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#46074 - 05/02/16 02:04 PM Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question
Jammer Offline


Registered: 04/09/13
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Working out final plans for a 2016 combo Mt. Whitney and Yosemite adventure. This will be the fourth year in a row for visiting Whitney, so we've got planning and logistics down for that one. However, I have a question regarding Yosemite that I'm hoping folks more familiar with the area (I am from NC) and with Yosemite specifically, can help with.

We already have a day hike permit for hiking the cables at Half Dome. I know to camp in LYV takes the proper wilderness permit. I also know there are none available for our date at this late stage. We are fine with doing Half Dome as a long day hike, but would love to stay in Yosemite Valley the night before to facilitate an early start on the trail. From my research today, I see there is a backpacker's campground behind North Point Campground in the valley. Information I've found so far says that you can camp here the night before starting a hike as long as you have a valid permit. My question is this. Does a Half Dome day hike permit qualify as a valid permit for purposes of using the backpacker's campground the night before we start our adventure?

Would appreciate any input from anybody who knows the system at Yosemite. The information I've found so far seems to revolve around the permits for back country camping and not the specific rules related to the backpacker's campground in the valley used pre-hike and post-hike.

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#46075 - 05/02/16 04:10 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Jammer]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Gaaah!! The answer is no. mad cry

I called the Yosemite info number, 209-372-0200, and hit 3,5 over and over again until I got a live person. And that is your answer -- No.

Another way to get a permit for the backpackers campground: Get a wilderness permit for LYV. There are a few walk-ins available at 11 AM at the Valley wilderness permit office for the day BEFORE a hike starts. (The line forms early!) ...Now, if you got into the walk-in line, and got a wilderness permit for LYV, then you could spend that night (the night before your wilderness permit hike) in the backpacker campground.

(Last fall, when I was there, there were hikers getting the overnight permit JUST to get a pass to day hike the cables.)

Thinking about it, it seems like you could get a wilderness permit for ANY trailhead, and that would technically get you a free night in your bp campground. But you should call that phone number (and do what I did), and ask if the trail head matters for being allowed to stay in the bp campground. I would think that you could snag some unpopular trailhead wilderness permit, and then get that free pass to the bp campground. If the trail head matters, then ask which ones qualify.

I have driven in the night before, arriving around 11 pm and hibernated in my car in the Trailhead Parking (east of Curry Village), but I am pretty sure that is illegal. If they found you, you get fined and have to vacate the parking lot.

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#46078 - 05/02/16 04:37 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Jammer]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
another option

stay in Wawona. Drive early to Glacier Point. Hike Half Dome from there. In some ways, the views are better, only view issue is missing the Mist Trail and Nevada Falls from below, but you can do those separately as a day hike on another day

Altitude change up and down is surprisingly the same as starting from Valley floor. Rather than all-up one way, then all-down coming back, this route has ups and downs. Did this in 1993 when my sons were 9 and 11 yrs old. Took us 14 hrs round trip. Long slog at end of day coming back up to Glacier Point from Illouette Falls.

Advantages: cooler, less congested, is an alternate experience if you have done Half Dome before.(Obviously-last part is same)

Disadvantages: Where to stay? Closest to Glacier Point trailhead is Bridalveil Falls Campground on Glacier Point Rd, but I know nothing about it. Check it out. We stayed in cabin in Wawona, Yosemite West has condos, both these may need 2? night minimum and cost more than camping or Curry Village tents. Also, need to drive to trailhead rather than walk.

Just an option.

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#46079 - 05/02/16 04:40 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
I just had another thought: Find out which trail heads qualify for staying in the bp campground in the valley. If there are any with current openings on the date you need, get that wilderness permit now!

Then you have it made in the shade.

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#46080 - 05/02/16 04:44 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Jammer]
Jammer Offline


Registered: 04/09/13
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Thanks for the quick feedback from both of you!

Really appreciate the definitive answer and the effort to track down a person at the park. Wow. Your idea about getting a less popular permit is actually a good one. Will explore that angle for sure.

Also, we have considered starting at Glacier Point. Could be a nice change of pace since I have done Half Dome once before. But, my friend hasn't and may want the traditional experience. Also, I think that route is definitely longer. Finally, I love to finish the day downhill. I'm much better on descents at the end of the day. smile

Again, many thanks for the helpful responses.

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#46086 - 05/03/16 07:05 AM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Jammer]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 109
Loc: The OC
Since you will be coming from the east side after Whitney, why not avoid the Valley altogether? Instead, you can check in with the Tuolumne ranger station and see if there are any walk-in permits available.

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#46087 - 05/03/16 07:12 AM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Hobbes]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
Since you will be coming from the east side after Whitney, why not avoid the Valley altogether? Instead, you can check in with the Tuolumne ranger station and see if there are any walk-in permits available.


another east side option:

you can even do Half Dome as a day hike from Tenaya lake. MUCH longer route, but doable. You can do it going through Sunrise and JMT, or, over over Clouds Rest to get to Half Dome. Again, it is MUCH longer, but doable.


Edited by Harvey Lankford (05/03/16 07:28 AM)

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#46088 - 05/03/16 09:39 AM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I just had another thought: Find out which trail heads qualify for staying in the bp campground in the valley. If there are any with current openings on the date you need, get that wilderness permit now!

Yosemite ranger called back, since I left a voice msg yesterday, so I asked. The BP campground is indeed open to anyone holding a wilderness permit for any Yosemite trail head. Even JMT hikers leaving out of Tuolumne Meadows can stay overnight the night before in the Valley, and then catch the hiker shuttle to Tuolumne Meadows in the morning.

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#46090 - 05/03/16 12:11 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Jammer]
Golden Ram Offline


Registered: 05/14/15
Posts: 5
Loc: North Carolina
What would be the hiking distance from Tuolumne Meadows or Tioga Rd to Half Dome? If we are coming from the east might save some driving to stay and hike in from there? Also, would there be camp sites along one of those routes to make the hike a 2 day?

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#46092 - 05/03/16 12:55 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Golden Ram]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's a link to a map. It opens at the Tenaya Lk trail head. Take the trail south, follow it, and then take a left so you skip Clouds Rest.

elevation ascending estimate:
going: 2800'
returning: 2200'
Actually that is a low estimate. I left out the undulating sections of the trail.

People often hike Clouds Rest on that trail. I think it's 5 miles one way. Half Dome adds 3-4 more. Remember, you need a HD cables permit to make the climb. There is a last-minute lottery for about 50 of those 36 hours before the climb on Recreation.gov

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#46095 - 05/03/16 03:38 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Jammer]
Golden Ram Offline


Registered: 05/14/15
Posts: 5
Loc: North Carolina
Thanks Steve, got the cables permit. Looking at the Wilderness Trailheads page it looks like you can camp below Clouds Rest before the Half Dome junction along the JMT near Sunrise Creek, is that true? If we came in from Sunrise Lakes and wanted to summit both Clouds Rest and Half Dome, before returning to Sunrise, is that a good spot for the night? While it maybe legal, it might not be level. grin

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#46098 - 05/03/16 04:52 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Golden Ram]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Golden Ram
it looks like you can camp below Clouds Rest before the Half Dome junction along the JMT near Sunrise Creek, is that true? If we came in from Sunrise Lakes and wanted to summit both Clouds Rest and Half Dome, before returning to Sunrise, is that a good spot for the night?


We camped in that general area in 1993 after CR, next day HD. . Two tents. That's all I remember, but yes, you can scrounge around and find a place .Go up above the creek to find a level spot if necessary .

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#46099 - 05/03/16 05:25 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Harvey Lankford]
saltydog Online


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1550
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Originally Posted By: Golden Ram
it looks like you can camp below Clouds Rest before the Half Dome junction along the JMT near Sunrise Creek, is that true? If we came in from Sunrise Lakes and wanted to summit both Clouds Rest and Half Dome, before returning to Sunrise, is that a good spot for the night?


We camped in that general area in 1993 after CR, next day HD. . Two tents. That's all I remember, but yes, you can scrounge around and find a place .Go up above the creek to find a level spot if necessary .


Just north of the CR Junction, before you reach the usually crowded camps, there is a use trail to the WNW that crosses the little tributary creek and climbs the hill sightly to a very nice perch, better views and up out of the crowds and trees
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#46100 - 05/03/16 05:36 PM Re: Yosemite Hike Post Whitney - Backpack Camping Question [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Another option: don't go as far with the packs, stop here, and camp. In the morning, do Clouds Rest, descend the west side trail, and hop on over to Half Dome. Then take the lower trail back up to your camp site. Less distance and elevation to carry the packs.

Several years ago, I took an off-trail shortcut from the trail coming down from Clouds Rest, leaving the trail at that obvious western-most switchback at elevation 8050. It was an easy westward - downward traverse to the saddle between CR and HD. Once I got to the saddle, I angled a little more left and started climbing slightly, and easily hit the trail.

Use the Satellite View on the map, zoom in, and you can see how open the terrain is through that route.

For the return, I'd stay on the trails, passing the Sunrise Creek spot where you proposed camping.

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