photo of Cathedral Lakes and Cathedral Peak, Yosemite National Park, CA

Cathedral Lakes

Yosemite National Park

Lower Cathedral Lake & Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Lakes Backpacking Trip Resources

Books and Maps

Elizabeth Wenk and Kathy Morey's John Muir Trail is one of the best available about this famous trail. Tom Harrison's John Muir Trail Map-Pack covers the JMT all the way to Mt. Whitney and Whitney Portal.


Transportation to Tuolumne Meadows

The Tioga Pass Road to Tuolumne Meadows is usually cleared of snow by late May and remains open into November. The area can be reached by car or by tour bus from Yosemite Valley or by YARTS from Yosemite Valley, Merced, Sonora, Lee Vining, June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and other places.

Wilderness Permits

A Wilderness Permit is required for each party camping overnight in the Yosemite National Park wilderness. A maximum quota of 15 overnight backpackers are admitted to Cathedral Lakes each day on reserved permits. If any of those 15 slots are not reserved, a permit for those available slots, along with 10 first-come, first-served slots, can be obtained beginning at 11 AM the day before your hike.

You can make your reservation as early as 24 weeks (168 days) in advance. Expect a lot of competition for popular dates from July through early September. The best way is to fax your reservation form to (209) 372-0739 before 7:30 AM on the 168th day before your trip. Faxes are processed by lottery at 7:30 AM. If you choose to phone in your reservation, call (209) 372-0740, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM.

Reservations require a $5 processing fee and a $5 fee per person.
Yosemite National Park Wilderness Permits

Permits may be picked up the day before your hike or the day of your hike (by 10:00 AM) at the Wilderness Center in Yosemite Valley (near the post office), Tuolumne Meadows (1 mile east of the visitor center on the main road), or at the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station. Office hours change, so check Yosemite Current Conditions for the hours.

Wilderness Regulations

Campfires are prohibited at Cathedral Lakes and above 9,600 feet elsewhere in Yosemite National Park.
Bear canisters are required in Yosemite National Park.
No pets are allowed in the Yosemite wilderness.

More about Wilderness Permit Reservations

Wilderness permits are available from 3 days up to 168 days in advance of departure date when the permit office is open (mid-November through October). Faxed permit requests may be sent in 169 days before your departure date. Faxed permit requests are placed in a lottery at 7:30 AM Pacific time on the day faxes are processed (168 days before departure). An email with your lottery results should be sent out within 24 hours of the processing date. Find the first day you may fax in your request by using Yosemite's chart: Wilderness Permits Reservation Windows.

Do not submit more than one application per request or group each day. Such applications will be disqualified.

Yosemite Wilderness Permits - General Information

A wilderness permit is required for each party camping overnight in the Yosemite wilderness. The maximum number of people per party is 15 (8 if hiking cross country), but some trailhead quotas are less than that. There is a daily quota of overnight hikers permitted to enter at each trailhead. No permit is required for day hikers. Sixty percent of the daily quota of hiker slots may be reserved ahead of time, the other 40 percent are kept as first-come, first-served beginning at 11:00 AM the day before your hike.

Reserved permits may be picked up at a wilderness office during business hours the day before your trip. Permits must be picked up by 10:00 AM on the day of your trip. If you will be arriving later than 10:00 AM, call (209) 372-0308.