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Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation

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avatar Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 08:12PM
Yes, you can camp in Yosemite in the summer without a reservation. Just don't expect to show up Friday night and find a campsite—everything will be quite full.

The best way to get a site in the campgrounds that don't have reservations is to show up when people are leaving. I've always been able to find a site this way, even on a Saturday. So just be there around 10am look for the people that are packing up. Then snag their site as they leave.

Campgrounds
  • Porcupine Flat: Pretty but stays wet the latest of all the campgrounds. Rear section not suitable for large RVs.
  • White Wolf: Flush toilets and running water but feels more like a Valley campground.
  • Yosemite Creek: Long winding one lane road means isolation and few to no large RVs. Often not full even on weekends.
  • Tamarack Flat: Another long winding road but closer to the Valley than Yosemite Creek. Lower altitude means warming temps.
  • Bridalveil Creek: Only Glacier Point Road it is the only first-come, first-served campground that's not accessed via Tioga Road.
Tuolumne Meadows campground also has sites available (50% of them) first-come, first-served. People line up at the campground office early in the morning to get them.


But I really want to stay in the Valley

You might be able to get a site at the campground reservations office in the Valley. But you will have to be in line very early in the morning and, if you do get a site, it'll probably be for only one night and you will have little to no choice of which site you get.

The other choice, Camp 4, is a walk-in campground located at the Upper Yosemite Falls trailhead. Be in line early to get a site.


What if I am coming up on a Friday night?

If you are coming up the east side (i.e. on highway 395), I suggest dispersed camping east of 395 north of the Mammoth Lakes exit. There are many dirt roads in the area and you'll have no problem finding a place to spend that night. Then you'll be in a good position on Saturday morning to get into Yosemite and find a site for the rest of your trip.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 08:23PM
Note: this is a very rough first draft. Please feel free to suggest improvements.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 08:46PM
I also thought that dispersed camping is also allowed (with a campfire permit) in the Stanislaus National Forest and the Sierra National Forest on the west and south sides of Yosemite National Park.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 08:48PM
Quote
plawrence
I also thought that dispersed camping is also allowed (with a campfire permit) in the Stanislaus National Forest and the Sierra National Forest on the west and south sides of Yosemite National Park.

It is and you don't need the permit if you don't have a fire.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 09:17PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
plawrence
I also thought that dispersed camping is also allowed (with a campfire permit) in the Stanislaus National Forest and the Sierra National Forest on the west and south sides of Yosemite National Park.

It is and you don't need the permit if you don't have a fire.
Though...out of state visitors may need to be reminded that a "fire" includes camp stoves.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 09:35PM
  • It's not abusive if you really DO go backpacking the next day. Make sure you pay your $5 at the campground.
  • Has anyone ever seen a ranger checking for wilderness permits at the backpacking campground?
  • Don't try sleeping in your car. The rangers DO check it sometimes/places. Particularly in the backpackers/trailhead parking lot.
  • What about the campgrounds on the backside, Tioga, Junction, Saddlebag, that walk-in that's halfway down the Saddlebag Lake road, and the ones in Lee Vining canyon.
  • How early is 'early' enough when you're getting in lines? 7am, 5am, 3am? How early is required would depend on day of week, time of year, etc.
  • Last time I was in the Wilderness Permit Office line I was told that you can't 'camp' in line. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I gather that if you're there in line at 3am in a sleeping bag asleep you can get kicked out of line. No sleep, no chairs, no bags, or some such stuff. Anyone know more?
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 21, 2011 06:53AM
Quote
qumqats
  • It's not abusive if you really DO go backpacking the next day. Make sure you pay your $5 at the campground.
  • Has anyone ever seen a ranger checking for wilderness permits at the backpacking campground?
  • Don't try sleeping in your car. The rangers DO check it sometimes/places. Particularly in the backpackers/trailhead parking lot.
  • What about the campgrounds on the backside, Tioga, Junction, Saddlebag, that walk-in that's halfway down the Saddlebag Lake road, and the ones in Lee Vining canyon.
  • How early is 'early' enough when you're getting in lines? 7am, 5am, 3am? How early is required would depend on day of week, time of year, etc.
  • Last time I was in the Wilderness Permit Office line I was told that you can't 'camp' in line. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I gather that if you're there in line at 3am in a sleeping bag asleep you can get kicked out of line. No sleep, no chairs, no bags, or some such stuff. Anyone know more?

It is against the rules to sleep in line at the Wilderness office but usually the guilty are up and awake before the ranger arrives so not much happens. There were two sleeping on the deck in bags at TM Wilderness office when I showed up early last August. They had their bags all rolled up by the time the ranger showed up so nothing was said. The ranger is not going to go out of his way to get there early just to catch folks breaking the rules. It frosted me a bit because it was two more people I had to wait behind that might not have been there otherwise. There's no problem arriving an hour early or so and standing around or sitting until the ranger arrives. I always have an advance reservation and normally schedule a day's worth of day hiking the day before (to acclimate) and pick up my reserved permit when there's not much of a line.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 21, 2011 01:52PM
Quote
tomdisco
It is against the rules to sleep in line at the Wilderness office but usually the guilty are up and awake before the ranger arrives so not much happens. There were two sleeping on the deck in bags at TM Wilderness office when I showed up early last August. They had their bags all rolled up by the time the ranger showed up so nothing was said. The ranger is not going to go out of his way to get there early just to catch folks breaking the rules. It frosted me a bit because it was two more people I had to wait behind that might not have been there otherwise.

While I don't expect the park ranger that mans the Wilderness office to arrive early to catch the people breaking the rules, it wouldn't be too much to ask for at least one of the law enforcement rangers (the park cops) that work the grave shift that as part of the their nightly rounds, they go by the wilderness office at night and cite those who are violating the rules.
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 21, 2011 06:59AM
Quote
qumqats
  • It's not abusive if you really DO go backpacking the next day. Make sure you pay your $5 at the campground.
  • Has anyone ever seen a ranger checking for wilderness permits at the backpacking campground?

Rangers have checked permits every time I've been in backpacker campgrounds. White Wolf the guy came around at midnight and woke up a guy... Campground host came through at Tuolumne.

Quote

  • Don't try sleeping in your car. The rangers DO check it sometimes/places. Particularly in the backpackers/trailhead parking lot.

They also run flashlights around the insides of cars in Curry and the trailhead parking for Happy Isles around midnight.

Quote

  • What about the campgrounds on the backside, Tioga, Junction, Saddlebag, that walk-in that's halfway down the Saddlebag Lake road, and the ones in Lee Vining canyon.
  • How early is 'early' enough when you're getting in lines? 7am, 5am, 3am? How early is required would depend on day of week, time of year, etc.
  • Last time I was in the Wilderness Permit Office line I was told that you can't 'camp' in line. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I gather that if you're there in line at 3am in a sleeping bag asleep you can get kicked out of line. No sleep, no chairs, no bags, or some such stuff. Anyone know more?

People bring pads and chairs and whatnot. There's no point to this really anymore, they don't give out permits til 11 am. You can go in at 10 and ask about unclaimed permits before then.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2011 12:24PM by eeek.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 25, 2011 05:39PM
Quote
plawrence
I also thought that dispersed camping is also allowed (with a campfire permit) in the Stanislaus National Forest and the Sierra National Forest on the west and south sides of Yosemite National Park.

Sequoia National Forest updated their self-issued permit. It still says 2010 on the PDF file, but the actual document has been updated for expiration at the end of 2011.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/passespermits/campfire_permit/campfire-index.html
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 08:56PM
Sometimes there just isn't any space available in the valley. If its a super busy weekend and all sites in the campgrounds are taken, including Housekeeping, you can always get a wilderness permit to anywhere available and stay at least a night in Backpackers camp - located within Upper Pines. Its actually a pretty nice campground and beats sleeping in your car.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 08:58PM
I have to say getting a wilderness permit just to use the backpacker site is quite abusive.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 09:06PM
Big time. If you're gonna abuse the system then just sleep in your car and don't take away from others opportunities.
(sleeping in your car is illegal too ... but I've heard that one proposed too many times too)

Have a nice day
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 19, 2011 09:16PM
"quite abusive" and "big time" abusive seem harsh. Oh well, kinda thought I'd get these types of spankings .. White flag
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 20, 2011 10:43AM
How come it is legal to sleep in camper vans, rv, trailer, but not a car? What is the logic?
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 20, 2011 10:58AM
Quote
Marksm
How come it is legal to sleep in camper vans, rv, trailer, but not a car? What is the logic?



The last that I knew, these are the rules:
1. If you have a campsite reservation and are in the campsite, you can sleep in, or out of, anything that you like (including your car).
2. If you just park alongside the roadway, in a parking lot, or anywhere else in the park that you can find, you can not sleep there under any circumstances no matter what type of vehicle you are in (or out of).

P.S. The question should be: "Why is it ...."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2011 10:59AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 20, 2011 11:02AM
Yes, those are the rules. Sans Camp 4 where you cannot sleep in your vehicular unit under any circumstances.
(ok, I can think of some circumstances where they'd give you a pass... but you won't run into those)



Picasa Pictures
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 20, 2011 12:56PM
Quote
szalkowski
.
2. If you just park alongside the roadway, in a parking lot, or anywhere else in the park that you can find, you can not sleep there under any circumstances no matter what type of vehicle you are in (or out of).

P.S. The question should be: "Why is it ...."

The answer to that is pretty simple. If you could, there would be almost zero day-use parking spots available anywhere in the Yosemite Valley (including all the roadside pull-outs), and probably very few available anywhere else because a lot of people would use these spots as a de facto all-day "campsite" for their vehicle.

Also, sadly, some people tend to litter where they camp, so the littering problem in Yosemite would grow exponentially worse, plus more people would be relieving themselves in and around these parking spots if they were allowed to sleep in their vehicles parked in the roadside pullouts and day-use parking lots.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 20, 2011 02:43PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
szalkowski
.
2. If you just park alongside the roadway, in a parking lot, or anywhere else in the park that you can find, you can not sleep there under any circumstances no matter what type of vehicle you are in (or out of).

P.S. The question should be: "Why is it ...."

The answer to that is pretty simple. If you could, there would be almost zero day-use parking spots available anywhere in the Yosemite Valley (including all the roadside pull-outs), and probably very few available anywhere else because a lot of people would use these spots as a de facto all-day "campsite" for their vehicle.

Also, sadly, some people tend to litter where they camp, so the littering problem in Yosemite would grow exponentially worse, plus more people would be relieving themselves in and around these parking spots if they were allowed to sleep in their vehicles parked in the roadside pullouts and day-use parking lots.



The P.S. was directed to the language in which the original question was posed.

The last that I knew, the phrase "how come" is nowhere near being an acceptable English replacement for the word "why."

We have been seeing enough Twitter-like or Facebook-like comments being posted on the forum lately without further descending into the abuse of the language that seems to be prevalent on those sites.
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 20, 2011 08:51PM
For Camp 4, can anyone with experience give insight for July? How early should I be there? Is it likely to be full?
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 22, 2011 11:16AM
Any pointers?
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 20, 2011 10:39PM
Quote
eeek
Yes, you can camp in Yosemite in the summer without a reservation. Just don't expect to show up Friday night and find a campsite—everything will be quite full.

The best way to get a site in the campgrounds that don't have reservations is to show up when people are leaving. I've always been able to find a site this way, even on a Saturday. So just be there around 10am look for the people that are packing up. Then snag their site as they leave.

Campgrounds
  • Porcupine Flat: Pretty but stays wet the latest of all the campgrounds. Rear section not suitable for large RVs.
  • White Wolf: Flush toilets and running water but feels more like a Valley campground.
  • Yosemite Creek: Long winding one lane road means isolation and few to no large RVs. Often not full even on weekends.
  • Tamarack Flat: Another long winding road but closer to the Valley than Yosemite Creek. Lower altitude means warming temps.
  • Bridalveil Creek: Only Glacier Point Road it is the only first-come, first-served campground that's not accessed via Tioga Road.
Tuolumne Meadows campground also has sites available (50% of them) first-come, first-served. People line up at the campground office early in the morning to get them.

This has worked very well for us at both Bridalveil Creek campground as well as Tuolomne Meadows. Sunday is a great day to show up too as many weekenders leave and being first come first serve, once you have the site, you can stay as long as you want (up to a week in the valley/Wawonna and two weeks in the park in the summer).


Quote
eeek

But I really want to stay in the Valley

You might be able to get a site at the campground reservations office in the Valley. But you will have to be in line very early in the morning and, if you do get a site, it'll probably be for only one night and you will have little to no choice of which site you get.

I don't know if I have it in me to try for the campground reservation office in the valley (I am a planner and a go go go person). I've checked it out before and it's just not my style. However, I've observed multiple people sitting in their camping chairs at 6:00 am waiting to get on the list (they were probably there for a while at that point). They used to go by a "take a number" style, but I don't know if this has changed (first in line, best number). And after you enter your name and campsite specifications (tent, RV, trailer) at the office opening (8:00 I think), you have to come back (at 4:00 I think) and see if you were lucky enough to get a site and usually only for one night. If you aren't lucky, you missed your window of opportunity to try at the other campgrounds, which are likely full at this point. Oh, and if you miss the return time and they call you, you get nothing. I've been by that area and seen the disappointed looks on so many people's faces. My parents have had success with this, but they had a small RV and switching sites every night was not a hassle for them (and it was June and raining off and on). It would be for tent campers. I would also check the reservation website even from the valley if possible. I've found sites a few days before arriving because people wait until the last minute to cancel (there is only a $10 penatly up to 48 hours in advance).

Great info and help for campers! Thanks for shaing eeek!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2011 12:41PM by robinjayp.
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 23, 2011 05:01PM
Thanks for taking your time for the write-up! I am sure it will come in handy for many people, including me.
Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 24, 2011 04:44PM
If you are unable to secure a campsite, where is the closest lodging that is likely to be vacant?
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 24, 2011 06:45PM
For reasonable nightly rates, on the westside, probably Mariposa or Oakhurst, on the eastside, possibly Lee Vining, but more likely June Lake or Mammoth Lakes.

But if you are willing to pay through your nose, you might find a nearby room in El Portal at the Yosemite View Lodge or the Cedar Lodge, or south of the park in Fish Camp at the Tenaya Lodge.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
April 25, 2011 05:06PM
Quote
plawrence
For reasonable nightly rates, on the westside, probably Mariposa or Oakhurst, on the eastside, possibly Lee Vining, but more likely June Lake or Mammoth Lakes.

But if you are willing to pay through your nose, you might find a nearby room in El Portal at the Yosemite View Lodge or the Cedar Lodge, or south of the park in Fish Camp at the Tenaya Lodge.

Lee Vining can be pretty tough; most rooms are booked in advance and those remaining go very fast. In Mariposa, the Miner's Inn usually has rooms available unless they have a bus trip scheduled to stay there.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
June 04, 2011 07:29PM
Now if the snow would just melt...
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
June 04, 2011 08:55PM
Quote
eeek
Yes, you can camp in Yosemite in the summer without a reservation. Just don't expect to show up Friday night and find a campsite—everything will be quite full.

The best way to get a site in the campgrounds that don't have reservations is to show up when people are leaving. I've always been able to find a site this way, even on a Saturday. So just be there around 10am look for the people that are packing up. Then snag their site as they leave.

Campgrounds
  • Porcupine Flat: Pretty but stays wet the latest of all the campgrounds. Rear section not suitable for large RVs.
  • White Wolf: Flush toilets and running water but feels more like a Valley campground.
  • Yosemite Creek: Long winding one lane road means isolation and few to no large RVs. Often not full even on weekends.
  • Tamarack Flat: Another long winding road but closer to the Valley than Yosemite Creek. Lower altitude means warming temps.
  • Bridalveil Creek: Only Glacier Point Road it is the only first-come, first-served campground that's not accessed via Tioga Road.
Tuolumne Meadows campground also has sites available (50% of them) first-come, first-served. People line up at the campground office early in the morning to get them.


But I really want to stay in the Valley

You might be able to get a site at the campground reservations office in the Valley. But you will have to be in line very early in the morning and, if you do get a site, it'll probably be for only one night and you will have little to no choice of which site you get.

The other choice, Camp 4, is a walk-in campground located at the Upper Yosemite Falls trailhead. Be in line early to get a site.


What if I am coming up on a Friday night?

If you are coming up the east side (i.e. on highway 395), I suggest dispersed camping east of 395 north of the Mammoth Lakes exit. There are many dirt roads in the area and you'll have no problem finding a place to spend that night. Then you'll be in a good position on Saturday morning to get into Yosemite and find a site for the rest of your trip.

You might mention that the Yosemite Creek Campground now has the eastern half open as the bridge has been repaired. This added quite a few sites if the snow ever melts.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
June 04, 2011 11:43PM
Quote
mrcondron
You might mention that the Yosemite Creek Campground now has the eastern half open as the bridge has been repaired. This added quite a few sites if the snow ever melts.

That's true. I stayed there last August.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/04/2011 11:43PM by eeek.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
February 08, 2014 12:34PM
Quote
mrcondron
You might mention that the Yosemite Creek Campground now has the eastern half open as the bridge has been repaired. This added quite a few sites if the snow ever melts.

I wonder if snow will be a problem this year...
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
February 09, 2014 09:27AM
Is the original posting info still accurate? Would love trying to grab a walk-in campsite along Tioga road on a Saturday morning this summer!
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
February 09, 2014 11:40AM
Quote
Paris92
Is the original posting info still accurate? Would love trying to grab a walk-in campsite along Tioga road on a Saturday morning this summer!

It still looks good.
avatar Re: Summer camping in Yosemite without a reservation
February 09, 2014 12:38PM
OK. Great. Thanks for posting that info (back then.) VERY informative.
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