Trailheads at some national parks like Yosemite or some wilderness areas will have quotas, with a certain number of permits per trailhead available per day.

Usually, the permits are split between those that can be reserved in advance and those that are available at the ranger stations for people to walk in and get the day they leave.

How are the numbers of backpacking permits available per trailhead determined?

  • I'm only aware of three day-hiking trails where day use permits are subject to quota, and only one of those is in a national park. I think this is mostly an issue for overnight use?
    – gerrit
    Aug 15, 2018 at 15:05
  • @gerrit I forgot the backpacking tag, yes this is overnight Aug 15, 2018 at 15:09
  • From Rangers I know, it is based on how crowded it feels with different numbers of people in the backcountry.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 15, 2018 at 16:20


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