Car Camping in Yosemite

Car Camping in Yosemite
Car camping in Yosemite is an option if you want to get a little closer to nature but are not quite ready for the complete backcountry experience. Yosemite National Park has 13 car campgrounds. Some require reservations, while others are available first come, first served. Because Yosemite's campgrounds are often full to capacity during the summer season, plan to make reservations well in advance of your trip.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Food
  • Camp grill (optional)
  • Firewood (optional)
Step 1
Make reservations up to five months in advance if you plan to stay in campgrounds within Yosemite Valley, Hodgdon Meadow, Wawona, Crane Flat or Tuolumne Meadows. Reservations are required for Yosemite Valley campgrounds from March 15 through the month of November. Those staying in Hodgdon Meadow, Wawona, Crane Flat or Tuolumne Meadows campgrounds will need reservations if their camping trip coincides with the summer or fall seasons.
Step 2
Arrive at a no-reservations campground early in the morning to procure a campsite if you arrive without a reservation. Check-in time is 12 p.m. The seven campgrounds that do not require reservations are Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley; Bridalveil Creek, located off the Glacier Point Road; and Tamarack Flat, White Wolf, Yosemite Creek, Porcupine Flat and Tuolumne Meadows, all located off the Tioga Road. Once you have a campsite, you can register for more than one night.
Step 3
Park up to two vehicles on your campsite's parking pad.
Step 4
Set up your tent and sleeping bags. You may set up as many tents as will fit at your site, though only six people are allowed at each campsite.
Step 5
Store any food and odorous materials such as toiletries in the bear-proof lockers provided at each campsite. Do not keep out any food if you are not using it. Securely close and latch the lockers. Dispose of any garbage in the park's bear-proof dumpsters and trash cans.
Step 6
Set up a campfire or camp grill to cook your meals or evening s'mores. From May through September, campfires are only permitted in Yosemite Valley from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Outside of that season and in all other campgrounds, campfires are allowed at any time of day. Once you are done with your fire, douse it with water and make sure that it is completely out.
Step 7
Dispose of any wastewater in designated utility drains.
Step 8
Keep noise to a minimum during campground quiet hours, which last from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Step 9
Check out of your campsite by 12 p.m. Check around the campsite before you leave for missed belongings and dispose of trash.

Tips & Warnings

Make reservation either online at or via phone at 877-444-6777 within the U.S. or Canada or 518-885-3639 outside the U.S. and Canada. Operators are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time from November through February and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time March through October.
Collecting firewood is not allowed in Yosemite Valley. Purchase firewood at a park store instead.
Never leave a campfire unattended.

Article Written By Susan Berg

Based in northern Wisconsin, Susan Berg has more than 10 years of experience as a writer and editor. Her work has been published in both print and online media, including the "Dayton Daily News" and BioZine. Berg earned a Master of Arts in journalism from Indiana University.

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