Trip Preparation

Trip Preparation

Planning for Your High Sierra Camp Trip

There’s no better, easier way to explore Yosemite’s higher terrain than staying at—or just dining at—one of our High Sierra Camps. With a little planning, your trip will be more enjoyable, safer, and more comfortable.


The various tours and shuttle buses that are available will make your visit to Yosemite that much easier! 

Travel Tips

Shuttle Services

Wilderness Permits

Make sure you bring your reservation confirmation for your stay at Yosemite High Sierra Camp with you—it serves as your wilderness permit. Meals-Only guests must get wilderness permits from the National Park Service, which can be picked up in Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Permit Office. 

Trailheads & Parking

Yosemite National Park Wilderness Trailheads Map

Glen Aulin
  • Trailhead Map Marker 22
  • Park at Lembert Dome parking lot
NOTE: Lembert Dome is a large parking lot, but it fills up fast due to day use. If full, alternate parking is at Wilderness Center or Dog Lake parking lots.
May Lake
  • Trailhead Map Marker 17
  • Park at May Lake parking lot
NOTE: Lot generally does not completely fill, however, if it does, you can park at the Sunrise parking lot and hike to the May Lake parking lot (Trailhead Map Marker 19) along a trail that is approximately 3 miles -OR- at Trailhead Map Marker 16 parking lot and hike to the may Lake parking lot along a trail that is approximately 2 miles.
  • Trailhead Map Marker 19
  • Park at Sunrise parking lot
NOTE: Sunrise is a small parking lot that fills up fast due to day use. If full, alternate parking is at Murphy Creek parking lot.
  • Trailhead Map Marker 24
  • Park at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge parking lot
NOTE: Medium sized parking lot that fills up very fast due to lodge parking. If full, alternate parking at Wilderness Center or Dog Lake parking lots.

Acclimating to Altitude

Because of the High Camps’ elevation, it’s important to drink plenty of water and give yourself time to acclimate to the altitude—especially if you’re coming from sea-level. We recommend an overnight stay at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge or White Wolf before arriving at the High Camps. Descension is recommended with the onset of altitude sickness symptoms.

Practice Makes Perfect

We encourage you to prepare for your trip by walking several times a day in the hiking boots that you plan to bring on your trip, and also wearing the pack that you'll have with you at Yosemite. The trails at Yosemite can be strenuous and are made more difficult due to low oxygen caused by the high elevation. Going for a walk 4 to 5 times a week in the weeks leading up to your trip is encouraged. The trails are clearly marked, but there are still rocks and steps to navigate and the distance are 6 to 10 miles between camps.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are central gear at Yosemite National Park. We recommend that boots be light, high-quality and broken in long before your trip to Yosemite. We also recommend that guests bring Band-Aids and moleskin pads in the event of blisters.

  • Boots should be light, sturdy, of superior quality, and well broken-in
  • Add a foot pad to your boots for comfort during your hike
  • Spend a month walking in your new boots before your trip
  • Bring a pair of lightweight shoes to wear in camp
  • Do not wear new boots without having them well broken in prior to your trip

Sore Feet & Blisters

You should have plenty of moleskins, extra socks and a pair of running shoes or tennis shoes as a backup.

The most important thing in deciding what to pack is the weight. We suggest that no hiker or backpacker carries more than 25 pounds in their backpack. It’s important that your backpack fit you properly, so when shopping for a new backpack, be sure to visit a reputable outdoor outfitter. Weather at Yosemite National Park is unpredictable, so it’s critical that you dress in layers – wearing a wicking base layer against your skin, a mid-layer made out of a synthetic material or wool, and have a waterproof jacket in your backpack. 

For guided saddle trips, closed toed shoes or boots with a heel are required. We also recommend bringing rain gear to include rain jacket and rain pants. 

Packing Check List (PDF)

Clothing - Be Weather Minded

  • Synthetic materials such as polyester fleece or natural wool blends
  • Clothing Layers (T-Shirts, Tank Tops, Long-Sleeved Shirts, Undergarments)
  • Casual footwear (sandals) while at camp
  • Hiking Boots (broken in) 
  • Hiking Gloves
  • Winter Gloves
  • hat - Ball cap or knit cap
  • Rain Gear - Jacket or Poncho 

  • Warm Jacket 
  • Shorts or Warm Pants
  • T-Shirts for Hiking
  • Swimsuit
  • Woolen Socks
  • Extra Socks
  • Thermal underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Sunglasses

Gear & Equipment 

  • Sleeping bags or sleep sack required 
  • Water bottle and/or bladder (2-liter)
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Towels
  • Backpack
  • Trekking Poles
  • Giardia-rated water filter or water purification tablets
  • Mini First Aid Kit
  • Navigation System (Map or GPS)
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Trekking Poles
  • Binoculars
  • Whistle
  • Guidebook and Map
  • Tarp - for weather
  • Mosquito Head Net
  • Trail Food - (granola bars, energy gel, trail mix)


  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Eye Care
  • Face Wipes
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Lip Balm
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Waste bags
Please Note: Meals Only Guests will need to bring their own tent, tent pads, sleeping bags, and any other recommended items above. It is also required that meals only guests obtain a wilderness permit from the National Park Service.

The quantity of clothing needed is dependent on the length of your hike. Weather can change rapidly so it is recommended to dress in layers. Technical (wicking/polyester/lightweight) materials are encouraged for guest comfort. Cotton can be heavy and difficult to keep dry.

On The Trail

Food & Drinking Water

There's ample drinking water provided at each camp. It's important that you avoid drinking unfiltered water from streams or lakes during your hike, as there are often waterborne microbes that can be unsafe to ingest. Keep in mind that hiking will increase your need for calories, and that it’s important that you pack the appropriate amount of food. 

  • Packing some high-energy snacks might be in order as well as a second water bottle or water bladder.
  • Consuming up to a gallon of water a day or 1 quart of water for every hour of hiking is normal. Bringing 2-liter water bladder is strongly recommended. 
Leave No Trace

We work hard to preserve the pristine environment at the High Camps, and ask guests to stay on the trail, respect wildlife and to leave flowers and rocks where you find them. If you find trash along the way, kindly pick it up and deposit it at the next camp.

Life at The High Sierra Camps

Meal Times & Sack Lunches

  • Breakfast is served at 7:30 am daily; Dinner is served at 6:30 pm.
  • Lunches may be purchased at check-in for an additional fee and picked up at breakfast the following morning.
  • All camps provide clean drinking water for guests to refill their water bottles.
  • All camps have shared bear-proof storage for food items. 
  • Every effort is made to accommodate requests due to dietary restrictions such as food allergies, vegetarian/vegan, or gluten-free diets. Please advise the High Sierra Camp Reservation staff of any dietary restrictions at least two weeks prior to your trip.
  • Please notify us of any food allergies at least two weeks prior to your trip

Showers & Laundry

When the water supply permits, May Lake, Sunrise, and Merced offer complimentary hot showers and laundry wash basins for overnight guests. During the dry season we may limit the length of showers. Please note that showers are for registered camper guests only. 

Electricity & Heating

There's no electricity at the camps, however solar lanterns are provided for light. We also recommend that you bring a head lamp or flashlight. There are also wood-burning stoves to provide heat in the tent cabins at all camps except Merced Lake. Wood is provided by mule trains, and guests are asked to use only what’s necessary.

Water Conservation

Water in the high country is our most precious resource. Human waste at the High Sierra Camps is processed through septic tanks and leachfields — similar to what one might find in a rural, residential setting. If there’s too much water in the systems, it can harm the surrounding environment and animals. Please limit your use of water whenever possible.

Camp Facilities

  • Each camp has a camp store, offering limited inventory of items.
  • Each camp has wash rooms and restrooms facilities.
  • None of the camps have electricity or charging stations.
  • All tents, with the exception of Merced, have wood-burning stoves for warmth.