Camping in Yosemite National Park

Camping in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is widely known as one of the most magnificent parks in the entire USA. Visitors have many options for lodging, but it’s also possible to car camp or travel by horse or by foot. Those wishing to do so, however, should be aware of what is available within the park and how to secure a place to bed down for the night.

There are thirteen campgrounds within the park, ten of which have hookups for RVs. Four of these are located in Yosemite Valley, close to the village. These are good choices for those who want to experience the area for the first time or for those with smaller children who want access to at least some of the comforts of civilization (groceries and showers are located nearby). Three of them (Upper, Lower, and North Pines) allow RV hookups and take reservations; the fourth, eponymously named, is only for those staying in tents and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. All of them have access to tap water. Prices range from six to twenty-six dollars a night. Note that Camp Four does not allow pets, and that Lower and North Pines are closed during the high winter months.

In the southern part of the park campers have their choice of Wawona or Bridalveil Creek campgrounds. The first is open all year, the second during the summer months only. Wawona takes reservations, but Bridalveil Creek does not; both allow pets. RVs are welcomed at both of these camping areas, and there is tap water available. There is a small grocery store available in Wawona, but the closest showers are located in Yosemite Village or in motels in Fish Camp, 15 miles away.

In the north, there are seven campsites. Of these, only Hodgdon Meadows is open all year; it allows RVs and takes reservations for the summer months. The other six campgrounds have different dates for opening and closing, dependent on their elevations. Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows campgrounds take reservations; the latter also has campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. The remaining four campsites – Tamarack Flat, White Wolf, Yosemite Creek, and Porcupine Flat – do not take reservations. Note that Yosemite Creek and Tamarack Flat offer sites for tent camping only, and that Porcupine Flat has limited RV spaces; these three campgrounds do not offer tap water (there is creek water, but it must be boiled before drinking) or flush toilets (vault toilets are available.) There is a small grocery store in Crane Flat, but showers are not available.

Those traveling with larger groups or with horses can find campsites in the southern and northern areas of the park. Wawona group campground is open all year, whereas Hodgdon Meadow, Bridalveil Creek, and Tuolumne Meadow group sites are only available during the summer. Those who wish to explore Yosemite on horseback can camp in sites which include areas for horse trailers. Wawona campground has two sites, Bridalveil Falls has three, and Tuolumne Meadows has four. There are no group or horse campgrounds within Yosemite Valley.

Note that reservations, which are available for half of the campgrounds, are very difficult to come by. One can reserve campgrounds roughly three months in advance, but the sites often sell out by seven in the morning on the day in which they become available. Those wishing to try for the first-come areas should arrive early, as these often fill up before noon. Staying in an RV outside of a campground is not allowed.

Backpacking is also allowed for those who first procure a backcountry permit. As always, the wilderness is exactly that – wild – and those considering this option should make sure they are up to the challenge. At high elevation and far from civilization, this area is unforgiving of those who come without adequate preparation; be sure to be in proper physical shape and with appropriate gear and clothing.

Reservations can be made at or at 1-877-444-6777. For those outside the USA, call 518-885-3639. Wilderness permits are available at

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Lodging in Yosemite

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