(Aron Bosworth, via Outdoor Project)

What You Need to Know About Camping in Yosemite (Including When to Book)

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Established in 1864, Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular and visited parks in the country, and for good reason. In 2015, just over 4 million visitors explored some portion of Yosemite's 800 miles of trails or stayed in one of the 13 campgrounds within the park. With its iconic scenery and mountains, including Half Dome and El Capitan, there are really no other parks like it.



There's a lot of competition for campsites in the peak summer months, and it's vital to make reservations ahead of time or to arrive early for the first-come, first-served sites. There are a number of backpacking and backcountry options within the park that will allow for a bit of solitude and a deeper experience of all the beauty Yosemite has to offer.


Here's a breakdown of the campgrounds in Yosemite, a few backcountry options, and some alternate camping areas located outside the park.


Crane Flat Campground(Aron Bosworth, via Outdoor Project)


Campgrounds That Accept Reservations

Reservations are required March 15 through November for Yosemite Valley's car campgrounds and summer through fall for Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Wawona, and half of Tuolumne Meadows. Reservations are made available each month on the 15th at 7 a.m. PST in one-month blocks up to five months in advance.


Arrival Date First Day to Make
Reservations
Jan 15 - Feb 14 Sept 15
Feb 15 - Mar 14 Oct 15
Mar 15 - April 14 Nov 15
April 15 - May 14 Dec 15
May 15 - June 14 Jan 15
June 15 - July 14 Feb 15
July 15 - Aug 14 Mar 15
Aug 15 - Sept 14 April 15
Sept 15 - Oct 14 May 15
Oct 15 - Nov 14 June 15
Nov 15 - Dec 14 July 15
Dec 15 - Jan 14 Aug 15

  • Crane Flat Campground: 166 tent/car sites
  • Upper Pines Campground: 238 tent/car sites
  • Lower Pines Campground: 60 tent/car sites
  • North Pines Campground: 81 tent/car sites
  • Wawona Campground: 93 tent/car sites, 1 group site, 2 horse-stall sites
  • Hodgdon Meadow Campground: 105 tent/car sites, 4 group sites
  • Tuolumne Meadows Campground: 304 tent/car sites, 10 tent/walk-in sites, 7 group sites, 4 horse-stall sites, 50% is available for reservation, 50% is first-come, first-served


Bridalveil Creek Campground(Aron Bosworth, via Outdoor Project)


Campgrounds That are First-Come, First-Served


Overlooking Vogelsang High Sierra Camp(Brandon Katcher, via Outdoor Project)


High Sierra Camps

Unique in the Sierra to Yosemite is a group of five outfitted "High Sierra Camps," each spaced approximately 5 to 10 miles apart along a scenic 50-mile loop. The High Sierra Camp loop explores some of the most beautiful terrain in Yosemite's high country and is open to hikers and riders on horseback. The camps offer a catered backcountry experience and come equipped with wall-tent style accommodations, and breakfast and dinner are provided. The High Sierra Camps allow hikers to travel the loop with less weight, leaving tents, food, and cookware behind. Booking any or all of the High Sierra Camps requires advance reservations.



Backcountry Camping

One of the best ways to really experience the heart of Yosemite is to backpack into the wilderness areas and spend a night or two away from the roads and crowds of visitors. About 95% of Yosemite is designated wilderness area, 1,100 square miles. You must obtain a wilderness permit if you want to spend the night in the backcountry. Some are available by reservation and can be booked 24 weeks in advance. Unreserved permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You'll need to obtain your permit for the trailhead where you'll be starting your backpacking trip.

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