It’s no secret that Yosemite National Park saw a record number of visitors during the early days of the pandemic. Yosemite continues to be so popular that the National Park Service is testing a pilot lottery program for Yosemite’s coveted North Pines Campground. Whereas in the past, campground reservations often sold out within minutes of going live, the lottery process is based on a fair and randomized distribution system to manage access and ensure equitable participation.
How Does the Lottery Work?
A lottery system provides a fair distribution process and ensures equal access to the recreation opportunity or special events. Many of these opportunities are in such high demand that access is limited due to space restrictions at the event venue or to prevent damage to the natural landscape and to preserve the visitor experience.
A lottery application period is opened at a designated time for each recreation opportunity (Example: river permit, wilderness permit, special event, etc.), and requires applicants to submit an online or call center application during this time frame. Successful and unsuccessful lottery applicants will be notified following the lottery application period. Often, there are additional steps that the successful lottery winners must follow to secure and pay for the reservation.
Each facility announces results at different times. Sometimes it takes a few days to weeks, other times it could be the next day. Please check the individual facility page for more information on when the results will be announced for the lottery you entered.
For each lottery application, there is a reservation fee – whether you are successful or not in securing a reservation through the lottery. If you receive a successful lottery award, there may also be additional fees associated with the permit or activity.
Lottery System for Yosemite Campgrounds
Yosemite is testing out a lottery system for campground reservations at the North Pines Campground between July 21 and September 14. There is a $10 non-refundable fee to enter the lottery and the deadline for applications is February 6, 2022.
Day-use Reservations & Trail Permits
To limit the number of park visitors, Yosemite now requires summer visitors to make reservations in advance. In addition to the new reservation system, wilderness permits are also required to access popular attractions such as the Half Dome and John Muir Trail.
Thanks to funds provided by the Great American Outdoors Act, you can expect to see some positive changes including renovations and repairs to campgrounds, hiking trails, and roads near Yosemite National Park.