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Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park

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Wilderness Permit Strategy for After Labor Day UPDATED

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Wilderness Permit Strategy for After Labor Day UPDATED
June 06, 2018 04:11PM
UPDATED June 8, 2018

Thanks, but Never Mind...we faxed in a Wilderness Permit Application yesterday and just received confirmation that we obtained a Glen Aulin permit for Sept 3rd. I had assumed that no permits were available before looking at the Full Campground report. My bad. Kinda surprised (happy surprised) to have gotten a permit so late in the game.

And there was much rejoicing. yaaah.


Hello Everyone!!! We are planning a trip to TM in September starting on Labor Day. We live in Florida and it's been 10 years since our last trip (4 days, Tenaya to Sunrise then down Cathedral Fork to Merced Lake and then down to the Valley). We just decided to do the trip and thus were too late to play the lottery for a Wilderness Permit. Since we're flying from Florida I'd appreciate any expert local suggestions on how best to strategize our entry to the Park and trying for a FCFS permit at TM. Our preferred tentative hike plan is TM to Glen Aulin, then to May Lake, then to Sunrise, then down to Cathedral lake and on down to TM.

So far our plan is:

Day 1 Early flight from Tampa to San Jose (or maybe LAX), rent car, drive to Merced, stay overnight in hotel (after gorging on In n Out Burgers, which, alas, do not exist east of Austin TX sad smiley ). We're planning on staying in Merced based on assumption that there won't be enough time to arrive, rent car and drive up to TM in time to secure a campsite at White Wolf, Yosemite Creek or Porcupine (does that sound right???) We havent booked airline tickets yet but I'm assuming that a 6-7 a.m. departure will arrive between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. PST, and a drive to Merced would take 3 to 5 hours.
Day 2 Rise super early, leave Merced, drive up to TM and get in line for Wilderness Permit. Question: For early September (i.e. on Labor Day) how early should I plan to try to get in line for the permit? Since I have no permit now and we're flying in from out of town going home isnt an option. Are people camping out all night for permits in September? If we need to be in line as early as 6-7 a.m., then when would y'all leave from Merced? Or would we be better to simply drive all the way up from the airport and try to get a campsite at White Wolf, Yosemite Creek or Porcupine Flat? My concern there is not knowing if campsites would be available in those campsites by the time we'd make it up the mountain (but leaving at 3 a.m. from Merced to get a decent place in line would be rough too). If y'all were in our shoes, what would be your best plan?

If we don't succeed in getting a permit on Day 2 I'm thinking we'd try to secure a campsite at WhiteWolf/YCreek/Porcupine and try again early the next morning, but is there another strategy or approach?

Also, I seem to remember that the road in to White Wolf campsites was pretty bumpy, and I'm not familiar with the approach roads for Yosemite Creek and Porcupine Flat. Since we'll be in a rental car (not a personally-owned SUV) which of these campsites would be our best first try based on campsite availability for Labor Day and type of road access?

We'd really appreciate any suggestions and tips you could share.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2018 09:48AM by EdelKev.
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