Every nature lover, happy camper, and adventure seeker is going to love Yosemite for sure. It displays some of the most beautiful sights you’re ever going to see, with all its 1,200 square miles of glory.
The Yosemite National Park offers 13 campgrounds; some need a reservation, and others follow a first-come, first-served basis. But what’s the best Yosemite campground that I should push for? Even though all campgrounds have their perks and unique features, here’s five that hold our heart more than the others.
1. White Wolf Campground
This campground is located about an hour north of Yosemite Valley. It has an elevation of 8,000 feet and is open from July through September, on a first-come, first-served basis. White Wolf has 74 campsites suitable for tents, trailers 24 feet or below, and RVs 27 feet or below.
What makes White Wolf Campgrounds one of our favorites is that it is up in the High Sierras and it’s serene. Unlike the buzz in the valley, here you can enjoy some peace and quiet; you can connect with nature.
The campsite is pretty primitive. Each campsite, however, does have picnic tables, a fire ring, food lockers, and flushing toilets. Although there are bathrooms, there are no lights.
There is also potable water, but no shower, so you will need to go to Yosemite Valley for a shower. On the bright side, it is beautiful out here, and you’re also close to even more natural beauty.
A couple of hours of hiking and you are in Lukens Lake. It’s a small lake but very picturesque, and perfect for stargazing. Other things you can do nearby is to hike to Ten Lakes and May Lake.
2. Camp 4
Camp 4 is in Yosemite Valley, but not as busy as the Pines campgrounds. It’s also the closest one to El Capitan. This campground is popular among rock climbers because of all the rocks that they can climb (apparently!). In fact, it’s on the list of National Register of Historic Places because of its impact on the development of rock climbing.
This campground doesn’t need reservations, but operates on a first-come, first served basis. You have to register early to get a site because it fills up very quickly. There will be people already standing in line even before the kiosk opens at 8.30. Aside from the beautiful rocks waiting to be climbed, Camp 4 is close the trails that lead to Half Dome, Mirror Lake, Yosemite Falls, and more.
Camp 4 has 35 walk-in sites or tent camping, each with the standard fire pit, picnic table, and food lockers. It also has access to a bathroom with flushing toilets and potable water. Camp 4 is open all year, but in winter, it operates on self-service. There will be a ranger patrolling throughout the day, but they do not handle registration like normally do.
3. Upper Pines Campground
One of the largest, Upper Pines has 238 campsites in total. This includes tent camping, RVs (no greater than 35 feet) and trailers 24 feet and below. Pine trees tower the campsites, so when you look up at night, you have an amazing silhouette with a beautiful night sky in the background.
What’s great about Upper Pine is that it has access to so many beautiful sights and fun activities. It is conveniently located near major trailheads, including the one for Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and the John Muir Trail. There’s also a shuttle service nearby that can take you to Curry Village, Yosemite Village, Yosemite, Bridal, Nevada and Vernal Falls.
Unfortunately, because it’s awesome, almost everyone flocks here. It’s not for campers who want a little more peace and serenity, especially during summer. November is a good time to visit because there are fewer bugs, fewer people, and it’s cool but not too cold.
Upper Pines are open to the public all year round. To camp in Upper Pines, you will need to make reservations online for up to five months in advance. A campsite costs $26 per night, which, I would say, is cheap considering the beauty you’re about to experience. Each campsite has food lockers, fire rings, picnic tables, and a bathroom with flushing toilets and potable water.
Other attractions that are near to this campground includes the following Glacier Point, Little Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest.
4. Tuolumne Meadows Campground
Northeast of Yosemite Valley lies the largest campground, Tuolumne Meadows. It’s a little over an hour from Yosemite Valley and right by Tioga Road. It’s a great site to be away from the crowd, without being too far away from the main attractions.
The campsites are open seasonally from July to late September. Some campground requires reservations, while the others operate on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 304 sites in total, which includes space for RVs and trailers below 35 feet. However, not all sites can accommodate these sizes, so be sure to do your reading before making a reservation.
The beauty of Tuolumne Meadows is that it’s still close to the beautiful sights. It’s also a great place for fishing, hiking, and backpacking.
5. Hodgdon Meadow Campground
Only 45 minutes away from Yosemite Valley, Hodgdon Meadow Campground. It’s less crowded than the valley, so it’s ideal for those who still want to be near the main attractions.
Hodgdon Meadows is right next to the Big Oak Flat Entrance. There are 105 campsites for tents and RVS below 35 feet and trailers below 27 feet. Each campsite has the standard fire ring, picnic table, food locker, and bathroom with potable water and flushing toilets.
This campground offers a lot of beautiful views of redwood and wildlife. Though it’s nothing extra special, it is peaceful compared to many other campgrounds. Its location is also perfect because it’s not too far from the attractions.
Camping in Yosemite is an excellent way to get in touch with nature. No matter what campground you’re in, you’re still in Yosemite. That in itself is already awesome. I believe all campgrounds have something offer. Anyways, you’ll still be able to access other parts of the park. You just have to be up for an adventure.
When camping in Yosemite, be mindful of the rules and regulations. You should also keep in mind the open seasons, the maximum RV lengths, maps, and nearby amenities. It’s good to have an attitude of spontaneity, but you still have to be a little prepared to enjoy your camp. Call for reservations, know the location, have an open mind while still being careful and take lots of photos!