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  • Writer's pictureBasecamp Outdoor Gear Team

Where to camp in and around Yosemite National Park

Updated: Jan 12

Planning a camping trip to Yosemite National Park? First and foremost, decide where you want to go. This park is HUGE and has several entrances that may require too much driving for your objectives! Check out our post about visiting Yosemite to learn more. Then, refer to the below list for our favorite places to camp in and near Yosemite National Park. Remember, you can rent camping gear from us in Las Vegas with one-way return shipping.

granite cliff in half dome shape
Half Dome - Yosemite National Park

Camping within Yosemite National Park boundaries

Yosemite National Park has 13 campgrounds, all of which require reservations in peak season (April-October). Unfortunately, reservations are extremely difficult to get because they book out in minutes! However, you can always search recreation.gov for cancellations closer to your travel dates.

Do not arrive at Yosemite hoping to camp without a camping reservation! Sleeping in your car or RV is not permitted within Yosemite except in individual campsites. According to national park rules and regulations, you can only stay in established campgrounds within the national park boundaries.

All campsites contain food lockers. Here's how to use them.

Showers are only available for a fee in Curry Village. There are no other shower facilities anywhere else in the entire park.


Upper Pines Campground

Upper Pines is one of the few campgrounds in Yosemite National Park that remain open year-round. It's also the biggest campground in the park, and the most central, within walking distance of many services and trailheads in Yosemite Valley. Campsites are spacious, there's good cell phone reception, potable water, and flush toilets.

Our thoughts about this campground: It's a nice campground, but that's besides the point. You want to stay here because it's the most convenient location in the park!

Reservations: Required. Book here


Lower and North Pines Campgrounds

Same description as Upper Pines, and just next to it, Lower and North Pines are only open in peak season (April-October). These campgrounds are basically extensions of Upper Pines. North Pines Campground has a confusing early access reservations lottery system. If you know your travel dates well in advance, it's worth a shot. But if you're uncommitted, don't waste your time trying to get advance reservations. Simply check the reservations website periodically until someone releases their reservation back to the system.

Our thoughts about these campgrounds: Same thoughts as Upper Pines.

Reservations: Required. Book Lower Pines here --- Book North Pines here


Camp 4

Camp 4 is anoother campground in Yosemite that is open year-round. Though centrally-located, this is a cramped and crowded area, mostly made up of young rock climbers. Many stay in this campground for up to 30 days!

Our thoughts about this campground: This is the place to go if you're a rock climber or if you want to socialize. Think of it as a last-resort campground. If you're trying to find peace and quiet, go somewhere else.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Wawona Campground

The only campground near Yosemite's southern entrance, Wawona is a spacious and quiet. There's fair cell phone reception here, potable water, flush toilets, and even a small store for essentials. Open year-round.

Our thoughts about this campground: It's a nice campground, but it's far from everything!

Reservations: Required April-October. Book here


Bridalveil Creek Campground

Bridalveil Creek Campground is just off by itself in the middle of nowhere on Glacier Point Rd. It's situated a bit higher in elevation and only opens when the winter snows clear, around June-September. There is potable water here, and flush toilets, but no cell phone reception.

Our thoughts about this campground: It's a nice campground and a great place to disconnect from the outside world, but it's far from everything!

Reservations: Required. Book here


Hodgdon Meadow and Crane Flat Campgrounds

Hodgdon Meadow and Crane Flat Campgrounds are convenient options in summer, situated halfway between Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley. Hodgdon Meadow Campground is actually open year-round, though I'm not sure why you'd stay here in winter unless you really had no other choice. There is potable water at both campgrounds, and flush toilets, but no cell phone reception. There's a very expensive gas station and small convenience store near Crane Flat.

Our thoughts about these campgrounds: They are nice campgrounds, great to disconnect from the outside world, and feel far away from everything.

Reservations: Required April-October. Book Hodgdon Meadow here --- Book Crane Flat here


White Wolf Campground

Situated a bit higher in elevation, White Wolf Campground only opens when the winter snows clear, around June-September. There are flush toilets here, and potable water, but no cell phone reception.

Our thoughts about this campground: It's a suprisingly popular campground, even though it's far from everything. I recommend staying somewhere else if you can.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Tamarack Flat /Yosemite Creek / Porcupine Flat Campgrounds

These campgrounds, off Tioga Rd, are a bit more secluded and primitive than the other campgrounds mentioned above. They are higher in elevation and only open when the winter snows clear, around June-September. There are only vault toilets here, no cell phone reception, and you have to boil or filter water from the creek.

Our thoughts about these campgrounds: This is backcountry camping at its finest! Though you're by your car, you have to prepare to live off the grid if you stay at these campgrounds.


Tuolumne Meadows Campground

Closed for renovations until 2024 or 2025. A large, spacious, and soon to be upgraded campground, Tuolumne Meadows is the place to stay if you only want to explore Tuolumne. It's far from anything else. Just like Tioga Rd, Tuolumne Meadows Campground only opens once the winter snows melt, typically June-September. This campground has flush toilets, potable water, and cell phone reception. There's a convenience store and post office nearby.

Our thoughts about this campground: It's very nice! Definitely stay here if Tuolumne Meadows is your destination.

Reservations: Required. Book here


valley of green trees closed by sheer cliff on the left, small waterfall on the right
Yosemite Valley - El Capitan (L), Bridalveil Fall (R), Half Dome (Distant)

Campgrounds outside of Yosemite National Park

So many to choose from - and they all fill up every night!


Campgrounds east of Tioga Pass

Tons of National Forest campgrounds, all first-come first-served. Examples: Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake, Junction, Sawmill, Big Bend, Aspen, etc. Poor cell phone reception, pit toilets only, and no water. You basically pay for the space to park your car and the fresh pine trees scent. And the mosquitos.

Our thoughts about these campgrounds: Surprisingly nice campgrounds, surprisingly popular. These are your backup campgrounds if you only plan to spend time in Tuolumne. It's a ridiculous amount of driving if you want to visit Yosemite Valley and then return to your campsite east of Tioga Pass. The problem is that everyone has the same idea, so you'll certainly drive around a bit before finding an open site.

Reservations: First-come first-served


Campgrounds off Rt 120 West

Here you have some National Forest and some private campgrounds to choose from, but don't go as far west as Groveland or you'll end up driving way too much. Thousand Trails is a very nice, yet expensive, private campground with all the amenities your heart desires. No cell phone reception, but there is wifi. It's a great family campground that will keep your kids entertained for days. Sweetwater Campground is run by the National Forest, so it's a bit cheaper and doesn't offer any amenities. Vault toilets, no drinking water, no cell phone reception. This is a good camping location if you plan to explore Hetch Hetchy.

Our thoughts about these campgrounds: Thousand Trails is the place to go if you don't have a campsite in the Valley but absolutely need wifi and showers. It's just far enough to be able to commute to Yosemite Valley and back. I don't recommend staying farther than that. If you can do without amenities, Sweetwater is nice.


Campgrounds west of El Portal (Rt 140)

Avoid campgrounds along this road if at all possible. Your choices are basically Dry Gulch National Forest Campground or Indian Flat RV Park. Dry Gulch is really expensive for a small uneven site without amenities. Indian Flat caters more to RVs rather than tents, but even with RVs, there are nicer places to go.

Our thoughts about this campground: Don't waste your time and money. If you stay anywhere along the 140, get a hotel room.

Reservations: Required.


National Forest campgrounds to the south

Irrelevant. There aren't any campgrounds between the South entrance and Oakhurst that are worth the driving distance. There are, however, tons of options southeast of Oakhurst that are basically a destination in and of themselves. Examples: Campgrounds around Bass Lake, Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake. This is a completely different region outside of the scope of this post.


blue lake blocked by dam surrounded by grey cliffs
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

Dispersed camping near Yosemite

Dispersed camping is a term used to describe free roadside camping. These are unofficial yet legal camping spots with no amenities whatsoever. Practice Leave-No-Trace principles and keep our public lands wild and clean. Don't bother looking for dispersed camping sites near Yosemite National Park. They are simply too far away! You can practice dispersed camping on your way from Las Vegas, before entering Yosemite. Check out our post about the Eastern Sierras for recommendations (coming soon).


Summary of all campgrounds in and around Yosemite National Park

Here's a map of all the campgrounds mentioned above.

If you need more information regarding any of the campgrounds mentioned above please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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