JMT Permits

There are permits required for the JMT and unfortunately they are in extremely high demand. This means theres more people that want to hike the JMT every season than there are permits for.

Anyone backpacking along the JMT is required to have a wilderness permit. Luckily, you only need one permit to backpack along the JMT. Yosemite has recently implemented a new permitting policy because of the increased traffic seen on the JMT in recent years. The permitting system has gotten more complicated and can be fairly confusing. We’ll try to simplify it for you. Here’s all the info you need to know: 

Permits for Starting in Yosemite

If you are starting your JMT hike in Yosemite, as most hikers are, you MUST apply and obtain a permit directly from the Yosemite National Park permit issuing station. If you obtain a wilderness permit from Yosemite for the entire trip you only need one permit. You do NOT need any additional permit for Whitney, what used to be referred to as a “Whitney Stamp”.

The permitting system has changed very recently. The most current policy was implemented in February of 2015. Be very careful when researching JMT permits online. Many of the resources online still have information regarding previous permitting policies that is out of date.

Understand this: 97% of all JMT thru-hiking permits are denied.

Here's the New Policy

45 total hikers can start the JMT per day across all trailheads.

You can start the JMT from one of 4 trailheads: Lyell Canyon, Sunrise Lakes, Glacier Point or Happy Isles.

Yosemite accepts permit applications exactly 24 weeks in advance of the day you want to start hiking.

Reservations are not required for trips during November through April. A trip during this time period is not recommended.

Permits per Trailhead

Lyell Canyon Trailhead
25 Available per day
(60% reservable, 40% first-come first-served)

Happy Isles, Glacier Point, Sunrise Lakes
20 total permits available per day
(100% reservable, none available for first-come first-served)

Step-by-Step Permit Guide

As stated above, there’s four trailheads for the JMT. Here’s a blurb about each one:

Happy Isles: The Happy Isles trailhead is the official northern terminus of the JMT and is located in Yosemite Valley. When specifying on your permit where you will be camping your first night it will likely be Little Yosemite Valley or Sunrise Creek. 

Sunrise Lakes: This trailhead is located on the southern end of Tenaya Lake which is just southwest of Tuolumne Meadows. 

Glacier Point: Used to be more popular of a JMT trailhead before the new permitting system because it was easier to get a permit for this trailhead. 

Lyell Canyon: Located at the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station. This is the only permit location where firs-come first-served permits are available. It is generally perceived as less desirable of a trailhead so it’s generally easier to get a permit here.  

Our favorite? Gotta go with the classic. Start at Happy Isles 🙂 

First you need to figure out when your start date is. You will need to apply for your permit EXACTLY 128 days before you set out on your hike. Otherwise you will not get a permit reservation.

Even if you apply exactly 128 days beforehand there’s still a fair chance you will not receive a permit.

On your JMT permit application you’ll have to fill in an “Exit trailhead” and “Exit Date”

Are you planning on hiking the entire JMT? If so, your exit location will likely be Whitney Portal.

Your final exit date is negotiable. We recommend putting a date on your permit that is slightly beyond your expected exit date. You don’t want to be on the trail beyond your specified exit date.

You will often hear permits being referred to as reservations. Technically you’re applying for a permit reservation. If you your application gets accepted you are given a reservation for a permit which you can redeem for an actual permit at one of the issuing stations in Yosemite. 

There are three ways to make a JMT permit reservation. 

1. Fax

You really just should fax your permit.  This is the method that is recommended by the National Parks Service and it’s generally accepted by JMT hikers that this is the best method. Use the calendar in the above “Pick Your Start Date” section to find the date you should fax your permit request.

You will revive an email within 24 hours of faxing your application that will inform you if you got a permit or not. Make sure you provide a legible email address on the application form.

2. Phone

If you do not have access to a fax machine you can apply by phone. But, if you do not have access to a fax machine, get access to a fax machine. Seriously, it’s worth it.

If you’re going to apply by phone, go to this website and make sure you have all the required information ready.

You can reach the National Parks Service at (209) 372-0740 See the above website for hours.

3. Mail

Again, you really should just fax your reservation…..

You can complete this reservation form and mail it to the following address:

Wilderness Permits
PO Box 545
Yosemite, CA 95389

Go to this website for more information


Assuming you followed the advice in Step 4, you’re now ready to fax your form!

Links to Other JMT Pages

We’ve put together a lot of information about the JMT. On this page you’ll find a general overview out the trail. Here’s some links to our other pages that have other specific Information about the trail. 

Are you planning a JMT trip?

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