A gem in the US National Parks Service’s crown, Yosemite National Park wins over all who witness its spectacular beauty. Yosemite’s glaciated landscape is home to clear streams, giant sequoia groves, and awe-inspiring mountains. These natural wonders attract sightseers and inspire adventurers from all corners of our planet.
Camping at Yosemite National Park
World-famous Yosemite National Park offers a wide variety of camping types. Some campsites are walk-in, you can reach others can by horse or boat. The park does not provide hook-ups, so those with RVs must be self-contained. A few areas offer cabins and yurts.
Given this park’s majestic setting, it is wildly popular. Campgrounds sell out immediately when they open for reservations. (Even canceled reservations get rebooked within seconds.) If you can’t find a campsite within the park, consider staying outside Yosemite and shuttling in for day trips.
Yosemite National Park contains 13 campgrounds. Some are closed or operating at a limited capacity. Check the NPS site for Yosemite when planning your trip to the park. Each campground is different, with some offering flush toilets and others having vault toilets.
Yosemite's exact number of campsites is hard to pin down (even the NPS website totals show discrepancies). There are roughly 1,470 campsites in the park, but many are closed. There are standard, double, and a few group campsites. Many of these campsites have fire pits and picnic tables. Food storage lockers are present, and their use is essential.
Groceries, gas, and supplies are available at various locations throughout the park. You’ll also find a variety of bars, eateries, and restaurants within the park. Staff is on-site seasonally to support the park’s four million annual visitors.
Yosemite works to accommodate a wide variety of visitors. Those with accessibility requirements will find accessible lodging, parking spaces, and picnic areas. Captioning, listening devices, sign language interpretation are also offered. Service dogs trained to perform specific tasks to assist a person with a disability are allowed to go anywhere in the park visitors go.
Location, geography, and history
A world heritage site, Yosemite National Park encompasses 1,187 mi² (3,027 km²) of California’s most spectacular terrain. It is situated in eastern central California and flanked by the Sierra National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest. It is approximately 160 miles (255 km) east of San Francisco.
Much of Yosemite National Park is in the high country, in the Sierra Nevada Range. Its tallest peaks exceed 10,000 feet (3,050 meters). Deep U-shaped valleys shaped by glaciation leave rock walls, narrow canyons, waterfalls, domes, peaks, and steep river beds. Granite is a dominant feature in the area.
Although inhabited for nearly 3,000 years, it’s believed that people visited the Yosemite Valley as much as 10,000 years ago. The indigenous Ahwahnechee people’s heritage is found all over the park. The first tourists visited the area in the mid-1800s. Yosemite is the first park to have land set aside for public use by the federal government.
Features, wildlife, and vegetation
For many, the Tunnel View is their first glimpse into Yosemite National Park. Once in the park, visitors will find thousands of lakes and ponds, two scenic rivers (Merced and Tuolumne), and many waterfalls. The park contains mountain ranges, meadows, and granite cliffs (including the renowned El Capitan). Yosemite also contains some small glaciers.
Approximately 90 types of mammals live within the park. These include black bears, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. In the park, common birds include the Steller’s jay, American robin, and dark-eyed junco. One turtle, seven lizards, and 13 snake species live in the park. The park also contains native fish species (California roach, Sacramento pikeminnow, hardhead) as well as trout.
The many elevation changes in Yosemite National Park result in various unique ecosystems. The hot and dry Foothill-Woodland Zone leads into a lower-lying forest with many tree species. The Upper Montane Forest has cold temperatures and snow that lasts as late as June. Yosemite also contains a subalpine forest and an alpine zone. The vegetation in these areas is representative of the colder and harsher conditions.
Activities at Yosemite National Park
For climbers and hikers, Yosemite is heavenly. The park offers are over 750 miles of trails to explore and countless climbing challenges. Should they ever grow tired (ha!) of such pursuits, rafting, swimming, boating, fishing, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding await them.
Most of Yosemite is designated wilderness. As such, visitors might choose to bask in the park's expansive valleys, mountain vistas, and desert regions. Some will take in nature on their own. Others will opt for one of the park’s tours. Yet others might choose from one of Yosemite’s walks, presentations, or programs.
One can take in the park by car. A museum, nature center, heritage center, and the Ansel Adams gallery welcome visitors who wish to learn more about the park. Round out the day with an outdoor picnic or meal at one of the park’s dining locations. (If you have energy left, consider sticking around into the evening and stargazing.)
Risks, cautions, and notes
Yosemite is bear country! Take caution in the park by storing food properly, following posted speed limits, and leaving no trace. As with any park, keep a sufficient distance from wildlife (even small animals that seem friendly) and respect that this is their home.
Water represents the greatest threat to your life in the park. Take care near water, being mindful of currents that could whisk you away into a rapid or waterfall. Be cautious on wet rocks that could be slippery.
Take time to prepare for any in-park excursions you have planned. Wear suitable shoes and clothing. Bring extra garments in case of weather changes. Pack extra water and food. Bring a headlamp, compass, map, and first aid items. Also, tell a friend where you’re going, when they can expect you to return.
Yosemite is a wildly popular destination that’s visited by millions. Plan your trip well in advance, arrive before peak hours (to avoid crowds), and be patient when you arrive.
Information about Yosemite National Park
Tioga Road Hwy 120 & Hwy 140 Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra National Forest. From San Francisco, travel east on I-580. Continue along 1-205 E and then merge onto 1-5N. Take exit 461 for CA-120. Follow Highway 120 east into Yosemite National Park.
Range: 2,127 ft – 13,114 ft (648 – 3,997 m)
Up to 5 months in advance of arrival date (available in blocks of one month at a time, on the 15th of each month at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time.)
Park open year-round; campground dates vary
Number of sites
12:00 p.m. (noon)
12:00 p.m. (noon)
Permitted in all campgrounds except Camp 4 and group campsites. Pets must be on a leash and may not be left unattended.
Permitted (please check for fire bans and seasonal restrictions)
Yes (Bridalveil, Hodgdon Meadow, Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona)
Max. site occupants
Vehicles per site
2 (plus trailers if they fit on the parking pad)
Maximum vehicle length
Varies based on campground. A few campsites accommodate vehicles up to 40' in length; many more sites can house vehicles up to 35'.
Features vary based on campground, but some offer:
Number of accessible sites
As Yosemite contains many campgrounds, accessibility accommodations vary based on the campground. Some accessibility features include:
For more detail on accessibility at Yosemite National Park, view Yosemite National Park’s Accessibility Guide.
Facilities vary based on the campground, but some offer:
Conveniences vary based on the campground, but some offer:
On site options vary based on the campground, but some offer:
Support varies based on the campground, but some offer:
Waste options vary based on the campground, but some offer:
Cell coverage varies based on campground
ARE Yosemite National Park campsites SOLD OUT?
We can help! Many campsite reservations are cancelled daily. Just tell us when you’d like to camp at Yosemite National Park, and how long you want to camp for. We’ll text you when a suitable spot opens up!Scan for cancellations
Contact Yosemite National Park
- Booking site: https://www.recreation.gov
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Beautiful location tucked up in the mountains
I was lucky enough to nab 2 nights at separate spots at the same campsite during July 4th weekend! It was hot, but water gushing. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Thank you so much!!! Gotta love this app.
Great location but small sites
Crowded! Camped looking up at Half Dome but man these sites are packed in sardines. Someone next to you and behind you and all around haha. But Yosemite is Yosemite and it's the price gotta pay.
Basic Amenities in a Gorgeous Setting
Lower Pines is in Yosemite Valley and that’s where you want to be. There are flush toilets but the washrooms are pretty basic. However, camping next to Halfdome is worth it! Highly recommend.
Campnab birthday miracle!
Thanks to Campnab we were able to book a site June 11th in north pines at a spot that we found online that someone else had tried to book for 8 years! It had an incredible view of Yosemite falls and was next to the river. I never knew this campground and now it’s our go to. Thanks campnab for making my loves birthday beautiful.
Best campsite ever!!
I’m an outside enthusiastic but not all the campsite fits my city girly needs. This campsite has it all! Clean showers and toilets, potable spring water, parking, wildlife (bears) and park rangers making sure you’re safe 24/7! Close to everything!
Make sure that you don’t hang your hammock on oak trees and without protection for the tree. You are allowed to pick up wood within your campsite. Always display your tag on your tent and make sure you close the bear container. Park rangers walk through the campsite and they will give you a warning (if you’re lucky) or even a fine if you don’t follow the rules.
There are wheel barrels that you can use to carry your stuff.
Showers are pack at breakfast and dinner so plan accordingly (it can take up to 1hr to get into a shower).
Bonus tip: across from the campsite there’s a pool, in spring/summer it’s open to the public!
This is an amazing campsite. However, if you’re expecting it to be 100% quiet, it’s not. Even though you have check in/check out hours, there are people driving here from far away and setting up their tents at nighttime/morning so if you want quiet earplugs are encouraged!
I absolutely love this campsite I’ll come back every year!
Perfect place to camp!
We got the perfect campsite with views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. We were able to walk to Camp Curry to get snacks and ice cream. We rode our bikes to the Mist Trail trail and had a great time with lots of pictures. Highly recommend Yosemite, especially if you can use Campnab l!
under the wall, but next to walking path
good spot, it is without car , and each site is shared a 2 or 3 other groups, so its good if you like to make friends.
We were able to get a reservation at Yosemite
Thanks to CampNab, my family and I got a camping reservation. CampNab notified me of the cancellation, and I was already logged into Recreation.gov and made the reservation. For it to work, you must be diligently watching and ready to log in.
Camp Four was amazing
I’ve spent 12 years in california and haven’t been to yosemite because it was too hard to find a campsite and I’m not great at planning trips 6 months ahead of time. Camp nab saved our trip! We had so much fun at camp four. Within a few hundred yards to Yosemite falls and more adventures in Yosemite valley. Can’t wait to come back
Natural beauty hampered a bit by limited services
The natural beauty of Yosemite National Park can't be overstated, and this year, after record snowfall, the spring runoff has generated magnificent waterfalls. I've been coming here since I was a kid, almost 50 years now, and I've never seen the park so spectacular. I saw fast flowing falls in places that are almost always dry. Incredible.
That being said, we visited a week before memorial day, which I suppose is technically the "off" season. Despite a good crowd, park services were limited at best. Most of the eateries were closed, and those that we found open were busy, tended by obviously stressed out and tired workers.
Shuttle buses were running at 30 minute intervals—with most of them packed to capacity. On a number of occasions, drivers were forced to leave a dozen or so people behind; the bus was just too full. Parking was relatively easy by comparison, and we found ourselves wishing we had ignored guidelines & driven from place to place.
The final blow was an empty ice cream freezer in the village store.
We tend to visit in the off season, so some limitations in service are not unexpected. I do wish, though, that park management could be more flexible. In a time of epic conditions and nice weather, they should be ready to scale up to meet the demand.
Excellent location for camping 🏕️
Stay here if you can!
This campsite fills up fast but thanks to Campnab, we were able to stay a few nights. It makes hiking around the park so much easier as you don't have to plan to drive home in the evening. There were nice tall trees and views of Half Dome. Bears do come around so be mindful of food and scented items and follow all instructions from the rangers.
Upper Pines is surrounded by beauty and is proximal to many truly excellent day hikes (mirror lake photo). A moonlight walk up and down the access road is just gorgeous with the river gurgling by and the huge monoliths contrasted against sky. Our campsite 233 was situated in an area of campground which when viewed from map is right in the middle of a group. But sites are well laid out and we did not feel too close to our neighbors.
A must visit in your lifetime.
There is no place in the world like Yosemite! Please make plans to go if you have never been. But you will probably need Campnab.com to get a site in peak times. We had good luck using it after being frustrated. It has easy access for anyone regardless of ability. The whole base camp area has flat paved trail for easy wheelchair access and free bus service for all. You can bike all over too. Of course there are crazy extreme options for others.
Yosemite is a magnificent park with spectacular views everywhere you look. I was able to capture the red glow on half dome at sunset this time in October. Breathtaking! Yosemite will never disappoint you. I have been going to Yosemite for 60 years and I am still in ah each time I visit.
Camping in the Valley is an amazing experience, there is nothing like it. We usually park our car and bike to the trail heads and other attractions the entire time we are there. THis is definitely a bucket list adventure.
Upper Pines Campground
We got 2 nights at Upper Pines campground through campnab in July 2021. Campnab gave more than 20 notificatiions and we were able to nab one;).
It was a memorable experience. Where river was just next to the campground and we spent both the afternoons there. We were camping with our 10 month old and 5 year old. They had a blast. We also spotted a black bear running through the backside of the campground as ranger was chasing it out. Overall a nice campground with clean toilets and accessible sites in the valley.
One of the top National Parks
Growing up in California, I've gone up to Yosemite a few times and it never ceases to take my breath away. It's gorgeous all year long, but I would suggest trying as hard as possible to stay away from school holidays. The park can get extremely busy and crowds/traffic make the whole experience a little less fun.
I will always grab Upper Pines sites over North and Lower as the bathrooms (specifically the waterfill stations) have consistently functioned. That being said, all 3 campgrounds are standard and a great way to stay in the Valley.
North Pines river side sites are the most scenic though
I keep returning
Yosemite valley and surrounding areas cannot be limited to one trip. Park is so large and beeming with activities round the year. I commend park's NPS staff is doing much more than their best to run the day to day. Very informative, looking out and service oriented employees. I have been there about 8 times so far, and many more to go
Nabbed a spot!
Easy to use and we were able to get a campsite in Yosemite during peak season. Will definitely use again!
Amazing Location but Crowded
This campground has an amazing valley location and some views of half dome. Don't come here expecting privacy or peace - but who is sitting in their campsite all day. Sites are close together but I was too tired after days of exploring to notice.
I love the service from Campnab. I was able to get 5 nights in a coveted camp site in Yosemite Valley after the reservations sold out in 3 mins. Absolutely love their services.
So many options
Campnab not only helped us snag a last minute campsite at Yosemite but there were at least 4 that we were notified about once we already had one in the meadows. Several of them in the valley!! Can’t recommend this site enough. It’s always worked well for me
Great alternative to the Valley
We’ve given up on Yosemite Valley stays: too hard to get a reservation, too many people in too many small sites, noisy, smokey, hot in the summer. Instead, try Wawona. No it’s not the Valley, but it’s a mere 45 minute drive. River sites are wonderful, it’s not super crowded and most sites are nicely spaced. Good hiking to Chilnualna Falls and the Mariposa Grove. Don’t miss the Wawona Hotel for a cocktail and classic piano tunes.
I got the campground I wanted in Yosemite Valley with the help of Campnab.
It is almost impossible to get a Yosemite Valley camp site without the help from Campnab.
just the best
Not sure how to right a review for the center of the climbing universe. If you can avoid visiting the Valley in the summer when the heat and crowds are at the worst, do. If the summer is your only option go to Tuolumne. It's spectacular and in it's own way more beautiful than the Valley. The Valley calms way down in October and November when the temps get a little more sendy.
A nice campground with potable water and soft ground. No location bonus like Upper or North Pines, but that is why you have a car or bikes.
Close to climbing, quiet
THE place to camp if you want to climb Washington Column, since it is closer than the regular trailhead parking. This campground tents to be the quietest of the three.
location location location
About a half mile from the trailhead for Nevada Falls and Half Dome, this campground is is a great spot to make your alpine start a little easier. It can get smoky when everyone has a campfire, but otherwise the ground is soft and bathrooms are clean.
Campnab is the only way to get a spot at popular parks, especially at peak times of year. It's my secret weapon for good times at my favorite spots.
Favorite Place in The World
I now understand why it is so hard to get reservations to this place. This truly is a must see park. I come from South Africa - and this park is now my favorite place in the world. So do with that information what you will.
We decided about 1 month out that we wanted to take a trip to Yosemite and shoot out engagement session. As you know, Yosemite fills up fast! Someone told me about Campnab and I signed up right away. I kept getting the texts and missing the available spots because I wasn’t getting to them fast enough. About 2 weeks in I finally snagged on in our desired location. Campnab saved our butts.
Campnab Comes Thru!
I needed a one-night campsite to bridge a cabin stay and a backcountry permit in the insanely popular Yosemite National Park - during the week of July 4th no less! Campnab came through and it notified me of a cancellation and I was able to snag a spot in the Upper Pines Campground.
The app is super easy to use and the Campnab team is very friendly and helpful to work with if you have any questions. If you need a campsite and everything is booked up, this is the solution you're looking for!
Go To for Yosemite Valley
We love this campground. It’s about what you’d expect from a national park campground. Not a lot of privacy, but a beautiful location with easy access to all of the main attractions in the park. This is the easiest campground to get reservations at because it has the most sites. Avoid the sites along the trail as people often walk through your campsite to get to the bathrooms, etc.
Last minute camping possible...at Yosemite!!
We love Yosemite...but we missed the day when the sites were released! Setting up my Campnab alert made it possible for us to nab 2 nights at our beloved Lower Pines Campground! Thank you!
A spot in the Valley!
OK--so if you can get a camp site in the Valley, it makes exploring this part of Yosemite so much easier. And if you miss getting a reservation, you should absolutely make use of CampNab!
I didn't know this before visiting, but Lower Pines, North Pines and Upper Pines are all very close to one another--you can pretty much walk between them. So they are all outstanding spots. But, we really lucked out when we snagged site #089 in Lower Pines. It was slightly removed from the crowds and we had access to the Stoneman Meadow boardwalk right from our site. It was a great location!
I also highly recommend renting bikes in the Valley. It is a fun way to explore the breathtaking scenery! And our kids were old enough to take a map and set out on their own--fun for everyone.
Yosemite’s best campground
Upper Pines is the most enjoyable campground in Yosemite Valley. Close to trails, trams, dining and rental conveniences. My 1st trip to Yosemite was in 1967 - the trials of getting a campsite sure has changes thru the years. Due to my discovery of CampNab, I was able to “nab” a great spot 2 weeks before my scheduled trip this past July!
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