Camping in Yosemite is the dream of many campers. This national park offers visitors not only natural landscapes, but also popular tourist sites such as Mount Lofty, Sun Valley and others.
Many travelers have questions about camping in Yosemite National Park: how to book a spot, what is allowed in the national parks, what types of camping are available in the protected area. In our article we will answer all the questions and give you the best Yosemite Camping Tips.
How hard is it to get a camping spot in Yosemite?
Up to a week prior to arrival, Yosemite National Park visitors can cancel their booking and receive a full refund. The opening of some sites in the online booking system takes place only 7 days before access to the different campsites is opened.
At the same time, there is no guarantee that the sites will open, free Yosemite camping reservations for recreation will be available and this will happen at a certain time. If necessary, you should constantly continue to check access to sites.
There are a few Yosemite camping reservations booking secrets that will make booking a lot easier:
1. Planning for 5 months.
After that, the booking will be open in the 15th month, 5 months before arrival. For example, to camp between October 4 and November 3, count back 5 months (not from the date you want to camp). For the period from October 4 to November 3, you can book a tour on May 4.
Plan ahead, because you need to know everything about what is required from the site and which campsites can provide the necessary services.
2. Lack of electricity, water and sewerage in Yosemite National Park.
Access to fresh water dumps is available at Upper Pines Campground (throughout the year), Wawona Campground (summer), and Tuolumne Meadows Campground (summer).
3. Limited size for motorhomes.
National Park Service reports:
“In Yosemite, the maximum allowed trailer length is 40 feet, and the maximum front-to-rear headlight distance of a motorhome is 35 meters,” however, only 8 Yosemite camping reservations of this size are available (six Yosemite camping reservations in the Lower Pines and two in the Northern Pines open in spring, summer and autumn).
Approximately a few more sites in Yosemite Valley and other places that can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet or trailers up to 24 feet long.”
4. Flexibility in the schedule.
On weekdays it is easier to get a spot for a tent than on weekends, and in the off-season it is easier than in summer, especially in the Valley. So be sure to find out which sites will suit all your needs at each campsite and be flexibly open for a large date period. Remember, if you’re lucky enough to book a Yosemite campsite, it’s because you took the time to plan and were flexible with your timing.
Book for more than one person. To get camping in Yosemite National Park, we recommend asking friends for help. This is especially true when a large family or a group of friends is planning a camping holiday in this national park.
A user can only book a maximum of two tickets per phone call or online transaction, so if you need more, call a friend for help. This is a great way to get extra Yosemite camping reservations at some of most popular campgrounds.
6. Plan to get up early on the opening day of the campsites – at 7:00 AM Pacific time.
You should already be ready to book tickets. When it’s time to book your Yosemite campsite, there’s no time to relax. If you want to secure a spot at the best campsite, you must act quickly, be prepared and use a Pacific time.
This means logging in, choosing a campsite, and getting it ready by 7am PST. You can book online, but remember to book the old fashioned way using your phone.
7. Open multiple tabs.
This will allow you to get a place in one of your favorite campsites. Open several tabs in advance with sites where you want to book slots.
Types of campsites in Yosemite
Best Yosemite Campgrounds for Families
There are 13 tent and caravan sites in Yosemite National Park, and the selection can be overwhelming. Lodging in Yosemite Valley provides easy access to key attractions and wonders of Yosemite without the need for a car, parking lot or shuttle bus. Camping in Yosemite Valley will give your family more freedom and flexibility to see the best of Yosemite National Park with the kids.
Many who go hiking in Yosemite Valley like to take their bikes with them so that they can easily get to different parts of the park? Upper Pines is the largest campsite in Yosemite Valley, so there are more Yosemite camping reservations here than elsewhere. The North Pines and Lower Pines also routinely close many sites in the spring due to flooding and Camp 4 is not accepting Yosemite reservations.
From North Pines Campground, Yosemite Falls, the Valley Visitor Center, and Mirror Lake are easily accessible on foot or by bike. Families with older children can also easily access Bridal Veil Falls. Camp 4 provides even closer access to the Visitor Center and Yosemite Falls (however, this is on a first-come, first-served basis). (Also, Camp 4 is next to the main road, which we don’t like, but Pines Camp is much quieter and more private).
Yosemite campsites with kids outside the valley
If travelers want to see the giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove, Wawona Camp is a great place to camp with kids. Please note that Mariposa Grove Road is closed in winter and can be accessed using snowshoes, cross-country skiing or on foot. Note: Wawona Campsite is currently unavailable due to sewer repairs.
If you haven’t been able to book a campsite in Yosemite Valley, there are great campsites outside of the Valley. They are also ideal if tourists have already seen all the sights in the Valley and want to see what is outside the park.
Several sites in the northern part of the Valley (including Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows) are open to booking at certain times of the year. The first two are good places to explore Hetch Hetchy, while Tuolumne Meadows is worth visiting Yosemite separately.
Dog Accommodation in Yosemite
Yosemite has dog-friendly accommodations everywhere, where you can walk your pets and explore many interesting trails. Choose from hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, cottage rentals, camping and more. Then use the advanced filter to see which options are right for your pet. You can also narrow down your choices by region, such as Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Fish Camp at the south end of the park, or El Portal, Mariposa, Mid Pines, and Cathy Valley at the west end of the park.
Some hotels, such as Yosemite’s Tenaya Lodge, are pet-friendly and offer pet-friendly packages. Tenaya also offers dog sitter services so you can explore Yosemite’s non-dog trails.
Pets are not allowed in the park inns, but if you want to live closer to the park, you can rent lodges at the park gates in Wawona, Yosemite West, and Forest. Wawona also has several pet-friendly bed and breakfasts. Most of the campsites in national parks, in addition to walking camps and places for groups, are also suitable for overnight stays with pets.
When considering camping sites in Yosemite, it is sad to learn that campsite managers prohibit car camping in the national park for a variety of reasons, including safety. However, there are campsites around the park where you can camp in cars, vans, and SUVs.
What you need to know about camping in Yosemite?
- Once you make a booking, it will be valid for up to 5 months. Unfortunately, the competition is very tough. Therefore, you need to register exactly 5 months before the first night of your trip. To get to the desired date, you need to visit Yosemite site more often, and then you can find Yosemite camping reservations for the desired dates.
- The calendar of opening and closing seasons of the campsite changes every year. So be sure to check the website to find out which campsites will be open on your trip.
- First of all, the sites that are in the queue should be published by the middle of the day. Plan your trip so that you can arrive at the campsite before it is full.
- At the moment, all showers in the park are available for vacationers. They are located on the territory of Karri village, as are the cleaning camps (not campsites).
- Standard camping, which has a standard area, is designed for six people. One campsite or two campsites can be booked if you have a large group. You can also find a place offering double or group rooms.
- Yosemite is the country of bears. For food storage, Yosemite campsites have bear boxes that have the ability to store food and other scented items, but you should learn the rules for storing such products before you go.
Usually, a traveler needs a permit to gain access to a backcountry campsite. You can get it from the relevant authorities. But for wildlife tours, you can get free permits, which are available all year round. They are valid for overnight stays or tourist trips.
Is it safe to tent camp in Yosemite?
Someone may ask, what will happen if you see a bear? The park has American black bears and this has generated a lot of interest from park visitors and staff. They may surprise or shock you, but of course they are not grizzlies or brown bears, so you can rest easy.
How many days should I camp at Yosemite?
You can see many areas in Yosemite in one day, but you can never see all the best places in the park in just 1 day.
In one day, travelers can drive to Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point, two of the most popular areas of the reserve. Appreciate the beauty and grandeur of the mountain peaks in the valley. Get great views of Half Dome from Glacier Point.
During one day in Yosemite, you will not have enough time to explore the beauty of small and remote stops, which will also limit your observation of the beauties of nature. You will need to travel to the most popular areas of the park during the busiest part of the day, so be prepared for a lot of people and traffic.
2 Days campground
One option to consider is booking two full days for a full tour of Yosemite. For two days, you have the opportunity to fully explore the territory of the Yosemite Valley Lodge and Half Dome from Glacier Point Park, but you do not need to rush. You can avoid crowds in both of these areas of the city.
3 Days campground
If you have time to add some other interesting sights to your itinerary, consider adding the Mariposa giant sequoia grove to the south of the park. After three days in Yosemite, it can be said that fun things are really getting better. In three days you can visit Yosemite all the roads of the park. We are accessible from Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove.
If you have a desire to explore Tioga Road, then you can spend a little time exploring this magnificent attraction. This road can be found in Yosemite’s high alpine landscape at about 10,000 feet above sea level and offers stunning views of lakes, rivers and mountains! If you have three days to rest in the park, then you can enjoy it to the fullest.
In case you are going to attend a special event such as horseback riding, biking, or a longer route in Yosemite, I would plan for a minimum of three full days of sightseeing. You can explore most of Yosemite in three days, but it’s amazing what can happen in one day.
4 Days campground
The opportunity to stay in Yosemite for four full days will allow you to see the most impressive sights of the park that most people in the world have not seen. In four full days, you will be able to see all the main attractions of the park, walk along some trails, observe wildlife and feel solitude. You will be able to see all the main attractions of the park in full.
Staying for four days will give you more opportunities to take great photos, no matter the lighting or weather conditions. You can also make the most of your evening by having dinner, taking part in a ranger-sponsored program, rock climbers or returning to your favorite Yosemite camping reservations after the crowds have left.
Another great thing about spending four whole days in the park is that it’s easier to get to crowded places. This saves time and gives you more privacy!
What is not allowed in Yosemite?
Yosemite is a magical place for travelers and their best friends as the park is dog friendly. Yosemite has a variety of trails for you and your dog to enjoy, but please remember a few important rules for the safety of your pet and valuable Yosemite wildlife.
In Yosemite, you can find accommodation for dog and cat owners throughout the region. Choose from hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, cottage rentals, camping and more. Then use the advanced filter to see which options are right for your pet.
You can also narrow down your choices by region, such as Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Fish Camp at the south end of the park, or El Portal, Mariposa, Mid Pines, and Cathy Valley at the west end of the park.
Because the park is supposed to protect the ecosystem and wildlife, as well as manage large numbers of visitors, there are places where dogs are not allowed. However, if you follow a few simple rules, you can explore many of Yosemite’s sights with your dog.
General rules for dogs in Yosemite National Park
- Pets must be kept on a short leash no longer than 2 m.
- Never leave your dog unattended in Yosemite.
- Clean up after your pet. Carry a food bag with you and throw away pet waste in the bin.
- Remember that wild animals also love pet food. Store animal food the same way you store human food.
What is the best month to go to Yosemite?
A visit Yosemite National Park can be all year round, but May and early or late September are the best months. When a peak season is over is due to less traffic congestion when accessing park facilities. However, some roads along the park are closed for most of the year due to high snow density.
Check also the another article about Yosemite: Yosemite winter camping – the best places.
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