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This clever hack bypasses Yosemite’s complicated new reservation system

How to get into Yosemite without a reservation

a view between a valley in Yosemite national park during February
Aniket Deole / Unsplash

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz around the fact that Yosemite National Park has implemented a new reservation system for visitors from April 13 through August 15, which began at the start of 2024.

The national park’s reservation requirements are implemented to reduce traffic bottlenecks and improve visitors’ experiences.

But many people are left wishing there was an easier way to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite without wondering whether or not they will be able to secure an entry, especially with the warmer months just around the corner.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can get around this requirement with a clever hack that can make your visit to Yosemite smooth and stress-free.

This trick involves booking a hotel near the park so that you have streamlined access to everything that Yosemite has to offer. Two notable hotels near the park are the Evergreen Lodge and Rush Creek Lodge, which are only minutes from the park entrance.

But how can a hotel outside the park boundaries help those looking for an easy entrance into Yosemite?

The answer lies in the guided tours that both Yosemite hotels offer. The park’s new reservation requirements don’t apply to visitors arriving with a group since the institution has a pre-determined number of entrances available for guests who have scheduled guided tours.

This is where this clever hack comes into play. By scheduling a guided tour with either the Evergreen Lodge or Rush Creek Lodge, visitors will benefit from a hassle-free workaround. The new park reservation requirements do not apply to visitors who have scheduled guided tours and booked an overnight stay at one of these properties.

This lesser-known loophole provides a convenient solution for those looking to explore the wonders of Yosemite without the reservation headache. But what will you be doing on these tours, and is the experience as magical as exploring the grand park freely?

Surprisingly, many people prefer the convenience of a tour, which allows visitors to get a deeper cut of the park while making it home to their comfortable accommodations for a restful night.

Here’s what you can expect if you stay at one of these two locations, which allow entry-free access to Yosemite National Park.

wooden chairs set out on the Rush Creek property in Yosemite
Lisa Suender / Flickr

Rush Creek Lodge’s Yosemite National Park tours

Rush Creek Lodge helps enrich a visitor’s trip to Yosemite by offering a variety of activities to guests, ranging from traditional Peyote beading classes to full-day tours within the boundaries of the popular park.

You can choose from various excursion options, depending on the amount of time you have and your physical activity level. First-time visitors can enjoy the Wonders of the Yosemite Hike & Tour.

Or opt for the May Lake & Mount Hoffmann Naturalist Hike, which gets seasoned visitors off the tourist path with a visit to one of Yosemite’s most spectacular alpine lakes. Instead of running into variables like camping in the rain or getting lost along the way, the staff guides you with ease to these park gems.

Since tours vary from a half-day of exploring to seeing all of the park’s highlights during the full-day Yosemite tour, you can choose how long you want to be in the park without worrying about the pesky new Yosemite reservation system.

Luke Pamer / Unsplash

Evergreen Lodge’s Yosemite National Park tours

Established in 1921, Evergreen Lodge has been a go-to choice for Yosemite access for over 100 years. And now, it can be a handy tool for breezing into the park without extensive planning.

From off-roading in a Jeep, to flying over Yosemite’s natural wonders, to enjoying a fishing trip, to snowshoeing, Evergreen Lodge offers one-of-a-kind guided tours in the area. It’s great for visitors who are hiking with kids and want to curate activities appropriate for all age groups.

Friendly guides make the experience feel laid back and flexible, but these expert tour guides have packed the itinerary with insider tips, must-see spots, and remarkable experiences that will make any Yosemite trip unforgettable.

Hacking Yosemite’s complicated new reservation system

Remember that Yosemite’s new reservation system goes into effect on February 10th, 2024, with increased summer restrictions beginning on July 1st. So plan accordingly and ensure you’re booking your park ticket well in advance if you plan a visit to this park later in the year.

These lodges make it super simple to access the park whether or not general admission is available, adding plenty of fun activities and amenities for outdoor enthusiasts.

When visiting Yosemite, you don’t want to be stressed about reservations and park entry. Instead, you want to soak up every moment of breathtaking beauty this national treasure offers.

Rachel Dennis
Artist & writer with a flair for the outdoors, sustainability & travel. Off-duty chef, bookworm, and conversation lover.
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