Camping in Yosemite is an experience that you won’t forget!
Yosemite is the third oldest national park in the contiguous United States. But it was Yosemite that captured the public’s eye and lit the fire for the idea of National Parks.
This park draws millions of travelers from all over the world each year.
Why You Should Go Camping in Yosemite
This national park is undoubtedly one of the most special places on earth. The park contains some of the most breathtaking vistas and natural wonders in North America. Hiking through the giant sequoias. Or taking a dip in a river running through marble rock cliffs are just two examples of what makes Yosemite so spectacular. These adventures put even hiking in San Diego to shame.
Why Makes Yosemite so Special?
The sheer number of activities to do in Yosemite is part of what makes it so unique. From hiking and waterfalls to rock climbing and wildlife watching, you’ll never run out of things to do in Yosemite!
There are also many ways to experience Yosemite National Park. Besides camping, there are more options for Yosemite lodging. Like hotels, cabins, and lodges. And other accommodations are available within the park itself.
Best Time to Go Camping Yosemite
The best time to visit Yosemite National Park depends on what you’re looking for out of your trip. Want cooler temperatures? Then winter months may be better suited for you. While summer months may be better suited for those who want warmer weather and fewer crowds!
Yosemite National Park is a beautiful place to visit year-round. The park’s diverse landscapes allow for an incredible variety of activities throughout the year.
Many factors affect the weather in Yosemite National Park. Including elevation, proximity to the Pacific Ocean, and even global climate change.
The best time to visit Yosemite depends on what you want to do while in the park. If you prefer cooler temperatures in winter and spring, then late fall or early spring would be ideal.
If you want to beat the crowds and avoid high summer temperatures, then summer may be your best bet.
But this depends on what you want. A lot of people think Camping in Yosemite in February is the best time.
Are Reservations Required for Yosemite
You need a reservation for camping in Yosemite. These are required all year.
And there are two different types of reservations: Wilderness Permits and Campground Reservations.
But some campsites just outside the park and on this list are first come first serve. So if you don’t get a reservation then camping near Yosemite is still an option.
What is a Wilderness Permit
A wilderness permit is required whether you are staying in Yosemite Valley or the surrounding areas. A wilderness permit is not the same thing as a camping reservation. Wilderness permits are free on a first-come, first-served basis. And you can get them ahead of time. Or at visitor centers throughout Yosemite National Park and many other locations within the park. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backcountry use (camping, hiking, bicycling, etc.).
Tips for Getting a Yosemite Camping Reservation
Yosemite is one of the most popular places to visit in California, and for good reason! It’s a truly beautiful place. The campgrounds are no exception.
The only downside? Campsites in Yosemite are extremely popular and typically sell out in minutes. It is easier and quicker, and you greatly increase your odds by booking online. Yosemite releases a new block of campsites on the 15th of each month at 7:00 a.m. Pacific or 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
So how do you reserve a campsite? Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your trip:
1) Be ready! Make sure that you’re signed into your account at 7:00 am Pacific time on the 15th so that you can begin booking right away when they go on sale.
2) Book early! If you don’t get what you want right away, keep checking back throughout the day until it’s gone. You may snag something else if someone else cancels their reservation (or if something opens up).
3) Be flexible! If there’s something specific that you want, but it isn’t available for your entire stay. Then try stringing together multiple campsites if possible.
The NPS has all the info you need about Yosemite camping reservations 2022.
Where to Go Camping in Yosemite
Camping in Yosemite National Park is an unforgettable experience for any nature lover. Its wildlife matches the beauty of the park’s landscape. Animals like bears, squirrels, deer, and more. If you have never been camping before. Then visiting Yosemite can give you a taste of what it’s like to sleep under the stars with nothing but trees surrounding you. It’s a pretty great alternative for Airbnb, am I right?
Lower Pines Campground
Lower Pines Campground is in the heart of Yosemite Valley, just a short walk from some of the best attractions in Yosemite National Park. It’s an ideal place to pitch your tent and get away from it all.
The campground is open year-round, but reservations are only available up to five months in advance on the 15th of each month. For example, on January 15, the period May 15 to June 14 becomes available to reserve. And the full booking window would be from January 16 to June 14.
Reservable sites are available at Lower Pines Campground from $27 per night for tents only. And $35 per night for tents with utilities; or $45 per night for RV camping with utilities (electricity only).
You can also reserve group camping spaces for up to 20 people-these cost $125 per night with water and electric hookups included! Prices change so it is important to double-check these prices before planning your visit.
Best Campground in Yosemite
Upper Pines Campgrounds in Yosemite
Upper Pines Campground is open year-round and has 238 campsites set in a beautiful Ponderosa pine forest. It is the largest of three campgrounds in the Yosemite Valley. And offers spectacular scenery and amazing wonders that boggle the imagination.
There are also many historic sites and museums to visit throughout the Park. Horse stables are also near the Upper Pines campground, with trail rides available to the public. You can also rent a raft and float the Merced River. It is one of the most popular campground in Yosemite and rivals some of the camping in Big Sur.
North Pines Campground is one of the most popular spots for camping in Yosemite. The campground is open from April to September, but it fills up fast during the summer months, and reservations are required.
The sites are spacious, there are 81 camping spots. And each spot can fit up to 6 people. There are restrooms and showers available and there is an RV dump station nearby.
If you’re looking for a serene place to pitch your tent, look no further than the Wawona Campground. Along the South Fork Merced River. And close to historic Wawona, at an elevation of 4,000 feet (1,219 m), this campground is just 27 miles and approximately 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley.
The majestic Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is just a short drive away. And the Pioneer History Center is in nearby Wawona, where you can see some of the park’s oldest structures. Wawona offers a visitor center and a market. This is a sizeable area for a group camp.
Near Yosemites South entrance, this is one of the most popular campsites in the park.
White Wolf Campground
White Wolf Campground is a great place to stay if you want to be close to Yosemite Valley. But don’t want to pay the price of a hotel. The sites are usually open from July through mid-September.
There are many wondrous sites to enjoy only a short drive away. Once visitors reach Yosemite Valley. They can take advantage of the free shuttle to deliver them to almost all the favorite attractions in the valley.
There are standard tent and RV campsites available at White Wolf Campground, as well as a Backpackers Campsite.
The Middle Tuolumne River flows past the campground. Which makes it an ideal spot for hikers who like to explore the nearby wilderness areas.
White Wolf Campground is located 1 mile off Tioga Road and is about 1 hour from Yosemite Valley and 28 miles from Tuolumne Meadows. But if you plan a trip with Google Maps, it is easy to find.
Hodgdon Meadow Campground
If you’re looking for a place to stretch out and relax, Hodgdon Meadow Campground is a great option.
Along the Big Oak Flat Road at the Big Oak Flat Entrance, it’s convenient to both Yosemite Valley and other campgrounds in the park. At an elevation of 4,900 feet (1,219 m), it’s along the western edge of the park and 25 miles from Yosemite Valley.
There’s also a gas station and minimal convenience items available at Crane Flat. Trailheads for both Merced Grove and Tuolumne Grove are within a short drive of the campground.
There is also RV Camping.
Reservations are an available max of one month at a time and must be made in advance. The park opens up on April 11th!
Porcupine Flat Campground
If you’re looking for a quiet, remote place to camp, Porcupine Flat Campground is the place for you. Located off the Tioga Road about 30 minutes west of Tuolumne Meadows. And over an hour from Yosemite Valley, I do not recommend Porcupine Flat for RVs or trailers because of its narrow roads.
The campground sites are at 8,100 feet (2,500 m) elevation. So very high up there!
Porcupine Creek is the only water source at this campground (must be filtered, treated, or boiled). The Porcupine Creek Trailhead is nearby. If you want to explore more of Yosemite National Park than just Yosemite Valley, this might be a good option for you!
Dry Gulch Campground
Dry Gulch Campground is a small, quiet campground near Yosemite National Park. Most sites have access to the Merced River, and it’s a great place to go if you’re looking for a peaceful, relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Oak trees provide shade along the river, and vault toilets are available. The campsites are accessible to all visitors. Whether you’re in a wheelchair or need extra help to get around. And there’s plenty of space for tents and RVs alike.
The road is paved, leading up to Dry Gulch Campground. So it’s easy to access even if you’re driving an RV or large vehicle.
There are no drinking water stations at this campground; however, you can fill up your containers from a nearby creek if needed. Pack it in, pack it out: no trash cans here!
Tuolumne Meadows Campground
Note: Tuolumne Meadows is going through a makeover and is closed until 2024 or 2025. Check the National Park Service website for more information.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground is Yosemite’s largest and is close to Tioga Road. Some areas are close to the Tuolumne River. At 8,000 feet (2,600 m) this campground is open seasonally. And has wonderful summer access to many hikes, lakes, and prominent viewpoints. The campground is not far away from Yosemite Valley, but a small store, grill, and post office are close by in Tuolumne Meadows.
Crane Flat Campground
Note: Crane Flat Campground is also undergoing a renovation and is closed until 2023.
The Crane Flat Campground is along the Big Oak Flat Road, a short distance northwest of Yosemite Valley. It sits at a lofty 6,200 ft (1,900 m) elevation near Crane Flat.
Need supplies? There is a gas station and a handful of convenience items located nearby at Crane Flat. Hiking trailheads for both the Merced Grove and the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias are within a short drive of the campground.
It is not as grand as Sequoia national park! But any giant sequoia is still beautiful.
Yosemite Creek Campground
Yosemite Creek Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Yosemite National Park. Because you’re not too far from Yosemite Falls and a short stroll from Yosemite Valley. Imagine the sound of rushing water in the background and the crackling of the fire nearby.
Peak season is from May to September, but this campground offers shaded sites, hot showers, a post office, and groceries year round.
High Sierra Campsite
Wilderness Permits are required for these campsites. These permits are free! But there is a limited number, so try to get them early. Here are the two best High Sierra camp to choose from.
Bridalveil Creek on the Merced River, this site is open year-round and has access to water and primitive toilets. It’s also close to hiking trails that lead into Yosemite Valley and other parts of the park’s southern section.
Sunrise Camp sits along the Merced River. Near Sunrise Creek, this site is open from June through September only (weather permitting). It features one shelter that can accommodate six people. There are two portable toilets nearby. But no other amenities such as running water or electricity.
There are many backcountry campsites in Sierra National Forest to choose from. Here are some options for you.
- Glen Aulin
- Merced Lake (Not as grand as Lake Louise in Canada, but still beautiful)
- May Lake
Tamarack Flat Campground
Tamarack Flat Campground works on a first come first serve basis. And there is no RV park at this site. And offers few services, but it’s a great place to escape the crowds of Yosemite Valley and enjoy some solitude.
The small array of tent-only campsites is spread along Tamarack Creek. There is a surprising charm to this often-overlooked little campground. And it sits away from the busier areas of the park. Since they do not provide tap water, creek water needs to be filtered, treated, or boiled before use. We must store food and other scented items in bear-proof boxes.
The 52 campsites at Tamarack Flat Campground are well separated, offering an unusual amount of privacy.
Other Yosemite Campground
We could talk all day about the different campsites. And I think by this point it is obvious that Yosemite camping is a great bucket list idea. Above are some of the most popular in the park. But there are other campsites not as popular as Upper Pines, Wawona Campground, and North Pines.
Here are some other options for Yosemite Camping.
- Housekeeping Camp
- Fish Camp
Best Things to See When Camping in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the world. With its breathtaking scenery, Yosemite has something for everyone. On our Yosemite camping adventure, here are some of the best things to see in the park.
Yosemite Village is a great place to start. As it is a gateway, too many of the best things to see in Yosemite. And the raw beauty of nature puts even some of the natural beauty attractions of Route 66 to shame.
Here are some of the best things to see in Yosemite Park:
Yosemite’s tallest waterfall stands at 2,450 feet. From June to October, you can walk behind the falls and get an amazing view from above.
From Glacier Point, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, and Nevada Fall. It’s also an ideal place for a picnic or a hike along Sentinel Dome Trail. Glacier Point is the opposite of visiting Volcanic National Park in Hawaii. But both are beautiful.
The three lakes in Yosemite Valley. Granite outcrops and pine trees surround Lower Lyell Lake, North Pocono Lake, and South Pocono Lake. The views of these lakes are breathtaking!
Tenaya Lake is one of three lakes within Little Yosemite Valley near Half Dome Peak on
Yosemite has a natural beauty that only a few places in the world hold. Like Halong Bay Vietnam.
Just make sure you make reservations for camping in Yosemite.
Everything you ever needed to know about camping in Yosemite.