Here are a bunch of ways to avoid needing to get a vehicle reservation for day-use:
1. Visit before May 20 or after September 30, 2022.
If you’re planning a trip before or after the dates when the reservation system is in place, you can simply pay the entrance fee at the gate and enjoy the park. No day-use vehicle reservations are required. And there is no doubt that there is plenty to see and do in the early spring, late fall, and winter months when the park is naturally quieter.
2. Make a lodging or camping reservation inside the park.
If you have a lodging or camping reservation inside the park, you will NOT need an additional day-use reservation. This includes hotels like The Ahwahnee, Curry Village, Housekeeping Camp, Wawona Hotel, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, or White Wolf Lodge, as well as vacation rentals in Yosemite West, Wawona or Foresta, or campgrounds inside the park like Upper Pines or Hodgdon Meadow.
If you aren’t sure if the lodging reservation that you have is inside or outside the park, be sure to check with the people that you made a reservation with.
If your lodging or camping reservation is outside the park, you will need to get a vehicle reservation to enter the park during peak hours.
3. Use some form of transportation other than your personal vehicle
There are plenty of ways to get into the park without driving your personal vehicle. If that was your plan, forget about this temporary vehicle reservation for day use. You’re all set if you planned to enter the park using one of these alternative transportation options:
- YARTS: During the summer, YARTS – the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System operates bus lines that enter Yosemite from Highway 140, 41 and 120 from the towns of Merced, Mariposa, El Portal, Fresno, Oakhurst, Sonora and Mammoth Lakes. You may even be able to get picked up right from your hotel.
- Guided Tour: If you are arriving as part of a tour group, they will already have your permit covered. Here’s a list of tour operators that you might be interested in. Note: Attending select programs offered by a few in-park partners like The Ansel Adams Gallery or the Yosemite Conservancy also eliminates the need to get a day-use vehicle reservation.
- If you want to hike, bike, or ride a horse into the park, you don’t need a separate reservation either.
4. NEW: Plan to enter outside of peak use times – after 4 pm or before 6 am.
Sunset lovers and night photographers rejoice! NPS heard you. This temporary restriction is designed to reduce traffic congestion during peak hours, so if you’re planning to arrive outside of these times, you don’t need to get a day-use reservation.
If you enter the park before 6 am, you can stay and enjoy the park during the day. If that’s too early, simply spend the day enjoying things to do outside Yosemite and drive in after 4 pm. At summer solstice (late June) when the sun sets around 9 pm, that’s 5 whole hours to explore the park even if you don’t get a vehicle reservation.
The regular entrance fee still applies if you enter after peak hours. Also, your off-peak pass will be valid for three days, however, it will only be valid outside of peak hours for those days.