Stop What You’re Doing: Tomorrow’s the Deadline for Two Exceptional California Adventures
Don’t you want to have fun this summer — and bunk in Yosemite for less than $40 a night?
Tomorrow’s the day.
March 15 is the day to book in two very fun, very California, very best-summer-ever things:
1: Hike Mount Whitney, the highest peak in both California in particular and the Lower 48 in general
2: Reserve a campsite in Yosemite for the height of the summer season
Of these two, Yosemite should be your first priority.
Reservations for the park’s ridiculously in-demand campsites opens today at 7 a.m. Note — this doesn’t include schmancy spots like the Ahwahnee Hotel, which boasts a seriously mediocre 4.0-star on TripAdvisor while selling its top suites north of $1200 per night during high season. (Sample review: “A CA landmark in disrepair!”) Rooms remain available at the Ahwahnee and other Yosemite park hotels — to say nothing of the many lodges outside the park boundaries — even for peak of summer dates.
However, if you’d like to pay less than $500 per night to stay within the park boundaries, camping is obviously your best bet. And that means quick action, right now. Yosemite parcels out camping reservations four months out — which means that tomorrow morning, reservations open for July 15 through August 14. All reservations are via recreation.gov — if you’re going to try for a slot, head over asap to create an account that’s all ready to go when the digital doors open at 7 a.m. tomorrow, March 15.
Having a camping reservation will get you around the supposedly/hopefully “temporary” 2022 requirement for a reservation simply to drive into the park during peak times (late May through September, 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.) Seventy percent of these day passes will go on sale on March 23 (another day to put on your cal), with the rest available seven days out through the summer season.
Of course, that’s not all that’s going on tomorrow.
It’s also the last chance to enter the lottery to climb Mount Whitney. If you haven’t hiked it already, it’s a California classic, and no easy trip: Most hikers start at the Whitney Portal (elev: 8300 feet), then go up another 6200 feet before reaching the summit in Sequoia National Park.
The first step to reaching the summit is getting a permit, and the odds are distinctly not in your favor: In 2021, 25,000 applications were submitted (representing 108,000 would-be hikers), with 28 percent of group leaders receiving a permit. To apply, you’ll need to state your preferred dates of entry and group size; two-thirds of applicants request multi-night permits, rather than day passes (which necessitate a relatively speedy ascent of 12 to 14 hours). The most popular weekend requested was the first weekend in August, by which point the trail should be free of snow.
Tough odds, but worth a shot, we think, for a singular California adventure. Reservation.gov is also handling the lottery apps, so head over there to place your bet. Just know that at 11:59 PT tomorrow, that reservation portal is going to turn into a pumpkin — and you’ll be out of luck until next year*.
* Barring last-minute cancellations, etc etc, that are theoretically possible but a stressful way to live a life.
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