John Muir Trail Permits

Applying for a John Muir Trail Permit May Have Gotten Easier

The Yosemite National Park Service has (kind of) modernized the John Muir Trail reservation system.

A John Muir Trail permit.
The author’s 2012 permit to hike the John Muir Trail.

Getting your hands on a permit to hike the John Muir Trail has been a historically challenging ordeal, and it’s only been made harder in recent years with the adoption of the Donahue Pass exit quota of only 40 hikers each day.

But over at the great blog, author Ray Rippel has posted that the Yosemite National Park Service is making some changes to its oft-frustrating reservation system.

John Muir Trail Permit Revision

These revisions, which are scheduled to begin for the upcoming season, include:

  • A 21-day rolling window. If you don’t get a permit for your chosen day, your request rolls over to the following day. If the odds continue to be against you, this rollover continues for 21 days.
  • A 3-day window for submission. Instead of counting back exactly 168 days before your desired start date, you can now request a permit from between 168 and 170 days prior to your adventure.
  • Daily emailed updates. The National Park Service has, at long last, dipped its toe into the 21st century. After applying, you’ll get an email each day until you either get a permit or you’ve missed out for 21 days. This is a huge help.
  • Unfortunately, you still have to fax your completed reservation in. There’s a new request form, which fully explains the new system.

The Bad News

As Rippel points out, while it’s certainly easier to apply for a JMT permit, the new process may make it more difficult to obtain one. He suspects (and I agree) that there will be less attrition from applicants who would have otherwise given up under the previous system.

For a deeper analysis, head on over to Rippel’s site at Be sure to read the comments for extra insights.

And while you’re over there, check out Rippel’s book Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail, a great resource to help you plan your JMT adventure.

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