Best Campsites in Yosemite National Park California

Nestled in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is a sanctuary of natural wonders. From towering granite cliffs to cascading waterfalls and ancient sequoia groves. In this article, we will discuss the seven best Yosemite campsites and the unique attributes of each. 

Camping within this breathtaking park offers an exceptional opportunity to fully experience the wonder of it all. However, the importance of selecting the right campsite cannot be overstated. 

The ideal campsite can make or break your experience. It is a benefit to be closer to iconic landmarks, have access to various activities, and have a blend of comfort and immersion in the wilderness. Thus, understanding the differences between each campsite is key to crafting an unforgettable adventure in Yosemite.

Reserving Yosemite Campsites

Note: Due to the popularity of this park, it is important to ensure you have a Yosemite campground reservation.

1. Upper Pines Campground

A Yosemite campsite at the Upper Pines Campground
A lovely shaded campsite at the Upper Pines Campground. NPS photo

Upper Pines Campground is a centrally located camping destination in the iconic Yosemite Valley. It features around 240 campsites suitable for both tents and RVs up to 35 feet long. While it doesn’t have RV hookups, amenities like flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station for RVs are available. 

The campground is set amid the beauty of the valley, offering convenient access to renowned attractions like Yosemite Falls, Mist Trail, and Half Dome. Reservations are highly recommended due to its popularity, and its prime location makes it a preferred choice for visitors looking to explore the park’s iconic landmarks.

  • Location and Accessibility: Situated in Yosemite Valley, easily accessible via Northside Drive. Centrally located, offering a close location to major park attractions.
  • Number of Campsites: 240 campsites, accommodating tents and RVs.
  • RV Hookups: No RV hookups are available, but RVs up to 35 feet are permitted.
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station for RVs. No hookups, but generators are allowed during specific hours.
  • Reservations: Yes, reservations are highly recommended and can be made beforehand.
  • Nearby Attractions: Close to Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Mist Trail, and other iconic landmarks. Ideal for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts.

2. Lower Pines Campground

Lower Pines campground near some of Yosemite's most popular attractions
Lower Pines is a superb campground near some of Yosemite’s most popular areas of attraction. NPS photo

Lower Pines Campground, situated in Yosemite Valley, offers approximately 60 campsites suitable for tents and RVs up to 40 feet. Located near the scenic Merced River, it grants easy access to iconic attractions like Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point. While there are no RV hookups, amenities include flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station. Reservations are recommended due to their popularity among visitors seeking a serene camping experience near Yosemite’s natural wonders.

  • Location and Accessibility: Situated in Yosemite Valley, close to the Merced River. Accessible via Southside Drive.
  • Number of Campsites: Around 60 campsites are available for tents and RVs (up to 40 feet).
  • RV Hookups: No RV hookups are available.
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station for RVs. No hookups, but generators are allowed during specific hours.
  • Reservations: Yes, reservations are recommended and can be made in advance.
  • Nearby Attractions: Close to key landmarks like Yosemite Falls, Mist Trail, and Glacier Point. Ideal for hikers and nature enthusiasts seeking picturesque surroundings.

3. North Pines Campground:

entrance sign to the North Pines Campground in yosemite np california
The entrance sign to the North Pines Campground. NPS photo

Located in Yosemite Valley, North Pines Campground offers around 81 campsites for tents and RVs. Its central position provides quick access to Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and the Mist Trail. Amenities include flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station. Reservations are recommended due to its popularity.

  • Location and Accessibility: Yosemite Valley, accessible via Northside Drive.
  • Number of Campsites: Approximately 81 campsites for tents and RVs.
  • RV Hookups: No RV hookups are available.
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, and dump station. Generators are allowed during specific hours.
  • Reservations: Yes, reservations are recommended.
  • Nearby Attractions: Yosemite Falls, Mist Trail, Half Dome, and other valley landmarks.

4. Tuolumne Meadows Campground:

beautiful river flows near the Tuolumne Meadows Campground in yosemite
A beautiful river flows near the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. NPS photo

Situated in the high country, Tuolumne Meadows Campground offers approximately 304 campsites. It’s an alpine paradise with access to trails like Lembert Dome and Cathedral Lakes. Amenities include flush toilets and drinking water. Reservations are highly recommended for this seasonal campground.

Note: The Tuolumne Meadows Campground will be closed until 2024 or 2025 due to a major project to rehabilitate the campground. 

  • Location and Accessibility: Tuolumne Meadows area, high country. Accessible via Tioga Road (seasonal).
  • Number of Campsites: About 304 campsites for tents and RVs.
  • RV Hookups: No RV hookups are available.
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, and a camp store nearby.
  • Reservations: Yes, reservations are extremely recommended.
  • Nearby Attractions: Lembert Dome, Cathedral Lakes, and stunning alpine scenery.

5. Wawona Campground:

Campsites along the river at the Wowona Campground have food lockers, fire rings, and picnic tables
Campsites along the river at the Wowona Campground have food lockers, fire rings, and picnic tables. NPS photo

Found near Wawona in the southern part of the park, Wawona Campground features around 93 campsites. It’s close to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and offers a camp store. Flush toilets and drinking water are available, and reservations are recommended.

  • Location and Accessibility: Wawona area, south of Yosemite Valley. Accessible via Wawona Road.
  • Number of Campsites: Around 93 campsites for tents and RVs.
  • RV Hookups: No RV hookups are available.
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, and a camp store nearby.
  • Reservations: Yes, reservations are recommended.
  • Nearby Attractions: Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Wawona Golf Course, Chilnualna Falls.

6. Bridalveil Creek Campground:

A campsite near a rocky outcrop inside Bridalveil Creek Campground at yosemite national park CA
A campsite near a rocky outcrop inside Bridalveil Creek Campground. Recreation.gov photo

Bridalveil Creek Campground has about 110 campsites in the Glacier Point area. It’s close to Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, and Taft Point, providing remarkable panoramic views. This campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis and offers vault toilets and drinking water.

  • Location and Accessibility: Glacier Point area is accessible via Glacier Point Road (seasonal).
  • Number of Campsites: About 110 campsites for tents and RVs.
  • RV Hookups: No RV hookups are available.
  • Amenities: Vault toilets and drinking water.
  • Reservations: No reservations, first-come, first-served.
  • Nearby Attractions: Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, Taft Point, and sweeping views.

7. Hodgdon Meadow Campground:

A secluded campsite inside the Hodgdon Meadow Campground
A secluded campsite inside the Hodgdon Meadow Campground. Recreation.gov photo

Located near the Big Oak Flat entrance, Hodgdon Meadow Campground has approximately 105 campsites for tents and RVs. It’s close to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Amenities include flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station. Reservations are recommended.

  • Location and Accessibility: Big Oak Flat entrance area, accessible via Big Oak Flat Road.
  • Number of Campsites: Approximately 105 campsites for tents and RVs.
  • RV Hookups: No RV hookups are available.
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, and dump station.
  • Reservations: Yes, reservations are recommended.
  • Nearby Attractions: Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, and hiking trails.

Essential Items and Camping Gear to Bring

Shelter and Sleeping:

  • Tent (with stakes and guylines)
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads or air mattresses
  • Pillows

Clothing:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing (layers are key)
  • Rain gear (jacket, pants, poncho)
  • Warm jacket or fleece
  • Hat and gloves
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Sturdy hiking boots or shoes

Cooking and Food:

  • Portable camping stove or grill
  • Fuel for the stove
  • Cooking utensils (pots, pans, spatula, etc.)
  • Eating utensils (fork, knife, spoon)
  • Plates, bowls, and cups
  • Food and snacks (non-perishable items are ideal)
  • Cooler and ice packs (if needed)
  • Trash bags

Hygiene and Personal Items:

  • Biodegradable soap
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toilet paper and trowel
  • Towel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Insect repellent
  • Prescription medications

Safety and Navigation:

  • Map of the park
  • Compass or GPS device
  • First aid kit
  • Multi-tool or knife
  • Flashlights or headlamps with extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Bear-resistant food storage containers (if camping in bear-prone areas)

Miscellaneous:

  • Camping chairs or portable seating
  • Camera and binoculars
  • Campsite reservation confirmation
  • Entertainment (books, games, etc.)
  • Campfire permits (if required)

Final Thoughts

Camping in Yosemite National Park offers a gateway to unparalleled natural beauty and outdoor adventure. With its diverse landscapes and iconic landmarks, Yosemite supplies a canvas for unforgettable experiences. The array of campgrounds, from Upper Pines’ central location to Tuolumne Meadows’ alpine serenity, ensures there’s something for every camper. 

Remember, selecting the best Yosemite campsite for your needs is a key step to making the most of your trip. Whether you’re seeking closeness to waterfalls, high-country vistas, or quiet moments in ancient Sequoia groves, choose the best campsite that suits your needs. 

Brief Summary of Each Campground

  1. Upper Pines Campground: Central location, close to Yosemite Valley’s iconic sights.
  2. Lower Pines Campground: Scenic riverside setting with phenomenal views.
  3. North Pines Campground: Ideal for hikers, near trailheads and attractions.
  4. Tuolumne Meadows Campground: High-country beauty, great for summer escapes.
  5. Wawona Campground: Historic area with access to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
  6. Bridalveil Creek Campground: Serene forested site, excellent for relaxation.
  7. Hodgdon Meadow Campground: Quiet spot near Big Oak Flat entrance, starry nights.

National Parks List, Map, and Complete Guide (All 63 Parks + Downloadable List & Map)

Want a FREE complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as downloadable maps and other great resources? Check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!

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Visit our complete National Parks Guide for FREE Downloadable National Parks List & Map (multiple versions)

FAQ’s

How much does it cost to camp in Yosemite per night?

Campsite fees vary by campground and season, ranging from around $26 to $50 per night.

Where is the best place to camp in Yosemite?

Popular choices include Upper Pines for central access and Tuolumne Meadows for high-country beauty.

What are the best months to camp in Yosemite?

The best months are late spring to early fall (May to September), when most campgrounds are open, and the weather is mild.

Can you sleep in your car at a Yosemite campsite?

Sleeping in your car is generally allowed within the designated campsite area.

Why is it so hard to get a campsite in Yosemite?

High demand, limited sites, and online reservation competition make securing a campsite challenging.

Are two nights in Yosemite enough?

Two nights can offer a glimpse, but more time is recommended to fully explore what the park offers.

Can you camp anywhere in Yosemite?

No, camping is only allowed in designated campsites.

Is there RV camping inside Yosemite National Park?

Yes, there are RV campgrounds within the park.

What is the largest RV allowed in Yosemite?

Most campgrounds accommodate RVs up to 35 feet, while some accept larger units.

Where is the best place to park an RV in Yosemite?

Campgrounds like Upper Pines, Lower Pines, and Wawona are popular choices for RVs.

How much does it cost to park an RV at Yosemite?

RV campground fees range from around $26 to $50 per night.

About Me

My husband and I have three precious daughters and live in the Kansas City, KS area. One of our favorite things to do is travel across the country visiting our extraordinary US National Parks!

Let us know what you think about our content and if you have any questions, suggestions, or have any favorite memories or tips you would like to share. We would love to hear from you!

Happy Travels! Sandy

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