It’s hallowed ground among climbers in Yosemite National Park and, as of this summer, no longer a first-come, first served campground.

This week, Yosemite announced a new pilot lottery for Camp 4, the historic walk-in campground where giants like Yvon Chouinard and Royal Robbins once pioneered big-wall climbing and where climbers still swap tales and hone their moves on the renowned Columbia Boulder.

“This iconic campground, situated in the middle of Yosemite Valley, was once home to many of America’s early rock climbing pioneers. It is so historic that it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places! It is the absolute best campground to stay in if you’re climbing in the valley.” — The Dyrt camper Leslie R.

The New Pilot Permit System at Camp 4 Campground

a woman stands on a ledge in Yosemite National Park

Image from The Dyrt camper Leah W.

With campers now waiting in long lines for sites, sometimes overnight, the system at Camp 4 has become inefficient. It’s also contributing to “wildlife issues due to improper food storage, out of bounds camping, and conflicts between campers,” according to the park.

As a result, from late May to early September, the park will use a daily lottery system to allocate the walk-in sites in Camp 4. Visitors will enter the lottery the day before they intend to arrive through Recreation.gov; it will open daily at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time and close at 4 p.m. Campers will be notified by email whether they have landed a site or not.

The new lottery program will include a non-refundable fee of $10 per application. Those who are successful in their application will pay a camping fee of $6 per person per night. The first day of the lottery will be May 21. From May 1 to September 15, the camping limit in Camp 4 is seven nights.

Yosemite will run the pilot through early September, then evaluate its effectiveness for future seasons. Camp 4 will return to its first come, first served status after the busy summer season winds down.

Camp 4, which is on the National Register of Historic Places because of its role in the development of contemporary climbing, is home to 36 sites. If you can’t nab a spot at Camp 4 (or don’t want to take the risk) considering reserving a site at Upper Pines Campground or North Pines Campground, both of which are located in Yosemite Valley.

Jon Bell

Jon Bell

Jon Bell is a journalist, writer and outdoors fan who grew up in Ohio but who’s lived in Oregon since 1997. He is the author of the book, “On Mount Hood,” and he spends as much time outside with his wife and two kids as possible. Find him at www.jbellink.com.