Outbound Collective logo

Emily Noyd

Wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park. Raised by Washington mountains and Puget Sound islands. I live for sunrise, backcountry cooking, climbing, roadtrips, and coffee.

I'm a fan of Glen Aulin because it has abundant water year-round. The backpacker's camp makes backpacking much easier for beginners (potable water, composting toilet, bear lockers, etc.). If you have a bear canister and want to continue past Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, camping near California Falls or Waterwheel Falls along the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is beautiful.

This was one of my very first backpacking trips, my first ever in Utah, and it remains a favorite! Very fond memories of camping among the red cliffs and hiking out to see Kolob Arch. Don't forget the desert can be unpredictable and cold in spring and fall, even with warm temperatures during the day!

Camping here in the winter is a well-kept secret! Normally it falls within Yosemite's no camping zone (within 4 miles of a developed area), but in the winter, Glacier Point Road closes and the area converts back to wilderness. As mentioned, there's trails leading to Glacier Point from the Valley that might be closed in the off-season. If so, you can hike or snowshoe longer mileage from the Glacier Point Road area. Can't wait to get back out here! Literally breathtaking views of the night sky.

I spent a gorgeous autumn night at Boothe Lake and had it all to myself! The permit is for the "Rafferty Creek" trailhead, which allows you to stay at Boothe Lake, the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp backpacker's area, or further south at Vogelsang Lake and beyond. Spring would mean snow at 10,000 ft and fall will be quite cold! Summer is the ideal time to visit, gorgeous blooming wildflowers and abundant water.

Very thorough description of this popular route backpacking from Tuolumne to the Valley. This 6-day trip is pretty mellow, it can also be accomplished in fewer days (as the author said). Cathedral Lake trailhead or Sunrise trailhead are both options to do the same route via Cloud's Rest. Note, these trailheads are two of the most popular in Yosemite. Attempting reservations 6 months ahead is highly recommended. First-come, first-serve walk up permits can be obtained at the Tuolumne Wilderness Center the day prior to your trip at 11 am. I highly recommend this route as a 3-day trip for first time visitors to the park!

Beautiful and crowded trail. I would describe the hike to the top of Nevada as at least moderate... It's 5.4 miles roundtrip with 2,000 ft of elevation gain. For less experienced hikers, heading to the footbridge (1.6 miles with 400 ft of gain) is an easy way to see Vernal Falls. This is the most popular day hike in Yosemite.

I love the sunrises and sunsets in the Eastern Sierras. Dispersed camping near Mono Lake is really cool... The sound of coyotes at night and the proximity to exploration in Mammoth and Bishop. I highly recommend the Whoa Nellie Deli in the Mobil gas station at the junction of 120 and 395. Yummy gourmet food!

Beautiful photos and accurate description of this trip! Backpacking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness is a special experience. Waugh Lake is one of many fantastic destinations out there! If you plan to get there from the JMT North (over Donohue Pass from the west), you'll need a permit from Yosemite National Park.

When hiking from Glacier Point Road, LMPL is a reasonable distance to camp for strong hikers. I also recommend nearby Lower Ottoway Lake, about 3 miles from LMPL. After August, the creeks running between Merced Pass Lakes will be dry and the lake level will be low.

I like Hodgdon Campground because it's centrally located and way less busy than the Valley. It's only a 45 minute drive to the valley and about an hour to Tuolumne.

Don't forget your day-use permit (from recreation.gov lottery) and your photo ID. Don't forget your patience... Many people of varying skill levels attempt this hike and it can be crowded/slow. The cables are a little nerve-wracking and the granite is slippery, but generally very safe and a cool experience. If you bring gloves, pack them out! Please don't leave them in a pile at the base of the cables. They are garbage and become infested with rodents, and then the rangers pack out pounds of gross gloves. Similarly, if you want gloves for the cables, bring your own and don't rely on a pile of gloves being available for use. Again, they're garbage and not provided for hikers. Thanks so much!

This route is the most popular backpacking trip in the park, and therefore the permits are hardest to get. Sometimes Half Dome permits are confusing, so here's some clarification: If you're backpacking for one or more nights, you can add the Half Dome permit to your wilderness permit rather than doing the lottery via recreation.gov. You may apply for a wilderness permit reservation 24 weeks (168 days) prior to your trip through fax or phone. First-come, first-serve walk up permits are given out 1 day before your trip starting at 11 am. This means if you want a walk up permit for Friday night, you need to get in line at the Valley Wilderness Center early in the morning on Thursday for the 11 am release. If you'd like a Half Dome permit included in your backpacking trip, be sure to specify when making a reservation, or a first-come, first-serve wilderness permit request. If Half Dome permits are available and Half Dome is reasonably part of your itinerary, you will receive a permit that includes them.

I love Grant Lake because of the opportunities for solitude. Nearby Ten Lakes are a little busier, but Grant Lake doesn't see as many visitors. Great fishing here too! Turn right at Ten Lakes Pass, follow the meadow for 1 mile before descending to the lake. Please note, even when the meadow is muddy and soggy, stick to the main trail to avoid trail braiding!

Ten Lakes is one of my favorite short backpacking trips in Yosemite. Easily attainable High Sierra views and lakes for swimming after a hike up the pass. Campfires are allowed since the area is below 9600' elevation. Awesome spot to score a walk-up wilderness permit when Tuolumne fills up.

Weekends at Tenaya Lake can be very crowded, but it's my personal favorite spot to swim after climbing in Tuolumne. Weekdays provide a little more solitude on the beaches. Awesome way to spend the day with kiddos!

This is my #1 recommended day hike for visitors who are denied Half Dome cable permits. It's a similar difficulty level, perhaps even easier because there's less elevation gain. It's a spectacular view, made even better with a view of Half Dome's backside! Watch out for the persistent chipmunks at the top. Early morning or later evening makes this hike way less crowded. Typically the trail will have snow until May, so be prepared with spikes or poles if traveling in spring.

Paved, which means accessible for many types of visitors, plus dogs are allowed! Early to late spring is the best season, with crowds peaking in June-August. Falls are typically dry by late summer.

I send visitors to May Lake who A) have never backpacked before, and/or B) who want to spend time exploring Yosemite elsewhere and experience a quick backcountry trip. It's a short 1.5 mile hike with about 500 ft of elevation gain. Camping in the backpacker's camp during the summer season is very straightforward: pit toilets, running water, bear lockers, and fire rings. No swimming is allowed in the lake, but you can scramble up to Mt Hoffman if part of your group is feeling energetic, while others lounge with a good book.

Snow Creek is one of the only places you can camp in the backcountry with a perfect view of Half Dome from the tent. Well worth the switchbacks from Mirror Lake! An alternative route (all downhill) is to start on Tioga Rd and descend to the Snow Creek footbridge, then finish the trip via Mirror Lake in the Valley. Hitchhiking or the YARTS bus will bring you back to the car. Take note: a notoriously troublesome bear hangs out at Snow Creek. The area is currently closed to camping (July/August 2016) because she knows how to break open bear canisters and is teaching her cub unfortunately. Always check with the Wilderness stations about current trail conditions, including bear reports.

I highly recommend this backpacking trip for beginners. There is very little elevation gain, abundant water through the summer in Lehamite creek, and fires are typically allowed even when restrictions start below 6000'. The views of Half Dome are rad!

Don't forget your Wilderness permits if you're backpacking! Sunrise trailhead is notorious for out-of-bounds camping and hefty fines. A fantastic backpacking trip from Tioga to the Valley, then take the YARTS bus back to your car. Cloud's Rest is also a manageable day hike as a Half Dome alternative.

One of my favorite short day hikes near Marblemount. Views of the Puget Sound and surrounding peaks are well worth the switchbacks! Good workout and would be fantastic for a run before sunrise.

A fantastic day hike or steep one night backpacking trip. Only a short drive from the Marblemount Wilderness Center (grab a permit), and frequently available when other popular camps are full. Love this hike, can't wait to try Trapper's Peak in winter!

This is one of the best moderate hikes in the North Cascades for panoramic views of peaks and glaciers. It was one of my personal favorites as a Wilderness ranger up there. As Christin said, be sure to get a wilderness permit in Marblemount if you want to camp anywhere below the lookout towards the lake. There's also dispersed camping spots on the Forest Service side if the permits are completely booked. The lookout is frequently full in the summer, but if you have winter backcountry skills, consider coming here off-season. I love the history of fire lookouts in the North Cascades, and this is definitely one to cross off your list!