The Best Yosemite Reservation Hacks According to Experts

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We’ve all heard about Yosemite National Park’s reservation hacks. Anyone who’s endured year-long waits and staying up late to book a reservation online for Yosemite National Park knows the pain.Year after year you wake up groggy and caffeine deficient to book your camping trip. Surely there got to be a better way? Well, you’re in the right place. If you want to learn how to hack Yosemite’s reservation system. We are here to help and hopefully in a big way. 

Yosemite reservation hacks
National Park Service

The disclaimer

In no way are we asserting that you are literally hack Yosemite’s reservation system.  Because that would spell out a federal prison sentence. And I’ve seen enough movies like American Me to know that we wouldn’t last a night in the slammer. 

Nevertheless there’s nothing fun about waking up at 3:00 AM to do anything. Well, almost anything. But, you do it, year after year. And we get it. Why? Because that’s what you do to deliver on an epic vacation. 

To make matters worse, if you’re hoping to visit Yosemite National Park during peak hours from May to September. You must make a reservation to enter the park. Even if you intend to drive through and connect to another highway. 

Yosemite reservation hacks
Viator Travel

The struggle

You’ll want to keep in mind Yosemite reservation hacks are useful during May to September. This is the national forest’s busiest season and Yosemite uses a reservation system. This goes for visitors who want to drive into the park.

The National Park Service does this throughout peak hours to “help manage congestion and provide a top-notch visitor experience,” according to the National Park Service, which manages Yosemite. The system remains in place up until September 30.

But appointments can be tough to come by. Nearly 70% of reservations that were made available on March 23, were sold out through July, August, and September. Often times they still have some availability, especially on weekdays.

The remaining 30% of sites open up seven days before the day guests desire to check out. (PRO TIP: appointments for July 8 open at 8 a.m. on July 1. and so on)

According to NPS, those appointments come with a $2 nonrefundable fee and “are taken almost immediately,” according to NPS. The agency advised people wanting to book a spot under this method to have an account at ahead of time.

After creating the account, you will need to be on the website and ready with your information and payment card-immediately at 8 a.m. Those without a computer can call 877-444-6777 and make reservations by phone.

Not all is lost for those who cannot get a campsite by doing this or simply want a more spur-of-the-moment plan. Keep reading below for more tips, tricks, and hacks to elevate your Yosemite National Park experience.

Yosemite reservation hacks

Yosemite Reservation Hacks

  • Single-use plastic items are planned to be prohibited from national forests and public lands. This is a great thing for both our parks and environment. We recommend grabbing something reusable like the Hydro Flask or Nagelene, which you can buy by clicking any of the links below.   
Hydro Flask


GET a Hydro Flask Reusable Water Bottle

Yosemite reservation hacks


GET a Nagalene Reusable Water Bottle


  • Wanting to climb the cables? They’re up on Half Dome. Here’s what you need to do to get climbing an appointment. Also, read this Reddit user’s story about his climb to the top!


  • Individuals without reservations can still go into the park, not during peak hours. PRO TIP: Seek out an entrance station either before 6 a.m. or after 4 p.m – Yosemite reservation hacks
  • The park service advises that people intending to go into the park after 4 p.m. should not get there any earlier. As there’s no parking and would cause the road to be blocked.
  • If the road is blocked, the NPS states, ‘any automobiles blocking roads will be cited by law enforcement personnel.” So basically, stay away, or you’ll have to deal with the cops. 
Yosemite reservation hacks


  • Yosemite reservation hacks – Those planning to go to Yosemite for several days without a booking should still arrive at the park during non-peak hours. That’s before 6 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Even if they already have an entry station receipt.


  • The only park area that does not need an appointment is Hetch Hetchy, which people can visit anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Those who have reserved stays at in-park accommodations, campsites, a Half Dome or wilderness permit, got in the park with a licensed trip group, or through the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System- do not need to have an additional park booking, according to NPS.

Yosemite reservation hacks
National Park Service

The Wrap

As you can see, there’s no secret to the Yosemite reservation system hacks. All you have to do is follow some simple tips and tricks provided by the wonderful folks at the National Parks Service.

Adhering to their specified rules and recommendations can make for an easy, stress-free trip to one of the planet’s most beautiful pieces of nature. So what are you waiting for VICESNOB? Go out and explore your planet and be snobby with your vices.

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