Days: 6 Days
Distance: 48 miles/77km
Origin: Half Dome Village, Yosemite National Park
This Yosemite backpacking tour is designed for those looking for a challenging trek through some of Yosemite’s most remote backcountry. The Red Peak Pass Loop offers a stunning backcountry journey complete with high mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, rushing rivers, waterfalls and perfect solitude in some of the most beautiful wilderness in the country. The route to Red Peak Pass, the highest pass in Yosemite accessible by trail, is steep and relentless, demanding good fitness and a desire for a heart challenge. The rewards are many, however, for those who venture to these seldom-visited corners of the park.
Our journey begins at Glacier Point, high above the bustling Yosemite Valley, and descends into the backcountry before making a steady uphill approach to Red Peak Pass. We cross the pass on Day 3 and then descend into the spectacular Merced River watershed and follow the rushing river through its deep canyon, passing Merced Lake and Little Yosemite Valley before arriving at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley on the last day. You won’t see too many other people for much of the journey and you’ll feel like we have the park all to ourselves as we trek through this majestic landscape. This is a great wilderness adventure for those seeking a remote and challenging backpack. Join our Yosemite hiking guides to Red Peak Pass and enjoy the backpacking vacation of a lifetime.
This epic Yosemite hiking tour will start with the group meeting Half Dome Village at a predetermined time. After getting organized, we will catch a shuttle to the trailhead Glacier Point, well-known for its dramatic views of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon and Nevada Falls. We’ll soon leave the crowds behind as we follow Illilouette Creek southeast into the Yosemite wilderness. Our first night’s camp will be along the creek. Your guide will set up camp and cook the first of many delicious meals.
Distance & Elevation: 7 miles, 1000 foot descent/1200 foot ascent
We will start our morning with some hot coffee and a filling breakfast prepared by your guide. Shortly after that, we will pack up camp and continue on with our journey. Today we head up towards Lower Ottoway Lake. The hike is considerably more uphill than the first day but the views are no less rewarding. You’ll see Red Peak in the distance as you pass by Lower Merced Pass and turn up towards Ottoway Creek and our camp by the beautiful lake, deep in the heart of the Yosemite backcountry.
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 2500 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today is a big day as we head for Red Peak Pass, the high point of the journey at 11,150 feet. As always, these steep, strenuous climbs make the summit all the more rewarding. Red Peak Pass is the highest point reached by any trail in Yosemite National Park and we’ll spend some time soaking up the endless views of the High Sierra before starting our descent down the other side. We’ll pass numerous lakes along the way and maybe stop for a swim. Our goal for tonight’s camp is the Triple Peak Fork of the Merced River, about 2500 feet below the pass.
Distance & Elevation: 9 miles, 1500 foot ascent/ 2100 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we head towards Merced Lake. We’ll be heading generally downhill along the Merced River as it carves a beautiful canyon between towering granite cliffs. There are many tempting pools and waterfalls along the way that beckon us to stop for a refreshing dip. If we don’t make it all the way to Merced Lake, there are plenty of excellent places to camp along the way.
Distance/Elevation: 8-10 miles, 1800 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After another night under the star filled sky, we will enjoy another tasty breakfast before packing up camp. We continue to follow the Merced River as it flows out from Merced Lake and begins its majestic descent through Echo and Lost Valleys. The smooth granite walls surround us and the river rushes over endless chutes and waterfalls and into delightful pools. This is one of the most scenic stretches of trail in the park and we’ll take our time to revel in the surroundings. Our final night’s camp is in Little Yosemite Valley.
Distance/Elevation: 7 to 8 miles, 1000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Our final day offers a shorter hike as we head back to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The hike out will follow the historic John Muir Trail back to the valley. This route winds through beautiful forest along the Merced River, affording stunning views of Nevada and Vernal Falls. We will arrive back at the parking area to sort through our gear before heading back to Half Dome Village for a final lunch and fond farewells.
Distance/Elevation: 5.5 miles/2000 foot descent
*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.
- A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
- All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
- All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your guide will prepare all meals)
- All meals from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on the last day + trail snacks
- Backcountry permits and fees
What’s Not Included:
- Transportation to/from Yosemite National Park
- Lodging the night before/after the trip
- Clothing, raingear, and footwear
- Personal toiletries, sunscreen
- Water bottles/hydration bladder
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet
How many people are in the group?
Most trips in Yosemite will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 12 people plus 2 guides.
Are there age restrictions?
Children under the age of 113 are generally not permitted on regularly scheduled trips. This restriction may be negotiable on private tours. Please contact us with any questions regarding this policy.
How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation, we require an initial deposit of $250 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.
Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-877-272-5032
Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in in Yosemite National Park. You will want to fly into San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, or Reno. You will need to arrange your own transportation from airports to the park. In most cases, renting a car is your easiest and best option. Please visit our Travel Resources page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.
Where do we meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 5:00pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the at a pre-arranged location inside the park. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation. Most trips will depart between 7am and 9am.
What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
On the first morning of your trip, you will follow your guide to the long-term parking area where you can leave your car and personal belongings for the duration of the hike. You can also check with your hotel to see if they are willing to store your luggage for you while you hike.
What time will we get back on the last day?
Most trips end at lunchtime on the last day of the trip. If you are considering flying home on the last day of the trip, you should be finished up around 2pm. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-877-272-5032 or email us for details.
When booking your Yosemite Backpacking Tour, make sure that you book out at least 4+ months in advance due to Grand Canyon National Park’s permit system. Backpacking permits are issued on the first of the month 4 months in advance (i.e. Jan 1 for all of May, Feb 1 for June, Mar 1 for July…etc.)