2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Backpacker Magazine – August 2008

Yosemite National Park

Climb classic Sierra passes, ogle granite monoliths, and camp above treeline in John Muir's second home.

by: Tim Shisler

Exit Strategy

>> Clean up The showers in Curry Village (866-875-8456) cost $2 (towels not provided). Need change? Buy some chocolate at the nearby Curry Village store.

>> Pig out Head to the east side of the park on CA 120 and hit the Whoa Nellie Deli at the Tioga Gas Mart (760-647-1088; Yes, a gas station–where bluegrass bands like The Trespassers jam Pink Floyd covers and the patio looks over Mono Lake. Locals passionately swear by the lobster taquitos and pitchers of mango margaritas.

>> Best dayhike: Panorama Trail Everyone knows about this eight-mile route, which traces the upper northeast ridge of Yosemite Valley and drops 3,200 feet–but few actually take the time to hike it. Buy a one-way bus ticket from the Valley up to Glacier Point, then wind past dizzying views of Illilouette Falls, Nevada Falls, and Vernal Falls, before catching the Mist Trail down to the floor. For a truly epic day, branch off at Little Yosemite Valley for an ascent of Half Dome–which will add seven miles, 2,600 feet of climbing, and a knee-crunching 4,842-foot descent.

>> Try something new Sample Yosemite's world-class rock climbing with Yosemite Mountaineering School (209-372-8344; They run clinics for rubes and masters, and even lead trips up El Capitan. Don't feel like roping in? There are thousands of boulders in the park seemingly begging to be conquered–just be sure to check for periodic "closed" signs that signal rock falls and wildlife restoration areas.

Your Permit is Ready
3 surefire ways to improve your chances of scoring a much-coveted Yosemite campsite

>> Plan ahead Mark your calendar and call Yosemite's backcountry office 24 weeks before your start date. Put the number (209-372-0740) in your speed dial. Make sure to let them know if you'll be arriving later than 10 a.m. the day of the trip. (Otherwise, they'll cancel your spot.)

>> Go to the right office Permits for walk-ins are available at any of the five wilderness centers. The busiest stations are Tuolumne and Yosemite Valley; avoid them and up your chances by stopping at one of the less-crowded offices (Tioga, Wawona, or Hetch Hetchy).

>> Start hiking outside the park Since Yosemite restricts backcountry numbers by trailheads, not campsites or zones, you can always start farther away (outside park boundaries, if needed) and hike to your destination. To access the northeastern side of the park, use the Virginia Lakes trailhead. For southeastern access, head to the Chiquito Lake trailhead. Check out for a list of links to common starting points.

You're a Tourist, Now Act Like One
If it's your first time to Yosemite, you have to visit the Valley, crowds be damned. Really, who goes to Memphis and skips Graceland? But packed parking lots and dazed tourons make the endeavor a logistical headache. The fix: Start early, park at Curry Village parking lot, and take the bus to the waterfall trailheads. Hike to Vernal Falls in the morning and Yosemite Falls in the late afternoon light–before spending the evening atop Glacier Point, where you'll see the views of Half Dome and El Cap that made Ansel famous.

The Stats
Acres 747,956
Miles of trail 800
(209) 372-0200
2007 visitation 3.6 million (total), 76,576 (backcountry)

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Zapato Brie
Jul 07, 2014

Just did a longer variation of this 2 weeks ago, starting and ending at Tuolumne Meadows for a 93 mile loop. Tough hike, but definetely worth the effort! Got things broken down by day with lots of pics, elevation profiles and panorama views here:

Oct 25, 2011

Debbie Hoffman
Mar 21, 2011

Hi Tim:
Could you elaborate on the part of the trip where the Ansel Adams campsite is located? Approximately how far from the junction of the High Elevation Trail is the creek and the fisherman's trail? Looking at a map I'm seeing 4 creek-crossings before arriving at the Lyell Fork. I'd love to find the campsite! Thanks!

Scott Sanders
Sep 05, 2008


You ARE TOTALLY RIGHT. Thanks so much for your info. Just got back from Yosemite. AWESOME!!!!

You saw my pic's but here's the website for anyone else who's interested.

Click the Yosemite link.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Burger King moving headquarters to Canada
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: star
Pacific Northwest
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: NicholasBell

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions