Staying in Yosemite Valley can come as a shock to people who are used to wilderness camping and if you break the rules, by mistake or on purpose you’ll be on thin ice. Here’s a few facts and tips to help you stay on the right side of the rangers.
There are very strict rules about food storage in the park. Everything must be in a bear box or a bin unless you’re in the process of eating it or using it. This includes tooth paste, sweet wrappers, sun cream, if it has an odour then it must be stowed away. This rule is one of the most important in the park and is there for good reason. Bears are naturally inquisitive and always hungry, they also have claws that seem to work like can openers on nice shiny hire cars. Once a bear gets used to foraging in the camps and at the base of climbs they become dangerous and often have to be shot, so don’t ever break this rule. If you’re caught, the first time you’ll receive a polite request to be more careful, the next time you could be fined up to $5000 and banned from the valley!
Staying in the Valley
The maximum stay in the valley is seven days during a year. This is a total stay of seven days no matter whether you move from one camp to another. The rangers are pretty hot on this and if you’re caught breaking this rule you’ll be moved on (day or night) and if you get caught a few times you could end up on a black list that means you won’t be able to stay in the valley again, ever!
The exception to this is when you’re up on the wall or, arguably off the ground at all, and then there is no limit, so one way around this is to get intimately acquainted with your portaledge. People do bivi and for some routes it’s pretty standard practice, but the rangers won’t care what the reason and they use night vision goggles to enforce this one. Again you can be fined or banned from the valley.
Whether you’re planning on trying to dirtbag and stay longer than you should (plenty do) or are just there to enjoy yourself know what the rules are and try not to break them. The rangers aren’t like the National Park Rangers we have in the UK, they’re basically park police and if you stay off their radar you’ll have a much nicer trip.
About the Author
Alex Palmer is the co-owner and founder of Cold Mountain Kit and started climbing back in 1989. He's climbed extensively throughout the UK, French Alps and has been as far afield as Yosemite, Northern Patagonia and South Africa. A total trad climbing snob.