High Sierra Camp Trip Preparation

The setting of each camp is uniquely spectacular and provides ample opportunities for exploration or quiet appreciation of the area's natural beauty. The following information on Yosemite's High Sierra Camps can help you prepare for your trip into Yosemite's backcountry.

• Tips to Help You Get Ready
• Trailhead Logistics
• On The Trail
• At The High Sierra Camps

Tips to Help You Get Ready

Important to Precondition
To make the most of this special opportunity we suggest that, for the month preceding your trip, you precondition yourself by walking or hiking with the pack and shoes that you plan to use.  Trails between each of the High Sierra Camps provide strenuous hiking. 

Hiking Boots
Hiking boots are the most important part of your equipment
• Boots should be light, sturdy, of superior quality, and well broken-in
• Add a footpad to your boots for comfort during hiking
• Spend a month walking in your new boots before your trip
• Bring a pair of light shoes to wear in camp
• Do not wear new boots without having them well broken in prior to your trip.

Sore Feet & Blisters
During your conditioning exercises, wear the boots you plan to use during your trip to the High Sierra Camps, and carry your pack with weight in it.  You should have plenty of moleskins, extra socks and a pair of running shoes or tennis shoes as a backup.

Saddle Trips
Guests are limited to 225 pounds per person, including your body weight and weight of items carried in your saddlebag (10 pound limit).  On a separate pack animal, you may have additional gear (15 pound limit).  Pack gear in plastic bags for placement in saddlebags.  You must wear long trousers while riding.  Shoes or boots with a heel are recommended for riding.  Helmets are provided and all riders are required to wear them.  The Stable will contact you approximately 2 weeks before your High Sierra Camp trip for weight and riding experience of all members of your party.

Packing Suggestions & Essentials
When considering what to pack, weight is important (pack weight depends on a person’s ability but should weigh no more than approximately 25 pounds).  Select your clothing and equipment with lightness, quality and versatility in mind.  Weather in the High Sierra is unpredictable, so be prepared.  Temperatures can range from the low 30’s at night to the high 80’s during the day.  You may encounter rainsqualls, snow flurries, bright sunshine (people sunburn easily at higher elevations) and mosquitoes, so pack accordingly.

Each person should carry: 

  • Sleep sack
  • (optional) Light weight sleeping bag - for those that tend to sleep a little cold, especially for late August and September visits
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and other toiletries as appropriate
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle or hydration system
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Chapstick
  • Mini first-aid kit with moleskin for blisters.
  • Packable Towel
  • Each group should also have some kind of navigation system, either a map and compass or GPS unit, and know how to use them.
  • Meals Only Guests should bring appropriate camping equipment including tent, ground cloth/pad and sleeping bag along with other suggested items.

Clothing should include versatile layers, avoiding cotton (which is heavy and difficult to keep dry). Suggestions include:

  • Hat with a brim or a visor
  • Stocking cap for chilly nights
  • Bandanna, kerchief or scarf
  • Thermal underwear for sleep wear
  • Two pairs of woolen socks, sock liners
  • Lightweight hiking shirt
  • Hiking shorts
  • Long pants
  • Swimsuit
  • Warm shirt – flannel, fleece or wool
  • Medium-weight sweater or fleece
  • Hiking gloves or mittens
  • Light down or pile jacket
  • Waterproof poncho or rain jacket with hood and pants.

Optional Items:

  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Fishing pole and lures (California fishing license required)
  • Giardia-rated water filter or water purification tablets, if you plan on using mountain streams for a water source

Packing Your Pack
Large packs are more comfortable than small packs but do not fill them to the top.  Pack for comfort, not for style. The High Sierra Camps' dirty trails make all clothes look the same. However, having clean, dry socks can make all the difference, so pack several pairs. Packing some high-energy munchies might be in order as well as a second water bottle. Consuming up to a gallon of water a day is normal.

High Sierra Camp Packing Services
Wish you could bring a few more things with you for your High Sierra Camp stay, but don’t want to carry it?  For only $5/lb. we carry it for you on one of our regular supply trains into the camp.  This rate is only available for single camp destinations.  If you would like a personally arranged team to carry items from one High Sierra Camp to the next camp, the Custom Pack and Saddle rates will apply.

Supply Train Schedule:

 Destination  Days of Departure for Destination
 Glen Aulin   Tuesdays and Saturdays supplied by Tuolumne Meadows Stables
 May Lake  Mondays and Thursdays supplied by Tuolumne Meadow Stables
 Sunrise   Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays supplied by Tuolumne Meadows Stables
 Vogelsang   Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays supplied by Tuolumne Meadows Stables
 Merced Lake  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays supplied by Yosemite Valley Stables

To arrange for a High Sierra Camp packing service, contact the Yosemite Valley Stable (June through September) at (209) 372-8348. If you have general questions in the off-season, you can also call the High Sierra Desk at (559) 253-5672. 

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Trailhead Logistics

Altitude
The High Camps range from 6,500 ft. to 10,100 ft. in elevation.  The best preparation for hiking at high elevations is to stay hydrated and give yourself time to acclimatize in advance.  To help prevent altitude sickness, acclimatize yourself to the altitude by staying at either Tuolumne Meadows Lodge or White Wolf a day or more in advance of your trip.  Be sure to increase your water intake beginning 7 days prior to your trip.


Dinner Reservations

If you are lodging at Tuolumne Meadows or White Wolf Lodge, dinner reservations are required and can be made when you arrive.

Wilderness Permits
Your Yosemite High Sierra Camp reservation confirmation is your wilderness permit.  Please bring it with you.  Meals-only guests must pick up a wilderness permit from the National Park Service before departing.  You must show your dinner confirmation to obtain this permit.  Wilderness Permits can be picked up either in Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Permit Office.  For more informaton regarding wilderness permits, visit the NPS website.

Transportation & Trailhead Access
The various tours and shuttle buses in Yosemite give easy access to trailheads and help logistically with one-way and loop trips in the high country.  Seasonal.

Tuolumne Meadows Hikers Bus - Yosemite Transportation Service runs a bus once a day when camps are open from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows.  It leaves Yosemite Lodge in the morning at 8 a.m. and returns later than afternoon (departure time subject to change).  Call for specific arrival and departure times. Reservations are needed one day in advance. Reservations can be made in person at any Yosemite Valley Tour Desk or by calling (209) 372-1240.  You must pick up your tickets from any Yosemite Valley Tour & Activity Desk before boarding the 8 a.m. Hikers bus.
Tuolumne Meadows Free Shuttle – This free shuttle runs daily between Tuolumne Meadows and Olmstead Point.  Multiple times each day the shuttle also goes to Tioga Pass from Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. High Sierra Camp trailheads serviced by this shuttle include Vogelsang at the Dog Lake parking lot, Glen Aulin at the Lembert Dome picnic area, the Cathedral Lakes trail, and May Lake & Sunrise from the west end of Tenaya Lake.  This shuttle service does not go to the May Lake trailhead on the old Tioga Road.
YARTS – A bus departs from Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite Valley and returns each evening with multiple stops along the way. Check for bus schedules on their website.

Check-in Procedures for Guided Trips
If you are on a Ranger Guided Hike or a Saddle Trip, check in at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge front desk in person the evening before your trip departs. On the night before departure, the Ranger Naturalist will present a talk at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and will also confirm the start time for your hike the next morning. You are encouraged to attend this worthwhile introduction to the trip.  Saddle trips meet at the Tuolumne Meadows Stable at 9:00 a.m. and depart at 9:30 a.m.

Bear Boxes
Yosemite’s bears are curious and adept at taking apart car doors if they find something interesting.  The National Park Service defines “food” to a bear as “any item with a scent, regardless of packaging. This may include items that you do not consider food, such as canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, trash, ice chests (even when empty), and unwashed items used for preparing or eating meals. All these items must be stored properly”.  Secure storage boxes are provided at every major trailhead to the High Sierra Camps.  These bear boxes are shared and personal locks are not allowed.   Before heading into the high country, take all scented items out of your car and visually inspect the interior for common items that may look like food to a bear – water bottles, grocery bags, and boxy items that could be mistaken for an ice chest.

Food storage lockers are available at all High Camps for your use.  Freezer and refrigerator space is not available for guest use. Find out more information on which items need to be stored in a food storage locker.

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On The Trail

Food & Drinking Water
Purified water is available at each camp.  DO NOT drink unfiltered water from streams or lakes along the trail.  While on your hike your body will require more calories and water than you normally use.  It is common for hikers to not feel hungry or thirsty while doing strenuous exercise.  It is important to eat during the day and drink plenty of water – up to a gallon a day is normal.  A second water bottle or hydration system is a good idea. 

Practice “Leave No Trace” Principles
The High Camps are popular destinations which increase traffic in sensitive alpine environments.  Help us be stewards in these special places by practicing good wilderness ethics.  This includes staying on maintained trails, respecting wildlife, leaving rocks and flowers as you find them, disposing of waste properly, and packing your litter/garbage on to the next camp. The Yosemite Mountaineering School offers more informaton online about Leave No Trace Principles.

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At The High Sierra Camps

Meal Times & Sack Lunches
Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and breakfast is at 7:30 a.m.  All meals are set menus, served family-style.  At an additional cost, sack lunches can be ordered after dinner at camp. Every effort is made to accommodate requests due to dietary restrictions such as food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets. Please advise the High Sierra Camp Reservation staff of any dietary restrictions in advance of your trip. 


Showers & Laundry
Showers are based on water supply and may not be available at every camp.  Length of showers may also be limited.  Showers are for registered camp guests only.  May Lake and Merced Lake have washtubs for limited, light laundry.  Personal laundry is not permitted in camp washbasins.

Electricy & Heating
Electricity is not available at the camps.  Candles are provided for light.  Wood-burning stoves are provided to heat tent cabins at all camps except Merced Lake.  Wood supply is limited since wood is transported into the camps by mule.  Camp guests are cautioned to be fire conscious when using wood-burning stoves.

Bears & Other Wildlife
Each High Sierra Camp will provide instructions on where to store any food items and dispose of garbage.  Bears, squirrels, chipmunks and mice can easily break into tent cabins to steal improperly stored food.  Please help us minimize any impact on the wildlife in these wilderness areas by always being mindful of your food and garbage.

High Sierra Camp Stores (Limited Supplies)
The following items may be purchased at Yosemite’s High Sierra Camp stores (depending on availability):

Kleenex (pocket size) Tampax  Bandanas
Vaseline  Chapstick / Blistex Gum
Lifesavers  Candy  Raisins
Peanuts  Film  Toothbrush/paste
Postage stamps Postcards  Aspirin/Tylenol
Fishing lures  Alka Seltzer  Water bottles
Quadrangle maps  Trash bags Dental floss
Ponchos  Ace bandages Mosquito repellant
Safety razors  Foot powder Sunscreen SPF 15-36
Spenco 2nd skin    Pepto Bismol Pens
Band-Aids/Moleskin Flashlight supplies Water purification tablets

Water Conservation
Water conservation is vital in the High Country.  Sewage at High Sierra Camps is processed through septic tanks and leach fields.  Too much water in these systems can harm the surrounding alpine environments.  Please do your part by reducing water usage as much as possible.

Additional Concerns & Questions
If you have additional concerns or questions not covered here, please call the HSC Reservations office at (559) 253-5672.

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