The Best Backpacking Trip in Yosemite

Looking for the complete Yosemite backpacking experience? This 74-mile hike south of Tuolumne Meadows hits iconic, must-see features in Yosemite’s backcountry as well as some of its most remote and lonely wilderness. Highlights include two of the best summits in the park, Clouds Rest and beloved Half Dome high above Yosemite Valley, as well as thunderous, 594-foot-tall Nevada Fall and the mind-boggling granite domes and peaks of Tuolumne, Vogelsang, and Tenaya Lake. This hike also crosses remote Red Peak Pass in the Clark Range—which at 11,500 feet is the highest pass reached by a trail in Yosemite—and the rocky terrain and beautiful tarns, lakes, and creeks at the headwaters of the Merced River. 

This e-guide covers everything you need to know, including expert advice on the ideal time of year, how to obtain a popular backcountry permit and deal with bears and elevation, travel logistics, gear, and safety, and it lays out a day-to-day itinerary plus three alternate itineraries. The entire route follows good trails and has just a handful of strenuous sections.

Watch the video below and read my full story about this trip, “Best of Yosemite, Part 1: Backpacking South of Tuolumne Meadows,” (which is premium content, requiring a subscription), for a description, with photos and a video, of the trip described in much more detail in this e-guide; or see the photos in my story “Backpacking 150 Miles Through Wildest Yosemite” (which is free for anyone to read).


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Ready to explore the remotest and most spectacular backcountry in Yosemite? These two hikes of 74 miles and nearly 87 miles wander through the biggest, loneliest, and most remote chunks of wilderness on the Yosemite map, south and north of Tuolumne Meadows.

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With vertiginous cliffs and peaks, numerous waterfalls and cascades, crack-riddled glaciers plastering mountainsides, and raw wilderness where a range of wildlife long gone from most of the continent thrives in shocking abundance, Glacier National Park embodies the highest aspirations of backpackers.

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I felt dubious when a backcountry ranger who’s hiked every mile of trail in the Grand Canyon told me this is the park’s best backpacking trip. After all, there isn’t a mediocre hike in the canyon. Then I backpacked this route and found out he was right.

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