Jackpot! Yosemite High Sierra Camp Lottery

By Bill Swift

One of the most popular adventures in Yosemite National Park is to explore the Yosemite high country and be able to stay at the Yosemite High Sierra Camps. These 5 back country camps are spaced 6 to 10 miles apart and provide tent cabins, bunks, blankets, breakfast, box lunch for the day, and dinner. This means you can hike the high country with a much lighter backpack, carrying basically just your clothes, water, and other personal gear. The camps are open roughly late June through early September which makes for a very tight season.

Map of Yosemite High Sierra Camps

Such a great outdoor adventure is as you can expect, is extremely popular, so there is a lottery process to manage the demand. Applications can be submitted in the fall for the following summer. Of course, we applied and were super excited when April rolled around to see if we were lucky enough to get a spot. Well, we didn’t receive any response, so emailed back asking for our status. That night the phone rang. Apparently someone had just cancelled and there was an opening for a five day ranger guided hike in mid August. Of course we took the spot! So here we are in early August and in two weeks we head to Yosemite!

It all starts off with a night at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, which is a tent cabin based lodge at 8600 feet where people get acclimated to the high elevation. Just staying there is a wonderful experience in itself as the location is spectacular, and it is fun to share stories with the other hikers at group breakfast and dinners. Our itinerary is as follow:

  • Day 1 : hike to Sunrise High Sierra Camp (8 miles 1200 foot elevation gain).
  • Day 2 : hike to Merced Lake High Sierra Camp (10 miles 2200 feet down)
  • Day 3: rest up with extra night at Merced Lake High Sierra Camp
  • Day 4: hike to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp (8 miles 3000 foot elevation gain).
  • Day 5: we walk back to Tuolumne Meadows Lodge (7 miles 1500 feet down) and take a shower!

Talk about exciting, very exciting!  Every time I preview that experience in Parks Explore VR - Yosemite National Park, I get even more excited. Although as exciting as it looks, the VR flyovers really show where some parts of the adventure are going to be quite a challenge. I have also been exploring what to do on that “extra day” at Merced Lake. 

We have been training pretty hard this summer to prepare for this upcoming experience. Also readying our pack list as we need to allocate some extra weight for our 360 degree video camera and battery pack to try to capture some of the natural beauty that awaits us on this adventure. Click the pictures below to check out the 360 video and 360 photo from a couple of our recent workout hikes, first to Ellis Peak and second to Granite Chief, both peaks on the western side of Lake Tahoe. 

Check back soon as we plan to make additional posts here about this exciting trip to Yosemite.