Nothing beats sleeping under the stars in Yosemite National Park, especially if you’re looking for a little family togetherness. Developed campgrounds scattered throughout the park are a perfect place to introduce your kids to the joys of tent camping, or alternatively to park your RV for a few nights or a week.
In Yosemite Valley, historic Curry Village is a concessionaire-run lodging option with safari tents and wooden cabins, if you’d rather not bring your own camping gear. In the Sierra Nevada high country off Tioga Road, take your pick of tent lodges at Tuolumne Meadows or White Wolf, which also has rustic cabins for rent. At the backcountry High Sierra Camps, clean beds and square meals are available to hikers after a long, satisfying day spent on the trail. Otherwise, all backcountry camping in the park requires a wilderness permit.
Some park campgrounds are available by reservation, while others are first-come, first served, especially during the off-season (fall through spring). During the busiest months in the park (May through September), campgrounds fill up every night – either make campsite reservations up to five months in advance, or show up early in the morning to check for last-minute availability or to secure a first-come, first-served site. For reservations, call (877) 444-6777 or (518) 885-3639, or visit www.recreation.gov. Overnight camping fees range from $5 to $20 per site. Even when the national park campgrounds are full, you may still be able to find developed campsites in nearby national parks and national forest lands around the Yosemite region.
The following are some of our favorite campgrounds in and around Yosemite National Park:
Yosemite National Park Campgrounds
Yosemite National Park offers over a dozen developed campgrounds. In the Yosemite Valley, Upper Pines is open year-round, while Lower Pines and North Pines are typically closed from October or November through March. RVs and trailers are allowed at these valley campgrounds, but not at Camp 4, a favorite of rock climbers, where shared tent sites cost just $5 per person.
During summer, several grassy campgrounds open in the Sierra Nevada high country, all accessible off Tioga Road. Opening times vary from year to year, depending on the weather, but most campgrounds are open from early July through early September. Many are first-come, first-served, although 50 percent of the sites at Tuolumne Meadows are reservable in advance.
Also open during summer, usually from early July until early September, shady Bridalveil Creek is a first-come, first-served campground in the forests off Glacier Point Road. Near the park’s southern entrance, the roadside Wawona Campground is open year-round, as is Hodgdon Meadow, near the park’s northwestern entrance, off Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120).
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Campgrounds
A half-day’s drive south of Yosemite, these two national parks together offer 14 developed campgrounds with over 800 campsites. Overnight fees range from $10 to $20 per site. Some are reservable in advance either by phone or online, while others are first-come, first-served. A few are open year-round.