A camper’s paradise, Yosemite National Park, in eastern California, is one of the most popular destinations in the U.S.
The park has around 748,000 acres dotted with giant sequoias, awesome cliffs, waterfalls, streams, and a wide variety of animal and plant life. Yosemite has some 3-4 million visitors each year.
It is a wilderness haven, where one can do just about any outdoor activity. Hiking enthusiasts will find a variety of trails that will indulge every interest, skill, and level of difficulty. Fishing spots are abundant for angling, and you can explore the many areas on horseback.
Visitors are never disappointed exploring some of the best campgrounds in Yosemite for a truly immersive park experience.
The best Yosemite campgrounds will range in features, some with modern conveniences to others challenging the skilled outdoorsman. Here are some of the best places to camp in Yosemite.
5 Best Campsites in Yosemite
1. Upper Pines Campground
Located at 4,400 feet, Upper Pines Campground is a favorite in Yosemite Valley. It is huge with 238 sites that accommodate tents, trailers up to 24 feet and RVs up to 35 feet. The views are great as you can see landmarks like El Capitan and Half Dome.
It is near Curry Village, which I found convenient since there are many modern conveniences available. The campground is the biggest of three reservation sites in Yosemite Valley. Other features are paved roads, parking spurs, toilets and showers.
Can you drink the water at Yosemite? At this campground, you certainly can. Besides potable water, each campsite has a fire ring, picnic table, and a food storage locker (ideally bring camping food no refrigeration required).
2. Porcupine Mountains State Park-min
This campsite is on a peaceful area of Porcupine Creek. If you would rather some solitude like myself, this is one of the more isolated campgrounds in the valley. Because it is remote, you will have to bring supplies like drinking water.
There are 52 tent sites that can easily fill up. Each campsite comes with a picnic table, fire ring, food locker, and is near a vault toilet. It is a first come, first served basis area. Some bonuses of the site are accessibility to some valley tourist attractions like Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake, and Tuolumne Meadows.
There are of course many miles of trails you can hike to your heart’s content. For camp supplies, the nearest store for buying groceries is about a 14-minute drive. By the way, if your camping style is with a Recreational Vehicle (RV) or trailer, this is not the place.
3. Camp 4
Speaking of RVs, Camp 4 is the only site in the valley where trailers and RVs are not an option. Camp 4 is a popular area for rock climbers. It earned this reputation for the sport during the mid-1900s, as enthusiasts would camp here.
Camp 4 sits on 11-acres of campground found near Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Valley Lodge. Available here are 36-shared walk-in sites, exclusively for tents and the area is extremely popular. I would advise early registration since the demand for campsites is very high.
On some months, camp authorities even use a lottery system to allocate a campsite. Motorists can park in an adjacent area to the campground (sleeping in your vehicle is not allowed).
Is rock climbing your thing? If it is, Camp 4 is the site for you.
4. Tuolumne Meadows Campground
If recreational camping is your style, this is a great campsite. There are 304 tent and RV areas as Tuolumne Meadows Campground is the biggest in the valley. The elevation here is 8,600 feet, where the Tuolumne River parts into the Dana Fork and Lyell Fork.
I find the proximity of modern conveniences great for a relaxing camping vacation. A general store, restaurant, gas station, post office, visitor center and mountaineering school are all very accessible. Tuolumne Meadows Campground is also close to areas like Lyell Canyon, Elizabeth Lake, and other lakes, domes, peaks, and hiking trails.
They say the odds of seeing a black bear here are quite good (if that is a good thing). Every site comes with a picnic table, fire ring and food vault. Probably not the best outdoor shower for camping, there is a bathroom with potable water and functioning toilets. Not bad!
5. Bridalveil Creek Campground
This is the only campsite situated in Glacier Point Road, offering campers impressive views from Glacier Point lookout. Stunning panoramas of the Yosemite Valley, like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and the mind-blowing high country are visible from this vantage point.
There are 110 RV or tent campsites, three horse sites and two group sites. Each campsite comes standard with a fire ring, picnic table, potable water, functioning toilets, and a food vault. Bears are especially sensitive to sniffing food; hence, the lockers are a safety precaution.
Bridalveil Creek Campground is also a great place for explorers who wish to use the site as a jump-off point for day trips and hiking adventures. Several trailheads are nearby, including the Mono Meadow, Pohono, Sentinel Dome to Taft Point Loop and Panorama Trails.
Visit the Yosemite National Park
A national treasure symbolizing the nation’s majestic natural beauty, America’s Yosemite National Park is a destination for millions of visitors each year. I highly recommend an epic adventure, and this one has all the bells and whistles.
Read more: The 5 Best Camping Sites in California