There are five resupply options available along the JMT, and as my very first thru-hike that requires strategically planning out all of my food for 3-weeks, I wanted the full experience of the resupply process, and I wanted to try them all. From purchasing five 5-gallon plastic buckets, planning out all meals for nearly a month (when I don’t even know what’s for dinner tonight), mailing them out to each resupply point, and then– hiking additional miles to retrieve your resupply, only to load your pack back up with pounds of food, snacks, and instant meals. I wanted to fully experience each resupply as they are each unique in their own way. Sometimes, that meant having to hike additional miles.
Here’s a look at all 5 resupply options heading southbound along the JMT:
Tuolumne Meadows (Mile 23)
Tuolumne Meadows is a special place in Yosemite National Park. Thru-hikers are encouraged to mail their resupply to the post office listed at the address below. Tuolumne Meadows also has a general store where you can pretty much purchase all food, and snacks instead of mailing your resupply. Tuolumne Meadows is open seasonally, so be sure to check the status before finalizing your plans. From first aid to snacks, nice cold beer, sometimes even fruit the Tuolumne Meadows general store has everything you’ll need to get back on the trail.
Tuolumne Meadows is generally open from May to mid-September.
c/o General Delivery
Tuolumne Meadows Post Office
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Red’s Meadow (Mile 60)
Unlike Tuolumne Meadows, Red’s Meadow has a “resort” with cabins available for rent. Of course, it’s optional for hikers, but always a nice option! There is a small cafe, general store, and restrooms! If you mention to other hikers on the trail that you’re resupplying at Red’s Meadow, they may encourage you to try their near $20 burger- which doesn’t sound too bad after hiking 60 miles from Yosemite Valley. There is a backpacker’s campground available to hikers, and reservations should be made in advance if you plan to stay at any one of their cabins.
Red’s Meadow is generally open from June to the end of September.
If you plan to mail your resupply to Red’s Meadow, be sure to make a reservation, fill out this form, and pay the required holding fee.
Red’s Meadow Resort
P.O. Box 395
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Hold For Hiker ETA:___
Vermilion Valley Resort -aka VVR- (Mile 88)
Tuolumne and Red’s Meadow are both located less than a mile from the John Muir Trail, making it easy to access your resupply. Vermilion Valley Resort is not on the JMT, but the extra 4-miles it takes to hike in (when the ferry isn’t running) is TOTALLY worth it! VVR is located alongside Lake Edison, making it a special place to unwind, resupply, and connect with other hikers. There are rental cabins available to hikers, and for a small fee ($7) you can take a nice hot shower, and do a load of laundry. There is a small store, a restaurant, and a backpackers campground known as Mushroom City.
I decided not to mail a resupply here, but I still wanted to experience VVR. I spoiled myself a bit with such accommodations, and I would recommend to anyone hiking the JMT to experience VVR at least once. There are also “hiker boxes” available at VVR, allowing you to get rid of any extra weight that you may have been holding on to, OR picking up any goodies that someone left behind.
Vermilion Valley Resort is generally open from May to October.
c/o VVR – General Delivery
Lakeshore, California 93634
Muir Trail Ranch -aka MTR- (Mile 108)
Muir Trail Ranch is another resupply option off the JMT, but not too far from it. Most hikers will end their resupply here, stocking up on meals for the next 100+ miles to Mount Whitney. If you don’t mail yourself a resupply bucket to MTR, they are well-known for having one of the best “hiker boxes” available. There is not a backpackers campground, but there are plenty of camping options along the river.
Muir Trail Ranch is generally open from June to the end of September.
In order to resupply at MTR, you’ll need to make a reservation, fill out this form, and pay the required holding fees.
c/o Muir Trail Ranch
PO Box 176
Lakeshore, CA 93634
Onion Valley, CA (Mile 196.5)
Onion Valley is a little town located in Inyo National Forest. Thru-hikers will often hitch into town to resupply before the last stretch to Mount Whitney. While all others, except VVR, are located near the JMT, Onion Valley is far from it, and not the most convenient resupply option. However, with hotel accommodations, gas station food, and a post office- some thru-hikers take full advantage of these options and don’t mind the extra 15 miles for the sake of some comfort off the trail.
With the right research, you can often find some of these hotels offer hiker packages to those resupplying in Onion Valley. I made reservations with Mt. Williamson Motel, and purchased one of their hiker packages that include: transportation to and from the trail, 1 night accommodation, breakfast, and the holding of your resupply bucket.
c/o General Delivery
Independence, CA 93526
NEED TO KNOW:
The general resupply process is the same, but it’s important to check with each option before mailing out your buckets.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- plastic buckets are required for MTR, no cardboard boxes accepted.
- resupplies should weigh less than 25 lbs. or additional fees may be incured
- you’ll want to mail out your resupply packages 2-3 weeks in advance from your start date
- thousands of resupply packages to sort through, make your’s fun and noticeable!
- mailed too much? some resupplies will allow you to mail things back home
- keep a list on your phone of everything in each resupply, so you know what to look forward to!
- extra space? Pack treats/goodies for resupply day only! Wine, bag of chips, etc. I packed a can of Pringles!
- Hiker Boxes: are boxes located at resupply stations where hikers are able to leave food, first-aid, hygiene products, gear, and any other items they no longer need for other hikers to take and use.