The lottery aims to reduce the pain points of the first-come, first-served system previously in place

Mirror Lake, one of the best hikes in Yosemite
Andrea M. Gómez

If you’ve ever arrived before dawn to line up in Yosemite for a reservation, you know just how valuable those Valley Floor reservations can be. Now instead of squabbling with line cutters, you may have to hit the lottery to pitch your tent in one popular site.

A new pilot program for Camp 4 — just west of the Valley Lodge — will award reservations based on a daily lottery run through

“Visitor demands for a camping space at Camp 4 have been increasing over the past decade and the current registration system no longer serves the public and meets the needs of current campers. Under the current system, campers have to line up and wait for a first-come, first-served camping space to open,” Yosemite officials wrote in a press release. “This system is inefficient and has contributed to wildlife issues due to improper food storage, out of bounds camping, and conflicts between campers.”

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Now, the spaces in Camp 4 will be awarded in a daily lottery system similar to the permitting process used for people who hope to climb Half Dome.

“The lottery opens at 12:01 am Pacific time the day before your intended arrival date. The lottery is open until 4:00 pm Pacific time. The lottery automatically matches applicants with the number of open camping spaces. All people who enter the daily lottery will be notified by email on the results of their lottery application,” park officials explained.

Camp 4 is the only tent camping site currently run on the daily booking system. Other tent camp reservations are released on a schedule. You can find that information on the National Parks Service website.

The pilot program launches on May 21 and will run through through at least September.