Camping in Yosemite

Camping in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park has 13 campsites spread throughout, and that still isn't enough. This is one of the most popular places to camp in the United States and no wonder--the sites and scenery don't get much more spectacular. Book early in the summer for the seven campsites that accept reservations, because sites you can reach by car fill up quickly. Those harder-to-reach sites are no given either, because they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The key is to plan as far ahead as possible and pick one of the better campsites, because not all Yosemite camping is equal.

Camp 4

Located in Yosemite Valley, near Yosemite Lodge, this camp has an elevation of 4,000 feet, a reason you will find so many rock climbers congregating here. It certainly helps to be young or in great shape--preferably both--at Camp 4 because this more like an outdoor hostel with parking places. Facilities include flush toilets, picnic tables and running water. Show up early to get yourself one of the spots because this is not one of the campsites that accept reservations.


Bridalveil Creek

Located at Glacier Point Road, 45 minutes south of Yosemite Valley. Another highly elevated campsite, this one sits at 7,200 feet. If you enjoy cooler weather, even during the summer, this is where to go. Another thing that makes Bridalveil Creek hot is access to hiking trails that open out into breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley. It's also a great place to take the kids because of spacious open land, perfect for tossing a Frisbee, or nice piney areas that make exploring relatively safe with parental accompaniment. Facilities include running water, flush toilets, picnic tables and bear boxes.

Tamarack Flat

Tamarack is the spot for those who really like to rough it and enjoy a little privacy while camping. You are located 3 miles away from Tioga Road, and big trees keep your business away from nearby campers. Because of the lack of facilities, this is also one Yosemite campsite where you actually might be able to easily find a site. There is no running water, and the water you get from nearby Tamarack Creek absolutely must be treated before drinking. Facilities include pit toilets, fire pits and picnic tables. Hiking is the natural highlight.

Essential Information

As beautiful as Yosemite is, there are certain things you need to know to be prepared. In the more popular campgrounds, there may be bathrooms and showers, but they can get very crowded and are not the cleanest places in the world. In the rougher campgrounds like Tamarack without running water, you are dependent on nearby streams. During the dry seasons, you might occasionally find they have run dry. The best advice no matter where you stay in Yosemite is to pack more water than you think you'll need.

Backcountry Camping

You must have a permit to camp in the backcountry of Yosemite. Permits are rationed, but you can usually expect to get one since there are so many trails in the park. The exception is certain high-demand areas were permits go fast, such as Half Dome and Cathedral Lakes. You are allowed to camp anywhere in the backcountry of Yosemite provide you are at least one mile away from the road or four miles from a developed area such as Yosemite Valley or Glacier Point.


Article Written By Timothy Sexton

Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.

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