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Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date

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Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 14, 2017 08:53PM
So I saw an update on the Yosemite facebook page tonight that they are changing the projected opening date for the Tuolumne Meadows campground from July 15 to August 1st. I have a wilderness permit for July 20 starting from the Cathedral Lakes TH. The update says they aren't accepting reservations until Aug 1st, but I don't need a res with my permit and it's most likely too late to get a new permit for August. If we can't camp there the night before, does that still mean we can't leave from the trailhead (assuming Tioga Road is open)?
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 14, 2017 09:05PM
You can still leave from the TH, but you'll need to find somewhere else to stay the night before. Reservations open in a few hours at recreation.gov for the other campgrounds along Tioga Road, why not reserve site at one of them for the night before?
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 14, 2017 09:06PM
If you have a wilderness permit and the road is open, you can use the trailhead.

We have often driven up, picked up our permit (what you have is a reservation, so you still need to go to a permit office and GET the real permit), and then continued driving to the trailhead and hiked in.

The issue/problem will be where you will stay before the date you enter the wilderness. Plan for some options. I believe the backpackers' campground is technically closed if the main campground is closed. Its tucked inside the main campground.
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 15, 2017 02:08PM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
I believe the backpackers' campground is technically closed if the main campground is closed. Its tucked inside the main campground.
Last season, even though officially closed, thru-hikers (PCT/JMT) - those holding valid thru-permits and no car - were allowed one overnight TM BP before the main campground opened. Rangers came around and checked everybody...but as Yosemite is enlightened, (if good attitude and correct gear), allowances were made on an individual basis.
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 15, 2017 02:42PM
That's good news, or at least hopeful news! I do plan to bring the correct gear (bear can) and a great attitude, so I should be set, right? I'm just crossing my fingers that the road is open. I also made backup plans for a trip around Thousand Island Lakes, but again, roads may be an issue...? I do wonder if the shuttle and/or Yarts will be operating if the campground is closed. We plan to park in the Valley and shuttle to Tuolumne to avoid having to get back to the car at the end of the hike.
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 15, 2017 04:32PM
Quote
waninggibbous
I do wonder if the shuttle and/or Yarts will be operating if the campground is closed.
Not sure about the hiker bus...
YARTS route from Mammoth Lakes > Yosemite Valley (and return) runs weekends only in June...daily in July and August...weekends only in Sept.
Last year the main campground opened ~June 15th...TM store a week earlier...bus was running early June. (BTW, I work at the store.) YARTS telephone call says it intends to follow this same schedule, (independent of when the campground and store opens or closed), just as soon as Tioga Pass re-opens.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/2017 10:09AM by markskor.
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 17, 2017 10:22AM
OK, let's hope the same holds true this year. I'll be sure to stop in the store to say hi! What a great job you have!
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 15, 2017 09:01AM
Thank you. That is helpful. Looks like there are many established campsites along Tioga Road, but I suspect they will fill up quickly, especially with Tuolumne Meadows camp being closed. I see that dispersed camping is allowed in Inyo in some areas, so I will research that to see if anything is close enough to the trailhead if we can't get a campground site. All of this hinging on the opening of Tioga Road! The good news is, if this all works out, seeing a bit of snow in July will be a welcome sight to us coming from the mid-summer heat of the Sonoran desert!
avatar Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 15, 2017 01:33PM
Dispersed camping isn't allowed in Lee Vining Canyon, you'll need to be a bit farther along. Inyo NF Page on DIspersed Camping. You'll also need a California Campfire Permit if you want to use a stove while dispersed camping, you can get this permit online at this link.
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 15, 2017 02:43PM
Thanks, I will check that out. This is all going to make car logistics interesting, especially if the shuttle isn't running...
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 17, 2017 09:52AM
I find I can almost always camp at the Yosemite Creek Campground on Highway 120 west of Tuolumne Meadows. It's not very attractive, so the use is a little lighter. Also there are some large campgrounds down near 395 on 120 that frequently work for me.
Of course this assumes you are driving. Don't worry too much.
I did have trouble with snow banks on steep slopes near Sonora Pass in late July of last year. Could have just been older woman with stiff knees stuff.
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 17, 2017 10:20AM
Thanks! Yes, we are driving, but had hoped to leave the car in the Valley and take the bus or yarts to Tuolumne Meadows. I wonder if either of those would drop us off at Yosemite Creek? How far is that from the Cathedral Lakes TH? I'm not too worried about the snow as it would be a welcome change for me coming from the heat of PHX. I do wonder about shoes though. My current hikers are not waterproof and I really want to avoid buying another pair since I wouldn't use them very often in my neck of the woods. I saw where someone used plastic newspaper bags over their socks and then shoes on over that. The shoes would obviously get wet, but socks and feet stay dry.
avatar Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 17, 2017 09:16PM
Quote
waninggibbous
Thanks! Yes, we are driving, but had hoped to leave the car in the Valley and take the bus or yarts to Tuolumne Meadows. I wonder if either of those would drop us off at Yosemite Creek? How far is that from the Cathedral Lakes TH? I'm not too worried about the snow as it would be a welcome change for me coming from the heat of PHX. I do wonder about shoes though. My current hikers are not waterproof and I really want to avoid buying another pair since I wouldn't use them very often in my neck of the woods. I saw where someone used plastic newspaper bags over their socks and then shoes on over that. The shoes would obviously get wet, but socks and feet stay dry.

No, none of the buses (YARTS or Aramark's hiker bus) goes near the Yosemite Creek Campground which is located a few miles down a spur road (Old Tioga Road). One could hike down to the Yosemite Creek Campground from the Yosemite Creek Trailhead along Tioga Road but they'll need to ford Yosemite Creek (no bridge).

The entrance of the Porcupine Flat Campground (also a first-come, first served campground) is along Tioga Road (and closer to Tuolumne Meadows than the Yosemite Creek Campground).



Leave No Trace
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
July 05, 2017 09:54PM
What are the chances they open TM Campground prior to August 1? Has anybody heard anything recently?
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 19, 2017 11:19AM
There is a backpacker campground in Yosemite Valley that can be used the day before your trip if you have a wilderness permit. Check the bus schedule. You make be able to park the car in the Valley, camp at the backpackers camp, and ride the bus up to start your hike. The rangers will tell you where the campground is when you pick up your permit. Bring earplugs and camp toward the back if you use it, it's quiter and less crowded that way.
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
March 20, 2017 11:23AM
That sounds like a good option as well. Crossing my fingers for Tioga Road to be open! If not I have a backup reservation for a loop hike around 1000 Island Lake/Ediza Lake. That looks amazing too, so I'm happy either way!
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
July 22, 2017 07:43PM
The story I got from the rangers in the Tuolumne Wilderness permit office last week when I asked why backpackers were not allowed to use the campground (for backpackers) at Tuolumne Meadows this year was very interesting. They claim that last year some of the people who used it pooped in the campground on the ground and did not bury it or use the portable toilets near 120 that are about 1/4 mile away from the campground (which is what I did when I was there last year). I don't know if they are enforcing the closure, but I didn't see anyone in the campground when I went by at 10:30 am in the morning. I'd be shocked if anything opens in Tuolumne Meadows before August 1, since when I left Tuolumne Meadows on July 17, there were still no visible signs of activity except for some work on the roof of the campground reservation office. Amarak has been very slow to open campgrounds since they took over as the park concessionaire last year.

You can walk down the old road (not the foot trail) on either side of Yosemite Creek from 120 to get to the campground, even if it is closed. There is a very sturdy wooden bridge over the creek there that is part of the old road. Keep in mind that it is illegal to camp here unless the campground is open, since it is NOT for backpackers and it is NOT four trail miles from a major road (120). So if you are caught there illegally by a ranger, you will be fined.

Your best chance of camping legally near Tuolumne Meadows is to go outside the park over Tioga Pass and grab a spot at one of the campgrounds on the road to Saddlebag Lake. I've never seen them all fill up, and at least one campground is walk-in only (but you literally have to park your car in the parking lot and walk in a full quarter mile).
Re: Tuolumne Meadows Campground Opening Date
July 23, 2017 09:05AM
Note that Aramark does not run the campgrounds...it is the National Park Service
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