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19 Things You Must Know About Camping in Yosemite


Are you going camping in Yosemite National Park?


There are a few things that you need to know before you pitch up the tent and start camping.



1. Camping Grounds Within Yosemite

Yosemite has 13 camping grounds, out of which 7 follow a strict reservation system. These camps are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis and usually fill up before afternoon.



2. Location of the Camp Sites

The 13 camp sites within the Yosemite are located at different sites. 4 camp sites are situated in Yosemite Valley, 5 along the Tioga Road above the valley and the remaining along the Highway 120 and 140.


3. Camping Outside Yosemite

In case you are unable to find a camping location inside the park, there are several places outside the park where you can pitch a tent and camp. These locations include some private and friendly lodging sites, along the roads around the national forest and other public grounds.



4. Treat for The Rock Climbers

While camp 1,2 and 3 have been clustered together, and built around each other, camp 4 is a little off track; and provides a wonderful walking experience. For this reason, this camp site is also popular among rock climbers.



5. You Need to Be Fast to Reserve

Camp reservation open on the 15th of every month at 7 in the morning. When the window opens, people can reserve the camps for up to 5 months in advance. The slots for the weekends and holidays fill really fast, sometimes within seconds after 7 AM.


You can either try your luck with the first-come, first-serve basis or book an assured site through website or phone. You can visit https://www.recreation.gov for bookings or call the following numbers for reservation. You are allowed 2 bookings per phone or website visit. However, you can start afresh and make more bookings on the same day. Here are the phone numbers:

(or 877/833-6777 for TDD)
(or 518/885-3639 from outside the US & Canada)



6. Should I Carry Drinking Water?

Drinking water sources have been setup throughout the park, but not around every camping site. Therefore, carry big water containers to minimize the trips that you make to fetch water. Outside the park, water can get scarce and hence we recommend you to carry enough water with you. However, private lodges should be able to fill drinking water needs.



7. Washrooms in Yosemite National Park

Adequate number of rest rooms have been setup in Yosemite National Park. However, these rest rooms aren’t equipped with lights or electricity. Therefore, carry your own flashlight.



8. Allergy Concerns

Yosemite promises a close to nature experience and dirt forms an inseparable part of the nature. Equip yourself to deal with it. Apart from dirt, smoke from the camp fires is another source of allergens that you should consider. Yosemite is an at elevation range of 4000 to 86000 feet so altitude sickness can kick in at this height.



9. Taking RV to The Camp Site

RV owners can have a hard time finding the right spot for their vehicles. Also, the maximum length of the RVs is limited to 40 feet long and that of trailers to 35 feet. However, most camp sites do not allow RVs larger than 35 foot and trailers more than 24-foot long. Therefore, before making a reservation, make sure that your RV and trailer length are within the permissible limits. RVs have designated parking spots outside the Yosemite too.



10. Quiet Hours for RV

RV owners aren’t allowed to run their engines or their generator sets from 10 PM to 6 AM. Yosemite Camps observes this duration as Quiet Hours, and expects all RV owners to respect this decision. Also, generator can be used from 7 AM to 9 AM, 12 PM to 2 PM and 5 PM to 7 PM only.



11. Back Country Camping

One needs a permit to go backcountry camping in the Yosemite. To keep the place clear and maintain the beauty of the place, authorities limit the number of people who are allowed to go on the trek. 60% of the quota is available for advance booking while the remaining are given on first-come, first-serve basis.



12. Overnight Trips

Overnight trips can be exciting, but at the same time, frightening. Therefore, it is recommended that you join a group led by an experienced agency and then set out on an overnight journey across the park. Another benefit of hiring an agency is that you do not have to worry about the camping permits and reservations as they are taken care of by the agency.



13. Campfire Rules

Through October to April, campfires are allowed at any time of the day. However, from April to September, campfires are only allowed from 5 PM to 10 PM. At 10, the campfires must be extinguished. Also, firewood collections are a complete NO inside the park irrespective of the time of the year.



14. People Per Camp Site

A camp site is designed to accommodate not more than 6 people at a time. However, there is no limit on the number of tents in the camp site as long as they fit in the camp site. Also, a maximum of two motor vehicles is allowed per camp site. Trailers aren’t counted as additional vehicles if they fit inside the designated parking pads. Extra vehicles can be parked at extra parking space created around every camp ground.



15. Pets at Camp Sites

Pets are not allowed at group camp sites and camp 4. Everywhere else, pets are allowed, dogs too. However, they should always be on a leash and never left unattended.



16. Dump Stations Inside the Park

Dump stations are available all year round at the Upper Pines Campground. In summers, the Wawona Campground and Tuolumne Meadows Campground open too.



17. Group Campgrounds

There are special campgrounds made for group travelers. These are available at Wawona Campgrounds throughout the year and at Hadgdon Meadow, Bridalveil Creek and Tuolumne Meadows campgrounds during the summers.



18. How Long Can I Camp?

A person is allowed to camp for not more than 30 nights in a calendar year. This limit is reduced to 14 nights from May 1 to September 14. Out of these 14, only 7 can be in Yosemite Valley or Wawona.



19. Check in and Check out rules.

You are allowed to check in at 12 noon. However, if you have a reservation, you can arrive anytime after noon but before 10 AM in the morning next day. In case, you are unable to reach before 10 AM the next day, your reservations will stand canceled. Check out time is at 12 noon.


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