leaves straight from the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger station. There are a few reasons people choose this trailhead as an alternative to Happy Isles. First there’s a chance the permit process could be slightly less competitive. Second, it avoids the brutal climb out of Yosemite Valley.

From the Lyell Canyon trailhead, the first 10 miles of trail are completely flat, giving you an easy first day to warm up. If you go this route, your first night’s camp will be Upper Lyell Canyon.

The major downside of accessing the John Muir Trail via the Lyell Canyon trailhead is you miss out on some of Yosemite’s most spectacular scenery. Cathedral Lakes, which you would bypass, was a highlight of the JMT for me, and I think it would be a shame to miss this spot.

– Choosing an Exit Trail and Trip Length –

If you plan to hike the entire JMT, list the Whitney Portal as your exit trailhead on your permit application. You do not need an additional permit to summit Mt. Whitney.

You also need to list your trip length on your application, which is the total number of days you plan to be on the trail. The key is that you cannot be on the trail after your exit date. However, it is ok if you finish early, so I would recommend giving yourself a little leeway here. Once you know the exact number of days you plan to be on the trail, you can adjust your exit date when you pick up you permit from the rangers station in Yosemite.

– Number of People in your Party –

Make sure to list the accurate number of people in your John Muir Trail party, since each person counts towards Yosemite’s trailhead quota.

 – Half-Dome Side Trip –

If you’ve never been to the top of Half Dome, it’s a worthy side trip….but it only makes sense for those starting in Yosemite Valley or Glacier Point. If you prioritize those trailheads, then I’d recommend checking the box to apply for a Half Dome permit as well. Note that where it says “If Half Dome permits are not available” make sure to choose “Please process this request.” If you choose the other box it means that if your Half Dome permit is unsuccessful, your JMT application will not be processed.

••• Where & When to Submit your JMT Permit Application •••

The lottery occurs exactly 24 weeks (168 days) in advance, and permit applications are accepted 2 days before the lottery (170 days before your start date). That means if the lottery for your start date is on a Wednesday morning, you send your application in as early as Monday morning.

All applications should be submitted by fax to (209) 372 -0739.

You can either print and fax and submit using an online fax program.

If you end up missing the deadline for the lottery, check the Full Trailheads Report on this page before you submit your application to see which dates are full for which trailheads. If a trailhead and date is listed on this report, it means there are no advanced permits available.

••• What to Do if your John Muir Trail Permit Request is Unsuccessful •••

If you are denied a permit under the new system, your options are pretty limited, since walk-up permits will no longer be available for Happy Isles, Glacier Point, or Sunrise Lakes.

For each day, 10 walk-up permits will be available for the Lyell Canyon Trailhead at the Tuolumne Ranger’s station. Walk-up permits become available the morning prior to the day of your hike. There are reports of people camping out at the Rangers Station to get permits, so be aware that even walk-up permits can be quite competitive.

If camping in line for a walk-up permit sounds too risky, the only option you will have is to access the JMT from one of the trailheads south of Yosemite. There are several access points just south in the Ansel Adams Wildnerness. Reds Meadow near Mammoth at mile 59 is also a sensible option, since most JMT hikers stop here to resupply.

If you plan on accessing the JMT somewhere south of Yosemite, check out this link that has a complete list of all of the trailheads and the corresponding agency that you would need to apply for a permit through.

The Yosemite portion of the trail is indeed fantastic, and some people are dead set on hiking the whole trail at once. That said, the Yosemite portion is also the most crowded, and there are plenty of amazing things to see on JMT once you leave Yosemite. So if you are denied a Yosemite permit, you can still have an incredible experience even if you miss out on the first 40-50 miles. Plus, it gives you a reason to come back in a later year and explore Yosemite in all its glory.

What other questions do you have about the John Muir Trail permit process?

For more information on the John Muir Trail, visit my JMT Archives and follow my Pinterest board below.

Follow Bearfoot Theory I Kristen Bor’s board JOHN MUIR TRAIL PLANNING on Pinterest.

There are 197 comments on this post.

About the author

Hi! I'm Kristen....blogger, hiker, sunset-watcher, and dance floor shredder. I feel most alive in the outdoors and created this website to help you enjoy the best that the West has to offer.

197 Comments on “How to Apply for a Southbound John Muir Trail Permit in 2017

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  1. thank you so much Kristen!!! very insightful post, I am now considering the Sunrise lakes option because Cloud’s Rest was a sight I would definitely see again!

      Thanks David! I was blown away by Clouds Rest. We went late in the afternoon and had the whole summit to ourselves. So different than my experience on Half Dome. Good luck with the permit process!

    Sorry, I thought I typed that correctly. I don’t see Tenaya Lake as a start point on the NPS website. Is it really an option? (The earlier post was spellcheck gone wild.)

      Debbie – It’s the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead that starts at Tenaya Lake. Sorry for the confusion!

    The article was helpful, mostly because it let me know that I have been doing everything right in my month-long quest to get a permit. Yesterday I finally got a Lyell Canyon entry date for June 15th of this year – now my concern is the possibility of deep snow, new snowfall, or sub-zero cold snaps. Based on the 30% snowpack number right now, and the profoundly dry January and February, how much preparation should I do? Just an extra cold layer? Crampons? Ice axe? Personal jetpack? I want to carry what I need plus a safety margin; I just want that safety margin to hopefully be ounces, not pounds. Guidance would be appreciated.

    P.S. doing it solo. The wife will be living it up at the Ahwahnee while I’m hauling ass in the grass.

      Chuck – congrats on your permit! Very exciting. As for your early start state…it’s hard to say what conditions will be, but as you say, snowpack this year is very low. As your date approaches, I would keep an eye on this page: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm
      You might also give the Rangers station in Tuolumne Meadows a call in late May/early June. They should be able to advise you as to whether you need crampons. Either way, I don’t think you should need an ice axe. Most of the trail isn’t too steep, but I would advise trekking poles. Your shoes will also be a consideration. If there is snow on the trail, you should think about wearing some heavier hiking boots as opposed to trail runners. You could also consider something like these as an alternative to crampons:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LJBEEM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009LJBEEM&linkCode=as2&tag=bearftheor-20&linkId=V4RRTDVHU6DEBH4E
      An extra warm layer can’t hurt. Nights are pretty cold even later in summer, especially at high elevations….and in most places campfires are not allowed. Hope that helps, and if you have any other questions, let me know! -Kristen

    I had to give up a sponsorship for the PCT because I just started working(after a year of unemployment), but I’m working towards doing the JMT this fall. Soooooo glad I came across your page!

      Daniel – Thanks so much! Keep me posted on your JMT plans, and if you have questions, let me know. Love your instagram feed by the way. Beautiful photos! -Kristen

        Thanks! Yeah…so I’m planning right now and my friend and I want to aim to start around August 22nd(Monday)…which is still outside of Yosemite’s 26 weeks? So, I can fax my application Sunday for the Monday lottery correct?

          Daniel – According to this calendar if you want to get a permit for August 22nd, the lottery occurs on March 7th. That means you should send your fax in sometime after 12pm Pacific Time on the 6th (this Friday). At the latest, your fax must received by 7:30am on the 7th in order to be included in the lottery. Let me know if that makes sense. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermitdates.htm

            Hi Kristen, I am planning on sending my permit request fax in tomorrow for a July 1st start date. I just got a little confused reading this, can I send the fax in at 12:01 A.M. or P.M. ? Pacific time.

            Hey Keri – Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. it’s 12:01am pacific time.

    Is there any advantage if two people in the same group each submit a permit application for the same trip in Yosemite? Would it increase your chances of securing a permit?

      Tom – Yes. If you and a friend are planning on hiking together, I would recommend you both apply for a permit for a party of 2 (or however many people are in your group). In the case that you both get the permit, then you can just call the ranger and cancel one of them so it opens the spot for someone else. Hope that makes sense!

    This is so helpful! Thank you! I don’t plan on hiking JMT till Summer of 2016, how much of this process do you think will change by then? Also, if I were unable to get a permit starting in Yosemite and chose to start at Mt. Whitney, what’s the permit process like for that?

      Kameron – It’s really hard to say if the permit process will change. My guess is they will probably take a look at the end of this summer and tweak as necessary. I’ll be sure to update the post if that’s the case. I’m not totally clear on the permit process from Mt. Whitney, but my understanding is that it’s even more competitive because you are in the same lottery as everyone else who just wants to summit Whitney.

    Wow your site is so incredibly helpful. Thank you! There was just one thing I was hoping you might be able to clarify. You mentioned that previously permits should be submitted from 12pm the day before but that this has now changed. Do you know when they start accepting faxes. i’ll be using an online fax service to fax from Australia and am set on doing everything right. When would you recommend faxing the application? Thanks again for all the helpful info and inspiration! 😀

      Sorry if that was confusing. The time used to be 5pm, but they recently changed it to 12pm. So you can fax your permit in anytime after 12pm the day before the lottery. Let me know if that makes sense. Thanks!

    Great website! If I don’t win a lottery spot and try for the walk-up, just how early do people start waiting in line? Do some even wait two days if they are unsuccessful on the first day?

      Thanks Frank! I’m not quite sure yet how the walk up situation will be. I would imagine some people will wait that long, especially those who have already mailed themselves resupply packages along the trail. As more info becomes available on this this summer, I’ll make to update the post with what I’m hearing.

        Hey! Any update on lines?

          Charlie – I just tried calling the Ranger’s station but couldn’t get anyone on the phone today. I’ll try back later this week and see if I can’t track down some info for you. -Kristen

    Hi again Kristen,
    Just wanted to let you know I obtained a permit after only three days of trying. Super excited about this epic trek this September. Your site decrypted it all for me so I want to say THANK YOU!
    Sincerely,
    Frank

      Frank
      What trailhead did you pick?
      Did you say yes to passing through Donahue Pass?
      What time did you fax in your request?
      Been trying for a couple of weeks.
      Thanks!
      Carlin

      Frank! That’s so exciting. I’m super jazzed for ya. Can’t wait to hear all about it when you get done. And in the mean time, if you have any other questions, just let me know. Thanks – Kristen

    Frank
    What trailhead did you pick?
    Did you say yes to passing through Donahue Pass?
    What time did you fax in your request?
    Been trying for a couple of weeks.
    Thanks!
    Carlin

    Hi Carlin,
    First recommendation – Follow Kristen’s instructions on this site to a tee. All your questions are already answered there too, but here’s what I did: Fill out all three trail heads you want with the same start date (Kristen posted a link for lottery date relative to trek start date). Fill out all parts of the form. I got my first pick, Sunrise Lakes. Fax went in the day before, 4pm-ish but I recall reading you can send up to 7:30am the day of the lottery. Confirm your fax sent successfully since it’s not always a sure thing. Several of my attempts did not go through. I was floored when I received the permit email. Just keep trying and trying. Good luck!

      Thanks for chiming in Frank! I love it when the community connects. Carlin – Hope that helps!

      Frank, question. you said you sent your fax in 4pm the day before. Do you mean, the lottery date you were supposed to submit on was the day after you sent your fax. they allow that?

      Thanks
      Taylor

    Thanks Kristen!
    Do you think it’s possible to hike from Glacier to Sunrise Lakes in a day (coming from Burning Man so probably not going to be in the best shape) without pushing ourselves too much too soon?

      Mmmm. I’m not really sure exactly how far that is. On the map, it looks like it might be doable, but I can’t say for sure. Do keep in mind that your pack is going to be very heavy on the first day and you aren’t going to be used to the altitude. I definitely struggled the first day I was out there, and I think it’s a good idea to ease in to your trip.

      Oooh and also…I’m going to burning man!!! It will be my first year and I’m soooo excited.

    Ooh first timer! How exciting! This will be my third time, it’s hard to miss it once you’ve had a taste; so be prepared to go every year haha.

    One last question, I saw on the nps website they say it takes 1-2 business days to inform you of whether you received a permit or not. For my friend and I the only options are starting either on the 9th or 10th as he has to leave the country so that would require us potentially sending out a second permit application before we receive the answer on the first. Does that seem right? Do you think this would rule out our first application? Thanks! 🙂

      You know I’m really not sure. I think the best thing you can do is call the rangers station in Yosemite and ask for their advice. It doesn’t sound like it should be a problem, but would be good to check.

    My personal experience was that I would get an email the same day of the lottery at around 4pm informing me I was denied. The third day I was granted a permit, they sent me confirmation 9am on the day of the lottery. The rangers are really on top of it.

    My friend and I just got a permit starting from Little Yosemite Valley. We ended up submitting ten applications (one for each of us five times) before we received a reservation. I faxed our last attempt the afternoon of March 18th. We got the confirmation email the evening of thr 19th. Such a happy moment! Thank you Bearfoot Theory for the great advice and good luck everyone!

    Great blog and very helpful!
    This is my story…After a couple weeks of religiously faxing (gotfreefax.com is awesome!) I finally got a JMT permit from Lyell canyon trailhead starting 9/9. Then I got a bit creative…there was still trailhead space available from Happy Isle to Little Yosemite on 9/6 (but the JMT/Donahoe pass quota was full which didn’t matter because I’m covered via my 9/9 permit). So I’ll start on 9/6 from Happy Isle (secured a Half Dome permit that day as well), arrive in Tuolumne 9/8 pick up my Lyell Canyon Permit and depart 9/9.

    I had almost given up and resorted to Plan B…. hike northbound from mammoth lakes, then hitchhike from Yosemite valley back to mammoth lakes and hike southbound.

      Clever thinking Dean! I’m glad it all worked out for you. I can’t wait to to hear about it when you return.

    Hey Kristen, just wanted to say THANK YOU! This has helped me so much in the permit process. I did want to say that if you start at Happy Isles and say you are going to Little Yosemite Valley, you MUST camp at the LYV campground. You do not have the option to camp at Sunrise Creek. And although you probably know that, I was a little confused when reading. I hope they still process my request! I submitted mine today. Thanks again.

      Ben – Best of luck! I’m glad this was helpful. Regarding your comment about Sunrise Creek…this is what I just pulled from the Yoesmite website:
      “Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley, Happy Isles pass-through, Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley, and Sunrise Lakes trailheads: Permits for 20 people, all of which are available by reservation.” My understanding is that camping at Sunrise Creek falls under the Happy Isles pass-through.” Have you been told otherwise by the Park Service?

        So since the Happy Isles –>LYV quota is different than the Happy Isles –> Pass-through, they have different restrictions on where you can camp. On the website it says “The following trailheads allow (and require) you to stay at the Little Yosemite Valley Campground on the first night of your trip:
        From Yosemite Valley: Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley
        From Glacier Point: Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley
        If you have a permit for one of these two trailheads, you must spend your first night at Little Yosemite Valley Campground”

        http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trailheads.htm

        Or maybe JMT hikers are not allowed to apply for that permit since we are long distance? i’m not sure but I haven’t seen anything different.

          Hi Benjamin – The way it’s written on Yosemite’s website is a bit confusing. But I’m pretty sure those camping requirements you mention are only for people who are doing Half Dome, not long distance hikers on John Muir Trail. Just below the section about Half Dome camping, it says:

          The John Muir Trail can only be directly accessed via these trailheads:

          From Yosemite Valley: Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake (pass through) and Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley
          From Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley: Cathedral Lakes
          From Tuolumne Meadows exiting the park: Lyell Canyon
          From Glacier Point: Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley

          Also on this page, it says: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/jmtfaq.htm

          Which trailheads does this quota apply to? Will permits be available on a first-come, first-served basis?

          In order to receive a permit with Donohue Pass as your exit point from Yosemite, you MUST start at Lyell Canyon, Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley, Happy Isles pass-through, Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley, or Sunrise Lakes. Other entrance trailheads will not be approved.

          Lyell Canyon trailhead: Permits for 25 people, with 60% (15) available by reservation and 40% (10) available on a first-come, first-served basis.

          Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley, Happy Isles pass-through, Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley, and Sunrise Lakes trailheads: Permits for 20 people, all of which are available by reservation. Late cancellations will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, although we don’t expect any to be available most days.

          The “pass-thru” option means camping along Sunrise Creek. Hope that helps clarify things! -Kristen

    There are earlier permits available for the the Happy Isles -> Little Yosemite Valley, but is it pretty safe to assume that the exit quota for those days has already been reached (lottery was last week)? Is there any way to find out?

      Patti – I’m not sure about that. I think the best thing you can do is call the ranger’s station in Yosemite and ask.

    I initially applied for a permits leaving 9/5, 9/6, and 9/7. I did that before reading your comments. I got rejected for all three dates for all three requested trailheads. I moved my plans back a week (read your comments) and reapplied for 9/12 and 9/13. I was successful and even managed to get my first pick of trailheads for both dates. I cancelled the 9/13 date and will be hitting the trail with my wife Rachel on 9/12. Thanks for the great site. Your advice was a huge help.

      Awesome news Jon! I’m so glad it worked out and that this post was helpful. Can’t wait to hear about your trip.

    Hey Kristen! Planning for JMT next year and it sounds like starting from your spot at Sunrise Meadow will make the most sense. Your site has been an absolute Godsend and is the best/most detailed account I’ve come across in my research.
    I was hoping you may be able to answer a few more Q’s I have that I can’t seem to find a clear answer for on the internet…
    We will be flying into Reno from Chicago, taking the Eastern Sierra Transit to Lee Vining, then YARTS to the trail. Being from out of state, that last bit getting from Reno to the trail seems kinda hairy and the bus schedules are tough to decipher….Can we make it from Reno all the way to Sunrise in one day? Will we need to stay the night in Lee Vining (our planned change off the Eastern Sierra) or does YARTS run in the afternoon too? Do we need to stop in Tuolumne Meadows for our reserved permit? And finally do we pick up our permit the day we plan to begin JMT or the day prior?
    Thanks so much for taking the time to put together this site, it’s fantastic!

      Hi Nate! Thanks for the compliment on my site, and I’m glad the info has been helpful. Unfortunately, I really don’t know much about YART, but after taking a quick look, my question is whether you’ve thought about flying into Fresno. It seems closer and the public transit seems easier. http://yarts.com/routes-and-schedules/fresno-madera-yosemite-valley/

      You will also need to pick up your permit the day PRIOR at the Tuolumne Meadows Rangers Station. There is also free backpackers campground right next to the rangers station. I would recommend staying there the night before your hike and then taking the free park shuttle to the Tenaya Lake/Sunrise Lakes trailhead.

      Let me know if you have any other questions! Thanks, Kristen

        Kristen, I was told in my reservation confirmation email from the Yosemite Conservancy that permits were gotten the day of, early morning; from the email I got:

        General Information
        Reservations are held until 10 a.m. on the entry date, and then cancelled. Call (209) 372-0308 by 10:00 a.m. on the entry date to hold reservations for late arrival. Calls will be accepted no more than two days in advance. Reservations can be held for the entry date only.

        I’m not saying they can’t be picked up the day before, but it seems like they can also be picked up the morning of, before 10?

          Chuck – Thanks for clarifying. A second look at Yosemite’s site and this looks like its correct. I’ll update the post now. THanks! Kristen

      Nate – Another reader just corrected me. Just found this info on the website:
      “You, or another member of your hiking group, must pick up the wilderness permit at any permit station during business hours the day of, or the day before, your hike. Reserved permits are held until 10 am on the day of your trip. If you will arrive later than 10 am on the day of your trip, please call us to hold your permit for a late arrival: 209/372-0308 (this number is for cancellations and late arrivals only). Otherwise, your permit reservation will be canceled. Permits held for late arrival still must be picked up at a permit station during business hours.” Sorry for the misinformation.

        No problem at all! Thanks Chuck and Kristen, I really appreciate the info, such a big help!

        And thanks for the Fresno suggestion, It looks like that will be the better way to go. Reno was cheaper airfare initially, but all said and done with all costs its almost a wash and Fresno seems to be much less of a headache. Thanks again!

    Is it too early in the year yet to find out how the JMT walk-up permit in Lyell Canyon has been working?

    My wife and I were really angling starting our hike from Aug 15-20, but our permits didn’t get through. We’re flexible enough that we can wait 2-4d before starting our hike.

      Julian – It is too early to know since the permit swing isn’t in full effect. I think in June we should have a better sense of how many people are showing up for these permits. Sorry that isn’t more helpful! But check back in a couple of months and we will see if we can get you a more detailed answer. Thanks! Kristen

        Does anyone know how fast walk-ups are going Lyell Canyon yet?

    Kristen, amazing information…i am planning for a solo JMT hike in 2016. Hope i will get a permit

      Glad the post was helpful. My fingers are crossed for you! There is also a chance this permit process may change a bit by next year, so make sure to come back and get the latest info.

    Hi Kristin – my plans were to go into Lyell Canyon, backtrack to Cathedral Lakes, then head out. I assume that can’t happen because I am committing to my first night in the opposite direction?

      Hi Brian –

      I don’t think that would be a problem as long as you specific the right exit date over Donahue Pass and Cathedral Lakes as your first campsite. But just to be safe, I would recommend calling the rangers station to double check before submitting your application. Hope that is helpful! -Kristen

    Hi. Thanks for a very informative site.
    I have never been in Yosemite before, I’ve actually only been in the us once before (NY).

    I happen to have the whole month of july available and thought about hiking the jmt. Now im sad to hear about having to sort out permits to be able to, obviously no such thing exist in sweden where im from.

    Now to my questions, from what i gathered i will need a wilderness permit for the trail, even if i skip yosemite. So where would you start if you wanted to do as much of the jmt as possible but only applying a month ahead?

    Would it be more likely to obtain permits northbound or southbound? Considering im not getting a permit for the yosemite Section?

    What im hooping for is that someone will tell me “you can start in the trailhead xxxxxx, and hike north to xxxxx, those permits will be easy to obtain even only a month ahead”

    If no such options exist, is there a section of the pct that is doable in 2-3 weeks that people recommend? All suggestions are considered.

    Thanks again for all you effort. Looking forward to any answers.
    Cheers!
    / kiljano from sweden

      Hi Kiljano – That’s great you are planning on visiting the Sierras. They are so incredibly beautiful. Unfortunately, I do’t really know the answers to your questions since my only experience is getting a permit out of Yosemite. My best advice would be to join the JMT Yahoo Group. There are some true veterans in there, and I bet if you ask in their forums, you might get the answer you are looking for. I’m sorry I don’t have more details myself. You can join the forum here:
      https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/johnmuirtrail/info

      Also, you can call some of the offices listed on this site:
      http://hikethru.com/hiking-information/about-the-jmt-1/permits
      The rangers should be able to give you good information about where you are most likely to get a permit.

      There is also a JMT Facebook group where you might be able to get some good advice:
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/2240988980/

      Thanks for following along and please come back and share some updates with us!

      kristen

    Kiljano,
    I am in the same boat. I am going to come back with more details, then update my blog with the sites I used, but if you can’t wait….

    Go to Reservations.org, select permits (not camping), then Look at Inyo Permits. This should allow you access to Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness.
    I literally found all the entry points on other sites, asked other JMT hikers what the best stretches were (like Kristen – Thanks!), then watched Mile Mile and Half (from Netflix). From there, I matched entry points to what I could get permits to and factored in the hike to those entrances.

    I just got mine entering by Mono Pass (not Yosemite an entrance right after Silver Pass). This will give me a good 7 day pass whether I want to go a lot of local hikes and limit myself to only 40 miles of the JMT, or push hard and max out how far I want to go.

    Hope this helps – I will come back with more details, but know I spent hours and hours first trying to get into Yosemite, then looking further up the trail.

      Brian – Thank you so much for chiming in! This is very helpful. Can’t wait to hear how your hike goes. -Kristen

    Hi Kristen! Your website is amazing. I just have one question. Do I just need one permit to hike the entire trial, depending from where I depart from, or do I need a permit for every single wilderness area I will pass through?

      Kristin – You only need one permit for the whole trail and your permit is based on your starting point. Hope that’s helpful and let me know if you need anything else! -Kristen

    Thanks for all the information you’ve provided here. a mean really THANKS, you’ve helped us plan what I hope will be a great trip on the JMT this summer. We will be starting our trip from Sunrise Lake. Please confirm we’ve understood correctly (sort of just wanting a stamp of approval from someone haha) –
    – we will can pick up our permit the day before at the Tuolume Meadows Rangers Station
    – we can camp at Tuolume Meadows the night before of our entry date
    – there is a shuttle that will transport us between Tuolume Meadows to there Sunrise Lake trailhead – the schedule we don’t know but we assume it is frequent and easy to navigate

    We are thinking of leaving our car in Lone Pine and traveling up from there to Mammoth Lakes and then on the the Ranger Station at Tuolume Meadows. Organizing the transportation seems to be a bit of a headache, timings of the buses seem to be limited. Do you have any advice or thoughts around this?

    Thank, again, Kristen.

    Jessica & Mike

      Hey guys! So glad you’ve found my website helpful and pumped for you and your JMT trip.

      1) Yep – pick up your permit the day before at the Tuolumne Rangers Station
      2) Yes – there is a free campground that JMT hikers can stay at. You can’t camp right next to your car at the free site. There is camping right next to your car if you are willing to pay a small fee (I think it was $15).
      3) Yes – there is a free shuttle. There isn’t a schedule to my knowledge, but if comes frequently.

      We parked one car at Lone Pine and the other car at Tuolumne Meadows. I’m not sure about the bus, but you aren’t the first person to ask this, so I’m thinking about writing up a post on it. If you find anything out about this, I would love to hear what you learn.

      Thanks and if you have other questions, just let me know! -Kristen

        Thanks! We will hit the trail in about 15 days, eek!, and will pick up whatever info we can for you and forward it along upon our return, end of August.
        Thanks again for all your help – have just listed our your recommended campsites. 🙂
        J.

    Hey Kristen!

    Thank you for the awesome site and extremely thorough breakdown! Nothing could be further from a ‘Bor’ hehehe!

    But yeah I was just wondering if you, or anyone you know, or anyone else commenting on this, has had any experience going the day-of permit route at Lyell Canyon. I missed the window for the advance permits, so this is my only option, but it would be nice to get a sense of just how brutal this is going to be. Does anyone have any info on this?

      Hey Ryan – I did some digging and have been hearing that people are getting walk up permits for Lyell Canyon out of Tuolumne without too much trouble.

      One person told me: “I was just in Yosemite last week and the ranger at the Wilderness Center said most walkups had been getting what they wanted but not all. I asked the 5 or 6 people standing in line at 10 am if anyone was waiting for JMT permits and none were.”

      And another person said: “showed up yesterday at 10:30 a.m. and once 11 a.m. hit, had a permit for Lyell over Donahue in just a few minutes. All the permits are for next day ( this must be part of the new regs)”

      Not guaranteed…the weather has also been pretty iffy lately, so not sure if that’s keeping people away. But it sounds like if you have a couple of days of flexibility, you should be able to snag one.

        Awesome, good to hear. Thanks so much Kristen!

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up! Very thorough and informative information (this page and the entire site). Even read through all the comments.

    I was wondering about doing a South-North hike, starting from Whitney. Would the permit process be easier that way? I’ve hike Whitney many times, but only been to Yosemite once (odd, I know).

    Bummer about the advanced notice (6 months??). So much for doing the PCT this year–it’s already mid-June. Unless I do a walk-in hike, which might be an option.

    Thanks again!

      Hey Paul! Nice to connect with you outside of instagram! I think the permits for south to north are even more difficult because you are applying in the same pool as everyone competing for a Whitney permit. That direction for thru-hikers is a little less popular also because it doesn’t give you a chance to adjust to the altitude and your bag on day 1 when you summit Whitney would be very heavy. I also thought the scenery got more grand as you went south. But a lot of people do it that way, so I don’t want to discourage you. I don’t know too much about PCT permits, since that is a separate process, but excited to see where your adventures take you! If you have any other questions let me know! Kristen

        You don\’t have to compete with \”everyone\” for a Whitney permit – that is, if you could start from Horseshoe Meadows, three (or possible two, for the fit ones) days further south. It\’s a lot easier to get a permit to summit Whitney if you don\’t go down to Whitney Portal afterwards. Search for a permit from Horseshoe Meadows saying \”visiting Whitney\”, not \”exiting Whitney\”. This also gives you the advantage of being able to leave your heavy backback down in the Guitar Lake area and bring a lighter daypack to the top and back down to camp.

    Hi Kristen! Thank you so much for your great information on JMT. It is really helpful. I am thinking to hike JMT in September. I do not have an advanced permits and need to obtain walk-in permits hopefully at Tuolumne Meadows Rangers Station. I can be flexible about the start date but my concern is where I could stay the nights until I obtain the permits. I know there is free backpackers campground right next to the rangers station, which I guess only eligibles for hikers with permits…? I quickly looked Tuolumne Meadow Lodge, however it is off course fully booked. I would really appreciate your advice on where I can safely spend the night in Tuolumne. I am a solo female hiker.

      Hi! That’s great you are going to hike the JMT. There is a campground right next to the rangers station in Tuolumne and in early September you shouldn’t have a problem getting a spot. I think it was $15 a night if I remember correctly and you can park your car right next to your tent. That’s where we stayed the night before we left and it worked out great.

    Thanks Kirsten for all your posts. Myself and two friends are looking to do a thru-hike of the jmt in a couple of years. I had a couple questions. What are the conditions going to be like in early June or late May because that would be the ideal time for us during senior year after graduation. If someone in the gorup is afraid of height and/or falling what parts of the trail should we be concerned about? Due to our early start, will getting a permit out of happy isles be any easier to obtain?

    Thanks so much,
    Nick

    BTW: Saw your profile and saw that you are in henderson thats so cool because we live up in summerlin.

      Hey Nick – Love that you are going to celebrate your graduation on the JMT. Very cool!

      In terms of your dates, late May / early June could be doable, but it depends on how much snow the Sierras get that year. I would say the later you can start the better in terms of weather and bugs. Earlier dates should be less competitive in terms of permits however.

      The trail is well maintained and at no point do you encounter terrain that is technical or scary. Most of the climbs and descents are switchbacks on a well defined path, so there is no risk of falling.

      That’s cool you live in Summerlin. I actually just moved up to Salt Lake City, but I enjoyed my Vegas tenure for sure! Ok, let me know if you have any other questions. -Kristen

        Do you know of any good hikes for practicing backpacking near Vegas such as red rock, mt. charleston, or any where else close?

        Do you know of any good hikes for practicing backpacking near Vegas such as red rock, mt. charleston, or any where else close?

        Thanks so much!

    Hi Kristen,
    I found your blog via Pinterest. Your JMT info is wonderfully organized and helpful!! A couple of friends and I are in the very early planning stages for potentially hiking the JMT in summer of ’16. My one question for you is – if another friend wants to meet us for a quick weekend of hiking and camping on the trail, do we need to include that friend on our permit applications? Even though he won’t be with us for the whole JMT hike?

      Hey thanks Ash! Glad to hear you are considering the JMT. It’s an incredible trail! It depends where your friend wants to meet you, but they will likely need their own permit. If you go north to south, you will need a permit out of Yosemite that exits over Donahue Pass, so unless your friend plans to accompany you for this section, then they will need to fill out their own separate permit for whatever trailhead they plan on using. For a full list of trailheads from which you can access the JMT and corresponding permit agencies see this link: http://hikethru.com/hiking-information/about-the-jmt-1/permits Hope that is helpful and let me know if you have other questions! Kristen

        Thank you! You answered my question perfectly. And now I’m bookmarking that website!

    Hi Kristen,
    The quota of 20 per 4 trailheads. Is it 20 hikers or 20 permits a day per 4 trailheads?
    Can you please verify?
    Thanks,
    Moe

      It’s 20 permits per day. Sorry about the confusion.

    Hey Kristin!

    I am a bit confused on when to submit my permit reservation application. If I do it now will it not be looked at? I’m having trouble figuring out when the exact lottery date is for some reason!

    Hi Kristin,
    The more I read your journal entry, the more I understanding the process and things I need to do.
    I am aiming for summer of 2016 to fulfill my bucket list. 🙂
    By the way, while I was reading all your sectional trail journal, I had my Tom Harrison’s map out.
    I have to tell you I felt like I was hiking with you on the entire trail.
    Anyway, I am really appreciated all your reports and beautiful pictures.
    You have a talent and know exactly what to take a best pictures out from your view.
    keep hiking and keep posting,
    Moe

      Hey Moe! Thanks so checking out my site, and I’m stoked that you are considering the JMT for 2016. It’s an incredible experience, and I’m here to answer any questions you might have as you start your prep. Thanks and have fun out there! Kristen

    Hey! Just a few questions for you Kristen or anyone who can answer.
    I\’m just wondering how much the permit would cost after you got accepted for one?
    Also i am a little confused on the quota system. If i take the entry trail you did and get a permit do i need 20 people with me? or can i still do a walk up? thanks
    nick

      The permit is only $5….cool huh!

      I’m a little confused by your question as afar as the quota system. You don’t need anyone with you. Just state the number of people in your party on your application. For walk-up permits, it’s one permit per person. If that’s confusing let me know and we can chat more.

    Hi Kristen!

    First things first- your blog is awesome! Incredibly helpful for planning this trip! I\’m hoping to get a permit to start in late June at Glacier Point. I\’m hiking the trail with one of my best friends from college!

    Second- if we start at glacier (or anywhere in Yosemite for that matter) and plan on finishing at Whitney, do we still need to check yes for exiting over Donahue Pass?

    I\’m having a hard time understanding the Donahue Pass quota stuff!

    Thanks a ton! Keep doing what you\’re doing!

      Hey Daisy – Awesome you are doing the JMT and no worries. The permit process is conusing.

      Yes, you need to check the exit over Donahue. That’s how they tell the difference between people hiking just in Yosemite and thru-hikers.

    Hi Kristen!
    I am planning my trip now for July of 2017 and though the process may change I am filling out the permit to get an idea of everything.
    If I am planning to enter from Sunrise Lakes (Tenya Lakes South) where would I camp on my first night, and if I am entering from Glacier Point where would I camp?
    Any advice helps,
    Thank you!

      If you enter at Sunrise Lakes, you would camp at Sunrise Lakes. If you enter at Glacier Point you would camp at Little Yosemite Valley.

    Hi Kristen!

    I am in the process of planning to hike the entire JMT in 2016! Your site has been extremely helpful in planning, but I am still confused on the actual permit reservation application. The form asks for my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd date choices, yet you can only apply 268 days in advance. So if my 3rd choice opens before my 1st choice, do I put them all down and they will accept my application even though my first choice has not opened yet for applications?? I’m stressing because I don’t want to miss the correct date to submit my application, but I also don’t want to submit the application and they reject it because my first choice date is not yet open for applications. Please help!

    Thanks in advance!

      Hey Jocilyn-

      I’m not actually sure about that…and I’m currently in New Zealand so I have no way of confirming. I suggest you call the ranger and double check with them. And I’d really appreciate if you could let me know what they say so I can update the post. Thanks and good luck with the permit! Kristen

    What an incredible resource your website is!

    So on the permitting process – if we are a group of 3 Eastern flat-landers and really want to start at Happy Isle and our start date is flexible, should we:

    1) Fax in 3 applications on the due date for our 1st possible start date.
    …if it\’s rejected
    2) Fax in 3 more applications the next day…If rejected, repeat again?

    We\’re looking at hiking in late July / early August 2016 and probably have about a 10 day window for \”day 1\” on the trail.

      Hey Rick – Thanks for stopping by and glad you find the info helpful!

      Yep, what you’ve described is correct. I’m sure with the three of you trying and your flexible start date you should be successful. Good luck and keep me posted.

    What\’s the fax number to fax in the permit for the JMT? Cheers!

    Thank you for this post! I\’ve been looking for something like this for a while. Thank you for keeping it simple (when a lot of it can get confusing)

    This has been very useful.

    Hi Kristen- thanks for all the info on your website- so helpful!
    We are planning a trip for Aug/Sept this year, planning on flying in to San Francisco from London so I think our easiest way into the park will be to Merced then Yosemite valley. Do you know if there is a shuttle bus from Yosemite valley to Tuolumne meadows for if we get the Sunrise lakes or Lyell canyon trailhead? Thanks!

      Hey! So I haven’t done too much research on transportation…but I have plans to look into it and write up a post on it very soon. So stay tuned and I should be able to get some more info for you.

    Hi Kristen!! Thank you so much for your great site. You do an amazing job at clearly sifting through what can be very confusing situations. I just wanted to make sure that I’ve got this correct. So, if I am hoping to start the JMT on August 3rd 2016, I need to fax my application to Yosemite at 3:00pm Eastern time on February 16th (February 17th is 168 days from August 3rd)?

      yes that’s correct. And the park recently changed it so you can submit your application by fax any time the day prior to the lottery.

        Awesome, thank you!! Also, I saw a post here that talked about multiple trailheads being marked on the application. How does that work? Do you send in multiple apps with different trailheads or do you mark three on the same app?

          No – one app and you list three different trailheads for your first choice date. And no, all the applications that are received the day before are pooled and the lottery is random. Good luck!

    Okay, last question. Does that mean I can send in my fax at 12:01am the day before and if so, would getting it in that early help my chances?

    Hi Kristen! I want to make sure I understand. It appears I need to fill in 3 entry point choices for the same date, correct? Then in 2 days, if I am denied, I fill out a new application for the next 168 days ahead with 3 entry points on same date again….I can’t for example put in July 30 for first choice, july 31 for second choice and Aug 1 for 3rd choice because the 168 days rule would be violated by the later dates…..right? LOL. Thank you for your blog. Your information has been invaluable!

      Yep. That’s correct. I probably need to update the post, as you are not the first person who has asked this. Thanks and good luck!

    Hi Kristen,

    I am so thankful for your blog! Your website has been the most helpful I have come across so far, and I have looked a lot! I am planning my trip right now for July 2016. Fingers crossed! My group has never been to Yosemite, and we would like to hike Half Dome if we can. I am listing the choices of our group (exactly what is listed on the reservation form) and the first nights camp location to ask you if they sound accurate, and to make sure the first nights camping location is specific enough!

    1st choice: Happy Isles -> Little Yosemite Valley and first nights camp location is Little Yosemite Valley.
    2nd choice: Happy Isles -> Sunrise/Merced Lake Pass Through (no camping) and first nights camp location is Sunrise Creek.
    3rd choice: Sunrise Lakes (Tenaya Lake South) and first night camping location is Sunrise Lakes

    So, if I am correct in my understanding, the first two choices would be okay to hike Half Dome, and the third choice is where you started at, and we would get a chance to see Clouds Rest, which is the one other thing I would like to see in Yosemite. For the first nights camp location the instructions say For example, list a nearby lake, stream, mountain, trail junction or other feature you plan to camp near. Are what I have listed specific enough and plausible locations to camp at from the starting point?

    Thank you so much for you information!

    Hannah

      Yep, that sounds right to me. You can always call the rangers station to double check. Thanks and fingers are crossed for ya!

    Hi Kristen
    Awesome blog, thanks for being so thorough, however I have one question pertaining to your last comment. If all the applications that are received the day before are pooled and the lottery is random what is stopping any one person from faxing in 20 or more applications to make their chances in the lottery better?? Do people do this? I’d like to send a few, but not go overboard. Just curious as to what I’m up against.

      Zac – I would not recommend doing that. If you get caught (which I’m sure they are keeping an eye out for this), they will deny all of your permit requests. Plus it’s unfair to everyone else who is applying and following the one application per person rule.

    Hi Kristen! Do you know if you can start in Happy Isle and do the first night at Merced Lake? Then loop back to Sunrise?

      I don’t believe so on JMT permit. But you should call the ranger’s station and ask.

    Hey Kristen! I just wanted to thank you for your posts and blog! I just received my JMT permit and I used this post and all your links to make it happen. I\’ll reference this website a lot too in preparation for my thru hike. Enjoy New Zealand!

      Thanks so much and BIG CONGRATS! can’t wait to hear about it.

    Is it competitive to get an exit permit for Whitney Portal when you start in Inyo NF south of Yosemite? Do those exit dates fill up the minute they are available like the permits in YNP do?

    Hi Kirsten,

    Thanks a lot for your awesome blog! Luckily it was the first one I stumbled upon! A lot of questions got answered reading your blog but also by reading the questions and comments here. One additional/stupid question: If I want to do the JMT and I put my three choices of the entry points etc..in the fax application form and I check the box that I want to exit via Donahue Pass, how do they know on which date I exit Yosemite Valley? I\’m just wondering because of the quota for the Donahue Pass… I hope you understand what I mean. Cause the exit date I put in my application form is the exit date for my exit trailhead, correct? In this case it would Whitney Portal. Thanks a lot already for your help!
    Cheers, Nadine

      Your trail exit date is the date you plan on finishing the JMT. Don’t worry about the date you will exit via Donahue Pass. That box is just how they tell that you are a thru-hiker.

    Hi Kristen
    Thank you so much for this awesome guide, it has been a huge help in planning my trip, although I do have one question. Why are the first nights camp locations so limited? On the instruction form it simply says to list a landmark you plan to camp by, but your article makes it seem as though there are only 1-2 “correct” first nights’ camps associated with each entry trailhead.

      It’s the same application for all permits in the entire National Park, so for people not hiking the JMT, they might start at the same trailhead as you but have a different destination than those hiking the JMT. I think that’s why there’s that question on the form. Hope that helps and good luck!

    Great site, I’ve just focused on the JMT part so far. Thanks for bringing everything together and providing all the detail. My timeframe for the JMT is pretty open, hoping for a start date in late Aug to mid Sept. If I get rejected, can I just keep submiting new applications with new start dates?

      you sure can. late august to mid september should be a less competitive time as far as permits go too. good luck and let me know what happens!

    Hi, I have been entering the lottery every day for JMT the past week or so, I have gotten denied each time. The weird thing is that I am being denied before the deadline for the lottery. Do you know exactly how the lottery works? Normally for a lottery you would wait for everyone to submit their application before selecting, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    Thank you!

      The lottery occurs in the morning right after the deadline of 7:30am. You can submit your application anytime the day before through 7:30am the day of the lottery. Are you sure you aren’t submitting it too late?

    My wife and I applied for a permit from Lyell, but our dates are very limited. So in anticipation of not getting that permit we figured we would start at Mono/Parker pass and then exit the trail at Kearsarge/Onion valley (Whitney is not totally necessary). As a side note, we wanted to apply for a JMT permit from the Inyo entering Rush Creek and exiting Whitney, but we can’t secure that until the exit day arrives, and the Rush Creek trail quotas are already full. Does that make sense? Seems a little unfair. Can anyone get a permit in this way? I suppose we could get an overnight permit from Rush Creek and exit Kearsarge/Onion Valley, but it would be easier to get the Mono/Parker Pass trail head. Back to my original question: Since the Mono/Parker Pass permit is not technically a JMT permit (I swear this system is totally wack) I couldn’t put it down as a second option on my JMT permit (since there is no way to choose the exit area per choice). Can I send in two separate permits, one for the Mono/Parker Pass permit and another for the Donahue Pass permit on the same day?

    Also, an earlier comment said if you have two or people in your party all of them should send in a permit request. Is that OK? Seems fishy, but if it’s a thing you can do, I guess I would do it.

    Thank’s for the website! It’s been very helpful so far!

      Hey! To get a Rush Creek permit it’s a completely different application that you submit (I believe) to the Inyo National Forest permit office: http://www.fs.usda.gov/inyo/

      As far as multiple people applying for permits, you only have to list your own name on the application, so technically it is ok for other people in your group to submit an application (I haven’t found anything on Yosemite’s website that says this is not allowed). The only thing is if you were to both end up getting one, you would want to give up one of them to free up space for other people.

      Hope that helps answer some of your questions!

    Great site. I’ve been trying to get a permit for the last two weeks and no luck whatsoever. I’m a Canadian so planning holidays and travel times is difficult to make this work. Starting to get a bit discouraged by both the process and lack of space for this hike.

    I am still hopeful for the coming year but I really hope they receive enough feedback that they change things up for 2016. The thru rate for Donahue pass is dismally low.

      hey Rob – Totally agree that it’s frustrating. I’m sure some changes will be made in the upcoming year. At the same time, the permit quotas are intended to preserve the wilderness experience, so the people who do get permits have a better experience. My fingers are crossed for ya!

      I got frustrated so just got a northbound permit!

    Hi Kristen,

    Seriously awesome blog, made me feel a lot less overwhelmed preparing for this hike.On the permit application; is the exit date the date you exit donahue pass or whitney portal?

    Thank you!

    Sarah

      Hey Thanks Sarah. The exit date is the date you exit the whitney portal.

    It took me five straight days of faxing, but I was finally approved for two permits! Thanks so much for the awesome site loaded with great suggestions and information!

    HI Kristen, great blog. Thanks! We’re a group of 5 hoping to draw an early September permit beginning at Happy Isles TH. Question on the application regarding ‘plan to exit Yosemite over Donahue Pass?’ Which YES do you check? Gay

    Happy to say that I obtained my permit after faxing five consecutive days. Great suggestions and information!! Thanks!

      Yay Craig! That’s excellent news. Have fun out there.

    I am having a hard time figuring out how to avoid exiting over Donahue Pass. I’m on my 10th denial and hiking into September now with the permit rate I’m going…something I wanted to avoid. I can’t find much information online about alternate routes. I am not doing the whole trail but it would break my heart to not hike out of Yosemite, plan to leave the trail at Piute Pass. Any guidance is appreciated!

    Hey Kristen, Been faxing in permit request for two weeks now, Still no luck. I realize the summer months are a busy time, do you think my chances will get better as September arrives Thanks. Brian

      I’m not sure, but I think things will be less busy once it starts to get into school season.

    Hello fellow hikers! I was hoping to hike the JMT with some friends late August/early September of this year. There are a few people in my group though that are unsure of their summer plans and if they’ll actually be able to make it on the trail. What happens if we apply, get a permit, and then an individual on the permit is unable to go? Does it make our entire permit invalid? Do we need to find another individual to fill her spot? Or does it matter if we’re one person short?

      If you are going to be one person short, it’s no big deal, as long as the permit isn’t in their name. But you should call the rangers office in advance and let them know in the case that it frees up a spot for someone else.

    Hi Kristen! Super helpful article. I\’m about to apply and I just wanted to confirm: is it 12:01 AM the day before the lottery or 12:01 PM?

    HeyKristen,
    I finally got a reservation confirmation for mid Aug. after 26th rejections. I can’t believe that.
    Thank you for the information that you put onto the web. That’s really help me prepare for the permit. I am excited. I am so pumped.
    Best,
    Moe

    Hi Kristen,
    Thank you. I was able to secure two for Glacier Point to Mt. Whitney after 26 times of try.
    I heard that 2016 is very difficult to apply. Anyway, I am just let you know that information that you posted on web has help tremendously.
    Best,
    Moe

      Congrats Moe! Thanks for letting me know and you’ll have to come back and tell me about your hike.

        Hi Kristen,
        I completed in September 16th. Wow! What can I say. Beautiful sceneries, lakes. Experienced in small hails, snow flurries after Kearsarge pass junction and near 18 degree a few nights. All and all. One of the best hike I ever did. Thank you.

    Hiked the PCT from Donner Pass to Yosemite two years ago and went through Sunrise trailhead at Tenaya Lake. Climbed Clouds Rest – yes, fantastic views that we were able to take in before the smoke moved in. It’s definitely worth the hike! Then dropped to camp along Sunrise Creek and climbed Half Dome the next morning. We got an early start and were the first two on the top and had the summit to ourselves! We met the next people coming up at the bottom of the cables as we were coming down.

      Sounds like you were there the same time as me…right before that fire.

    Awesome information on the permit system. I faxed mine last night and it was sent. Now waiting to see. I decided on the Tenaya/Sunrise Lakes route. Hopefully, it get it. If not, I’ll keep trying. I do have one question. How to you obtain a permit for the Cloudrest trail, that you discussed. Do you have to reserve that now or is that available on the day that I pick up my permit for the JMT? Thanks.

      Hey Ned – Hope you got the permit! You don’t need a separate permit for Clouds Rest…you can just drop you bags at Sunrise Lakes and head up on a day hike. Have fun!

    Thank you Kristen for this excellent resource!!! I used this extensively in my prep for the JMT and I have a permit reservation to start June 1. I would like to add for your readers a few tips about the Sunrise/Tenaya trailhead for early season hikers. From this trailhead in May June and early July there will be a major river crossing right at the beginning of the trail. Park rangers said this crossing is chest high and 50-100 feet across in fresh snowmelt. They won\’t deny permits based on this but VERY strongly recommend against this trailhead if you go early in the season. Also a note that the Tioga road has variable opening dates based upon snowpack that year. The park ranger said they do not have plans to start clearing Tioga Road until June 1 of this year (2016), making shuttle services to this trailhead unavailable till that time. Hope this helps someone avoid an unfortunate surprise when they show up to start their hike.

    Hey Kristen, tremendous site! I want to do the JMT out of Lyell Canyon as a walk-up this summer (mid to late August) since I missed my reservation window. I saw your post from July 2015 that says most people aren’t having too much of a problem securing a permit through the walk-up system. I was just wondering how that may have changed as the summer progressed. Do you have any additional info on how easy or hard it has proved for people to get them? Thanks!

      Hey Raz – I don’t have any more info. The best thing you can do is call the rangers station and they can give you an idea of what’s been going on with walk up permits. Good luck!

    Hi Kristen,

    Your blog is AMAZING! I’m looking into doing the second part of the JMR (if that’s still possible as I don’t have any permits yet 🙁 this August)…sorry we Australians we are always a little behind! 🙂

    I would like to access the trail from the John Muir Ranch close to Bishop. for example, Bishop Pass Trail.

    1) where would I apply for these permits? or do I call the Ranch directly? I can only hope that there are walk-ins in this section of the trail, if there are no permits here.
    2) I don’t understand if it’s optional or not to do Mt Whitney, as there are no permits for the mountain area (only a lottery) so how can I complete the walk in Whitney Portal?

    Thank you for your advice!
    I’m considering the guided hike to EBC – you are advertising in October, let’s see how much leave I can get this year 🙂

    Best wishes, and thank you for your efforts in advance!!
    Sandra (from Sydney!)

      To enter over Bishops Pass, you’d need to apply through Inyo National Forest: http://www.fs.usda.gov/inyo/

      if you want to exit the Whitney portal, you will go over the saddle. From the saddle, you take a side trail to the summit. So the summit is optional but it would be a shame to not do it. You don’t need a separate permit for Whitney if you are granted your permit from Inyo. The lottery for Whitney is only required for people who want to enter from the Whitney Portal.

    Hi! Thanks for the insightful post! I was wondering if it were possible to apply for a later start date if you were denied at your first attempt? Thanks for any response!

    Hello,

    My friend and I are going to do the Lyell canyon route. Any info on if it’s super difficult. We were going to camp out?

      The hike from Tuolume to Lyell Canyon is one of the flattest sections on the entire JMT.

    If your permit request is denied, can you not just apply again immediately after getting notification you’ve been denied for that particular day?

    Hi – you posted this earlier this year – do you by chance have that update?? Thanks in advance!

    \”Since the 10 walk-up permits for Lyell Canyon will now be the only last-minute option for JMT-hikers leaving from Yosemite, I expect that this pattern of camping in line will continue and may even get more competitive. On the other hand, it could discourage people from taking a chance. Once summer rolls around, I will update this section with new advice based on what I’m hearing about how difficult it is to get a walk-up permit for Lyell Canyon.\”

    Hi There,

    Any updates on ‘Walk Up’s chances of getting a JMT permit in August? I’m wondering what my chances are for August 8th or so departure?

    Thank you!

    Hi Kristen,

    I am planning to trek the JMT next summer and really enjoyed reading your stories. However, something is a bit unclear to me; if your permit application is unsuccessful and it doesn’t matter when in summer you hike the trail; can you apply the next day again for 3 data that are just +1 day later or earlier than your first choice?

    Hope to get more options by doing this.

    Thanks in advance,

    Bart

      Bart – you can apply for 1 day later. 1 day earlier will already be allocated in the lottery.

    If you start the JMT at Lyell Canyon is it possible to get an additional permit permit that would allow you to hike from happy isles to Lyell Canyon?

    Hi there! This is super helpful! I was wondering if you had a written itinerary from your trip and where you started? Also, whats the best way to know how
    Many days you can be on the trail for? Was 22 days designed for your fitness level? Thanks!

      22 days is about the max because of how the resupply points are spread out.

    Hey Kristen,

    This blog is a huge help, thank you! It looks like there is now an option to apply for a range of dates and be entered into a rolling lottery. If I am a little bit flexible with my dates, is there any reason to fill out the traditional application (with one fixed start date and only one shot at the lottery) rather than the rolling application (with a shot at the lottery for every day within the date range that I choose).

    Here\’s the link to the NPS form and instructions for the JMT-specific rolling application: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/jmtfaxform.pdf

    It also looks like you can send the rolling application in 170 days in advance!

    Thanks so much!
    Alex

      hey Alex – I updated the post. you should use the new application form for 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, you did a great job. I compare for months differents posts to try to figure out how to hike the JMT.
    I live in Belgium and nobody around me did the JMT or that kind of trip.
    I have sent today my application to start my hike on 17june or 18 june 2017 from Happy Isles – Sunrise creek. With my boyfriend, we plan to cross the JMT in 17 days with one resypply at Muir Ranch.
    I am a long distance runner and ride by bicycle differents countries for month (South America, Africa) but it is my first real hiking experience. My longest was a part of the Gr20 in Corse (France) (1 week).
    I will let you know if my application is accepted.

    I saw your new post too late…
    My permit was not accepted for the June 18 and 17damn
    But indeed they say we send just one time a fax and enter the lottery for 21 days…
    I used your indication to fill it.
    I choose the période from 06/22/2017 till 07/11/2017 and 18 days trip lenght.

    Hi Kristen,
    First of all, I wish you a Happy New Year, with a lot of new experiences.
    Thank\’s for your great job. You took a daunting task and made it simple and affordable. I live in Strasbourg ( border between Germany & France ), and planed my JMT with a group of 6 students, in a date range going from July 3th to 5 th. So I’m about to apply and I just wanted to confirm: It means for us : January 15th at 3:00 PM ( 9 hours time difference between W. Europe and the W. Coast ). Am I right ? If we \’re lucky, we\’ll let you know.
    Thank you so much.
    Andre

    Hey Kristen,

    I didn\’t read the seemingly millions of comments here, so you\’ve probably heard this before, but thank you so much. This website is by the far the most useful one I\’ve found after a few hours of scouring the internet. I really appreciate your advice and guidance for this awesome trip.

    Hey Kristen

    I read your post but not all the comments…
    I’m trying to figure out what is possible if I get a wilderness permit from a National Forest north from Yosemite (Toiyabe or Stanislaus). I’ve read that only one permit is required but what about Donahue Pass restrictions? And what if I get a permit from a northern national forest and exit Yosemite to the south via Parker Pass, Isberg Pass or using the Sierra High Route?
    Thanks you so much!

    Julien

    Wow, thank you for the wonderful information. It is so appreciated. Sounds like it would be easier to obtain a permit leaving the 3 kids behind and just enjoying it with my wife.

    Is there a good way to hike half dome if your entry trailhead is at Sunrise Lakes? From what I’m reading if I start at Sunrise Lakes, and run into the JMT at Sunrise Camp at around 14 miles. Is it do-able to stay the first night at Sunrise Camp, back track to do half dome the second day, and then continue on? I have a ride lined up the day before our permit entry date – not sure if this allows for any flexibility.

      Not really. Half Dome is out of the way. If you want to do Half Dome you should come from Little Yosemite Valley.

    Hi! Your site has been so helpful in planning my upcoming July jmt hike. Recently though, it seems that your link to the south of Yosemite access points is broken and I wanted to refer it to a friend that wants to join me last minute. Could you send me the website? Thanks!

      Unfortunately that site went down. I looked for another website with that information but couldn’t find one that compares. I’ll keep an eye out to see if it comes back online. In the meantime, stay tuned for our JMT section hiking post which is coming out soon!

    I used your website to figure out how to get the permit for JMT which was so helpful! Every other website including gov’t websites were confusing. I mailed my permit request in Late June 2017 and received my permit reservation on July 2 for Lyell Canyon in September. Thank you!

    Nick

      That is so awesome to hear Nick! Please let us know how your hike went!

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