Yosemite National Park

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About Yosemite National Park

To put Yosemite National Park into words is quite the challenge, (this video does a pretty job of putting it into moving images though). There is no better place in California that envelops the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, and the tranquility of the High Sierra than Yosemite. Perhaps most famous for the granite rock formation Half Dome, Yosemite is almost equally well-known for its plethora of spectacular waterfalls (measuring up to almost 2,500-feet!). Yosemite is a place that must be visited within a lifetime and with 1,200 square miles to explore, there truly is a unique experience to be had for everyone.

Campgrounds in Yosemite

Upper Pines Campground

1. Upper Pines Campground

95% Recommend (75 Campers)

As with most things in Yosemite, bigger is better. Same goes for Upper Pines Campground (this spot has 238 campsites yo!). It very well may be the...

Courtney
Courtney: Upper Pines: not for getting away from people. You are crammed in. People will walk through your campsite. But it really can't...
100 Saves
Tuolumne Meadows Campground

2. Tuolumne Meadows Campground

100% Recommend (9 Campers)

This massive campground has 304 spots-- some even for horses and a handful of group and backpacking sites. Here you can find Mountaineering School,...

Jacqueline
Jacqueline: Camp here and hike up to Lower Cathedral Lake, about 5 miles, for some of the most beautiful sights you will see. Make sure to...
99 Saves
White Wolf Campground

3. White Wolf Campground

100% Recommend (6 Campers)

This circular campground is surrounded by the towering mountains, the Seasonal Creek, and lush green plants. Harden Lake and Lukens Lake are nearby...

Fariss
Fariss: This site is really nice. It can get very cold at night due to elevation.
83 Saves
Tuolumne Meadows Walk-In Campground

4. Tuolumne Meadows Walk-In Campground

97% Recommend (36 Campers)

Jacquie
Jacquie: We love the Tuolumne Meadows backpackers camp before and after our main trek. The walk-in camp is behind the A loop. Family...
76 Saves
Camp 4

5. Camp 4

100% Recommend (4 Campers)

Camp 4 definitely stands out with a giant rock in the middle of the campground. Maybe not a rock as big as Half Dome (is anything that big?), but a...

Olivia
Olivia: Best to show up in the wee hours of the morning. Bring your sleeping bag and take a nap in line. Whole party has to be present...
52 Saves
Yosemite Creek Campground

6. Yosemite Creek Campground

Ten Lakes trail is only 2 miles away and tents can be set up all along the winding Yosemite Creek in this amazing campground. Dip your toes in the...

Desiree
Desiree: Definitely away from the crowds of Yosemite Valley, at least an hour away. Once you turn off Tioga Rd and onto the access road,...
39 Saves
Tamarack Flat Campground

7. Tamarack Flat Campground

North of Yosemite Valley, this sprawling campground is based around the burbling Tamarack Creek. This site is ideal for those seeking a quieter...

Valerie
Valerie: This is a GREAT camp group. We loved it! Lot's of trees and privacy (very quiet). The hike to the top of El Capitan starts from...
36 Saves
Lower Pines Campground

8. Lower Pines Campground

100% Recommend (8 Campers)

Lower Pines is equally as cool as Upper Pines Campground. The site is smaller with 60 spots, but the relaxed vibe and convenient amenities remain...

Jeff
Jeff: It's a short walk from Lower Pines Campground to Curry Village, where you may find bears foraging for apples under apple trees...
35 Saves
Wawona Campground

9. Wawona Campground

98% Recommend (53 Campers)

Next to the Merced River, at an elevation of 4000 ft, and towards the southern end of Yosemite National Park, lies Wawona Campground. Wouldn’t it...

Alicia
Alicia: Campsites are packed quite close together, so not the best campground for privacy. Mosquitos can be vicious in the summer as...
26 Saves
Crane Flat Campground

10. Crane Flat Campground

Crane Flat is a popular campground northwest of Yosemite Valley. Wake up to the sunlight filtering through the branches, and stop by the...

Jeff
Jeff: Bears feed in the meadows at Crane Flat in the spring, which is late May through early June at this elevation.
20 Saves
Bridalveil Creek Campground

11. Bridalveil Creek Campground

100% Recommend (3 Campers)

Bridalveil Creek runs throughout this spacious campground and a beautiful meadow is only a few steps away for laying in the sun or setting up a...

19 Saves
Porcupine Flat Campground

12. Porcupine Flat Campground

100% Recommend (7 Campers)

This campground offers many more secluded camping sites. Porcupine Creek forms a semicircle around this gorgeous patch of woods and it is a great...

Michael
Michael: Basically, you should bring your own water. You can filter from a creek with poor water quality.
18 Saves
North Pines Campground

13. North Pines Campground

North Pines has an awesome location with Merced River on one side and Tenaya Creek on another. Mirror Lake is close by and the Yosemite Valley...

14 Saves
Hodgdon Meadow Campground

14. Hodgdon Meadow Campground

97% Recommend (16 Campers)

Hodgdon Meadow Campground is definitely a “no-frills” experience. The sites are rather vanilla, a little tight, and privacy is limited. It’s also a...

Paulina
Paulina: Crowded campground, and extremely noisy with campers who leave the city to party in the woods. Close to Tuolumne Grove of Giant...
8 Saves

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March 31st, 2015
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67 Reviews

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Hipcamper Valerie

This is a GREAT camp group. We loved it! Lot's of trees and privacy (very quiet). The hike to the top of El Capitan starts from this camp group, and it's a great hike (LONG-16.8 miles), but awesome, totally worth the views. On the way we saw a black bear and her cub, which the rangers said was a rare sighting. It was scary, but awesome! The only drawback to this campsite is the entrance, you have to come down a steep dirt road with a lot of bumps, we drove our (new) Prius and we made it pretty good (no scratches), but an RV would be almost impossible. Other than that it was great!

Helpful 8
Helpful 8
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Hipcamper Courtney

Upper Pines: not for getting away from people. You are crammed in. People will walk through your campsite. But it really can't be beat location wise. You can shower at Curry Village. Bring a bike! And something to float on in the river. And cold beer.

Helpful 7
Helpful 7
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Hipcamper Peter

November is a perfect time to camp in Yosemite. The weather is moderate, the bugs & tourists are gone, campfires are more enjoyable & most roads are still open.

Helpful 5
Helpful 5
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Hipcamper arnie

Easily accessible to Curry Village, Mirror Lake (albeit a bit of a walk) and a multitude of hiking trails makes Upper Pines a fantastic site to pitch a tent and call home.

Helpful 5
Helpful 5
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Hipcamper Paulina

Crowded campground, and extremely noisy with campers who leave the city to party in the woods. Close to Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Would not recommend if you're looking for a peaceful escape.

Hipcamper Jacqueline

Camp here and hike up to Lower Cathedral Lake, about 5 miles, for some of the most beautiful sights you will see. Make sure to get up and out early so you can picnic lunch up there, hang out and make it back by sunset.

Lyell Canyon Creek, about 3-5miles outside the Meadows has amazing spots along the creek to put up a hammock and enjoy some reading in the woods.

Hipcamper A
A

Yosemite is BIG, just realize that if you are coming in on one side of the park and have to get to the other, it could take you 1-1.5 hours

Hipcamper Cristina

Super packed and high traffic. People come and go at all hours of the night! Didn't sleep at all both nights even though I was tired from hiking Mt.Dana, the lakes, etc. When it rains, which it did, a small rivers flows thru, watch where you pitch your tent

Hipcamper Olivia

Best to show up in the wee hours of the morning. Bring your sleeping bag and take a nap in line. Whole party has to be present when the ranger arrives.

Hipcamper A
A

Yosemite is big and a lot of hikes have some serious vert, be prepared with your water, trail mix, blister pads AND bug spray. We don’t need “hangry” (hungry + angry) people on the trail.

Hipcamper Clara

All four seasons in Yosemite offer a different, gorgeous experience. I personally prefer the Fall above the rest, but they're all magnificent and varied. Spring is my second favorite. Beware traffic in the valley during the Summer.

Hipcamper Jeff

Bears feed in the meadows at Crane Flat in the spring, which is late May through early June at this elevation.

Hipcamper Jeff

It's a short walk from Lower Pines Campground to Curry Village, where you may find bears foraging for apples under apple trees in the parking lot from late August into September.

Hipcamper Fresh Off

Sites in the A loop give you the easiest access to the river. While it is (freezing) cold throughout the summer, there are some good spots to swim, and depending on the water level, a great natural waterslide.

Hipcamper Jaymee

If solitude, peace and quiet is what you want, this is not the campground. However, it is conveniently positioned near major trail heads. Though the spaces are small and cramped, the other campers are respectful and obey quiet hours. Bathrooms are clean!

Hipcamper Matthew

Visited in November to a pleasantly half-empty campground, full of climbers and fellow New Zealanders. I'd suggest coming a little earlier as the Tioga Road gets closed around this time. Good temperatures for walking. A bear wandered past my tent one night, which was exciting. Go easy on bringing food with you as you have to lug it to your campsite bear locker, and there's a well-stocked shop in the valley.

Hipcamper Joe

Was a very crowded campground, even during the weekdays. Camped next to a family with a dad yelling at his kids the whole time. Even when one kid was sick and throwing up he was still yelling at him! The best part about it was its location, as we stayed there in between our nights in the valley and our backpacking trip in the Yosemite backcountry. It is very conveniently located for that, only a couple of miles from the junction of Tioga Rd and the road into Yosemite Valley. It served its purpose as a place to sleep, but that's about it. Definitely the low point of the Yosemite trip, but the bar there is very high.

Hipcamper Andrew

Sites are quite close to each other and fairly crowded. After a long drive though it was nice to be very close to the entrance of the park. Not very quiet at night. Fast access to Tioga and the hiking along there.

Hipcamper A
A

Once you get in Yosemite, there are many free visitor shuttles. They’re a great way to get around, take advantage of them!

Hipcamper A
A

Yosemite is kinda a famous place, so it gets the crowds to match. If you’re not into that, avoid traveling there between June-August (spring and fall are equally as rad).

Hipcamper A
A

If you want to see the waterfalls in full force, then spring is the time to go!

Hipcamper A
A

The Mist Trail leading up to Vernal Falls and higher up to Nevada Falls is a must-go for waterfall lovers

Hipcamper A
A

Wawona Campground is a great alternative to the valley (not quite as hectic in the Summer)

Hipcamper A
A

Winter is a seriously epic (and peaceful) time to see Yosemite, cabins are a great option this time of the year!

Hipcamper Clara

Be sure to grab a breakfast sandwich from Degnan's Deli off of Norsthside Dr/Village Dr in the Valley! It's one of the things to which I look most forward upon each return to Yosemite. They also offer gluten free bread.

Hipcamper Clara

If you're wondering how you can pitch in to keep Yosemite beautiful, there's an event every Fall called "Facelift" wherein hikers/climbers of all levels convene, hang out, and pick up tons of trash. Check it out! http://www.yosemiteclimbing.org/

Hipcamper Clay

Quiet hours: 2200 - 0600
Until 0530 July 3rd the line wasn't bad - ranger showed up super early at 0738 to hand out numbers even though sign said 0830 for ranger. Everyone must be there when the ranger hands out numbers, no exceptions on busy mornings.

Hipcamper Michael

Basically, you should bring your own water. You can filter from a creek with poor water quality.

Hipcamper Ivan

Got a group campground. best thing we've done so far, the campground is huge and very calm. Didn't encounter any bears.

Hipcamper Phillip

Amazing campground. Right in the middle of huge, towering evergreens. Bathrooms were pretty clean, but they didn't have showers. We drove to Curry Village to shower after hiking around Yosemite.

Hipcamper Ryan and Danielle

This is a great campground for exploring various areas in Yosemite. It's a short drive to Yosemite Valley, but far enough away from all the traffic and crowds, which makes it a great spot for relaxing in the evenings. It also makes a good base camp for exploring areas off of Tioga Road. There is also a general store nearby. We camped here in August and did not encounter any bears.

Hipcamper Ryan and Danielle

Another great campground in Yosemite, the sites are relatively close together. We were lucky enough to snag a spot on a Friday in August (we got there early in the morning). The temperatures are drastically cooler than down in Yosemite Valley!

Hipcamper Sarah

This is a great car campsite to stay at while visiting and exploring the Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Road trails. Loop A is closest to the water and really gorgeous, but all the sites in Loop A are very close together. There are some sites in Loop D that are more spread out and while you can still see your neighbors, you won't necessary hear them. Make sure to explore Lyell Canyon (as far as you want to go), the Cathedral Lakes (super impressive 7-8 mile round trip), and Glen Aulin High Sierra camp (12 miles round trip). We've also stayed here as a great first night campsite after driving in and before heading out on various backpacking trips.

Hipcamper Aja

Perfect for last minute risk takers with no reservation. Large camp, and yet miraculously quiet. Good for groups. Delighted to find both campfires and puppies were allowed. Bring your own wood in, because the land has been picked clean of kindling. We drove a Prius in too! Felt a little yuppie, but hey, there's a lot of Yosemite to explore and not a lot of gas options.

Hipcamper Alicia

Campsites are packed quite close together, so not the best campground for privacy. Mosquitos can be vicious in the summer as well! Nice view of the Merced river though, and close to some nice hikes like Chilnuala Falls.

Hipcamper Emily

Campsites are a little close together, only Loop A is open during the off season. Chatted with the rangers last weekend, and they're planning on opening Loops B & C this upcoming weekend (April 9th). Must arrive by EARLY Friday morning to get a spot for weekend. Call NPS for availability.
We camped at site 30. We enjoyed it. Definitely the most private camp, and since the gate is locked, we were at the end, and there weren't cars driving by constantly. Plenty of room for 2 tents. Only downside is that the site is not flat anywhere. So you need to be OK with sleeping downhill. Wouldn't recommend this spot with a RV/camper, as the parking space is further from the site than others in the loop. Very close to Merced River, the pups loved it!

Hipcamper Backstage

Best camping spot is 308 by the meadow. No Showers. Buy solar shower at nearest store for $18 or bring one.

Hipcamper Sadie

I try to get this site every time we go to Yosemite (at least annually). Such a great spot location-wise. Definitely not a ton of privacy, but it's much quieter than the rest of Yosemite's sites. Mild winters make for great off-season camping

Hipcamper Rachel

Five of us stayed in Upper Pines campground this weekend (November 11-13). Although it is the "off season" it seemed like every spot was full, but it is Yosemite. We were in site number 70. It was on the inside of the loop, which I think gave us a smaller campsite. We had three tents and were pretty close to other campers. We didn't spend too much time in the campsite, because we were in Yosemite and wanted to explore! It was pretty cold in our site, and that side of the valley. The sun is often hidden behind the cliffs. But the location cannot be beat. You are in the valley with all the adventures right there! If you want a less crowded campsite you might want to camp elsewhere.

Hipcamper Ivan

Woke up at 7am on wed and thinking about the mountains and 15mins later packed and drove 310miles to Yosemite to see this beauty. Didn't know the weather was going to drop 26-29degrees for 2 nights but I survived the cold and the hike. You just have to be there to see the valley and the pine trees 🌲. Telling you how gorgeous Yosemite is just won't cut it.

Hipcamper Fariss

This site is really nice. It can get very cold at night due to elevation.

Hipcamper Scott

Even though we decided the day of where to stay and showed up at 6pm in August, there was plenty of spaces to put up a tent. It gets cold at night, but the morning walks and the views around the camp are amazing. You can basically go right out of the site and look over a valley. Great first Yosemite experience.

Hipcamper olivia

Don't come on a three-day weekend! Its already a crowded spot.

Hipcamper Jacqueline

Went in August when there were less people on the trails, and also got a wilderness permit 7 months in advance so we could do some backcountry camping to get away from the crowds. You can also walk up and get a wilderness permit on the spot if there are extras, but they limit people out there and it's better to book in advance.

Lower Catherdral Lake (5mi from Tuolomne Meadows) is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Lyell Canyon Creek (4mi from Tuolomne Meadows) is a great spot for some book reading in a hammock.

Hipcamper Peter

I can testify to Michael's comment. Bring your own water.

Hipcamper Connie

I don't know why the description has the Bike/Hike option drawn through. TM campground definitely does have a backpacker area.

Hipcamper Kevin

Not perfect for solitude, but it's great the day before or after your backpacking trip. It gives you a chance to get ready for the trip out or relax once you are back in the village.

Hipcamper Emily

Cute and homey. The combination of people camping in actual tents and the retro bicycles everyone is renting and the smell of wood smoke make for a surreal scene straight out of that kind, magical woodland world you're nostalgic for but that never really existed, except here in Yosemite Valley: one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The campground was full but we let a random Asian kid share our site with us, because everyone should get to experience this place.

Definitely rent a bike and ride the trails around the campground. And walk over to Awahnee Lodge to check out the awesome decor.

Hipcamper Chris

As of June 2016, the road was paved and in excellent condition, although there is still a sign that says RV's not recommended. I don't enough about RV's to confirm this. I rolled in on the Monday after Memorial day at eleven AM and campers were clearing out. Spots 1 and 2 are the quietest, with the rest of the campsites being pretty close to each other. El Cap is a solid hike out of the area, around 16.8 miles. Camp was filled for the night, so I'd recommend getting in at or before noon. There is a nice river for water that should be purified/boiled. Highly recommended spot

Hipcamper Alex

Pretty empty and quiet here in the winter. Camped during a nice snowstorm in February. Easy to book via walk in when I went. Walking distance to food, supplies, and hiking trails.

Hipcamper Desiree

Definitely away from the crowds of Yosemite Valley, at least an hour away. Once you turn off Tioga Rd and onto the access road, it's about 20 minutes til the campground. The road was once paved but is now partially a dirt road full of pot holes. If you care about your sedan, avoid this campground. RVs don't even try it. Most of the campsites have some shade and are very close to the water. The bear boxes are not all the same size. Most are 18" and some are taller. My mom's ice chest wouldn't fit and we had to convert everything into mine. Come prepared; the store is quite a drive away. This place is gorgeous and my favorite mountain getaway. It is great for small kids since it's mostly shallow water, but there are some swimming holes.

Hipcamper Heidi

Upper Pines is a large campsite with both tents and RVs. The location is incredible as you can see many of the notable landmarks right from your fire pit. My husband and I stayed on plot 202 and it was great. Close enough to restrooms without being blinded all night by the lights, enough flat land tents, and a few great trees for any hammock campers. Loved every minute of being in this campsite.

Hipcamper Ciera

Camped here the first weekend in November and loved it. Campsites are first come first serve so get there in the morning to secure your spot...they were all full by the time we got back that night. Right next to a river. Some campsites are packed a little tight but we managed to snag campsite number 30 which is a little more private. Not right in Yosemite Valley but the drive is beautiful and not a big deal to drive in. I would definitely recommend!

Hipcamper Jason

Really nice campground. Pretty basic. Few bathrooms that start of clean, but end up like campground bathrooms. No hookups. Lot of Europeans in RV's were at this campground when we were here. Very quiet. Saw a few bears. Good biking and hiking nearby. Yosemite is pretty special

Hipcamper Ray

Camped at 208 over thanksgiving week. A bit crowded, as it was one of the only campgrounds open. Curry village is very close, there is a store there in case you forgot anything or need a replacement (or need a bit of whiskey). The park bus system has a pickup/drop off location just outside the campground also. Easy access to trailheads is definitely a plus.

Hipcamper Nathan

Hike half dome or ski to glacier point!

Hipcamper Chris

We were too late to reserve a spot, but we showed up first thing in the morning and had no problem getting an amazing site.

Hipcamper Fariss

One of our favorite finds. Near the back of the 100+ campsites is an excellent place where you can cross the creek and climb giant rocks.

Hipcamper Annalee

lots of people if you go in August - bring ear plugs and try to get a backcountry pass!

Hipcamper Sully

The inner loops (closer to the bathrooms) are not great and loo-goers trample through the sites en route to the bathroom. Try to get on the outer loop - the lowest and highest numbered sites straddle the entrance and are a little quieter.

Hipcamper Scott

Even though this February flooded California, Camp 4 was still providing amazing views. The people I met were awesome and great to share the site with. Good vibes!

Hipcamper Dominique

Hi! I am planning a camping trip during Easter weekend but have no idea where to start! Is there a way of camping at Glacier Point (website says the roads are closed)? We only have 3-4 nights, which top campsites would you recommend for views, accessibility to hikes and overall awesomness?

Hipcamper Annie

Reserve early if you want in!!!

Hipcamper Marcia

Although I greatly prefer camping in the backcountry (backpacking), over New Years the snow level made that impossible and instead camped here. Even with snow and frigid temps, the place was packed. Wish it was a bit more spaced out - but c'mon, YOU ARE IN YOSEMITE. IT'S BEAUTIFUL.

Hipcamper Travis

The Yosemite Valley is stunning but campsites are dense.

Hipcamper Sharon

Avoid the Yosemite traffic by bringing a bike, its easy to get around the valley and to trail heads on the bike trails.

Hipcamper Edith

This is the campground furthest from the valley. However, its closest to the entrance so leaving will be easier and the line to exit shorter.

History of Yosemite National Park

For tens of thousands of years, humans have changed, and have been changed by, this place we now call Yosemite. The Ahwahneechee lived here for generations, followed by the arrival of Europeans in the mid-1800s. The rugged terrain challenged many early travelers, with just a few - only 650 from the mid-1850s to mid-1860s - making the journey to Yosemite Valley by horseback or stagecoach.

By 1907, construction of the Yosemite Valley Railroad from Merced to El Portal eased the journey, thereby, increasing visitation. Today, 3.5 million people enter the park’s gates to explore. We learn from the stories of those who walked Yosemite’s trails before us, allowing appreciation of their lasting footprints that led to conscious preservation.