Best Yosemite Campgrounds

Great and mighty Yosemite, called Ahwahnee by the indigenous Miwok people who once inhabited the land, is a titan among national parks and one of the most famous backpacking, rock climbing, and sightseeing destinations for backcountry camping trips in the world. Nestled in the High Sierra, or the Sierra Mountain Range, Yosemite National Park holds more natural landmarks than any other national park in California. World-famous Yosemite Valley, a 7-square mile area in the center of Rhode-Island-sized Yosemite, contains the highest concentration of major landmarks such as Tunnel View, El Capitan, and Half Dome. North of Yosemite Valley, in the High Country of Yosemite National Park, can be found gorgeous areas such as Tuolumne Meadows and the Cathedral Range, which contain Mount Lyell, the highest point in Yosemite National Park. 

There are 7,000 plant species in California and 50% of those are found in the Sierra Nevada; 20% of those are found within Yosemite. The Tuolumne and Merced River systems flow through Yosemite and have created majestic river canyons. At several points, the water systems in Yosemite become breathtaking waterfalls, of which Yosemite Falls and Ribbon Fall are the most well-known. With all of these attractions drawing rock climbers and backpacking enthusiasts year-round, Yosemite has to be well outfitted with campsites, and sure enough, Yosemite camping does not disappoint the campers who journey there. Yosemite repeatedly makes lists of the best hiking trails in California, best hiking vacations, and the best hiking trails in America, so bring your hiking boots on your Yosemite camping trip. 

Yosemite also regularly makes lists of best places to camp in California, so make sure to bring a sturdy camping tent along on your Yosemite camping adventure. We’ve compiled all the information we could find on Yosemite camping and compiled this guide for the best Yosemite campgrounds so future campers can get informed about this world-class national park before departure. 

 

Ribbon Falls in Yosemite National Park.

Ribbon Falls in Yosemite National Park flows off the side of El Capitan in the spring and is the tallest continuous waterfall in North America.

 

Campgrounds located south of Yosemite Valley

 

1. Bridalveil Creek Campground

Located on Glacier Point Road about 45 minutes south of Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Creek Campground is set in a scenic forest and offers amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, food storage lockers, and drinking water, although the running water has been turned off for most of the 2019 calendar year. Normally, every campsite is near a restroom with running water, which means drinking water and flush toilets. The water in Bridalveil Creek can be treated and converted into drinking water just fine in any case. The campsite features an RV park with no hookups and no dump station. In the summertime, dump stations can be found nearby east of the Wawona store and in Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. 

Showers can be found at nearby Curry Village and the Housekeeping Camp. No reservations are available except for the group campsites; the rest of the campsites are walk-in campsites. For groups, recreation.gov is the site where groups of campers can make reservations with the NPS up to 5 months in advance. The campsite is not open year-round, but is usually open from July to early September. Bridalveil Creek Campground is a straightforward campground that suits backpacking campers who are planning on rock climbing or hiking in the high country of Yosemite for the majority of their stay and don’t need many extra features out of their campsite. 

 

Pros:

  • Picnic tables and fire rings
  • Bridalveil Creek for drinking water
  • Running water and flush toilets (normally)
  • RV park
  • Showers nearby

 

Cons:

  • No running water in 2019
  • No hookups nor dump station in RV park campsites
  • Not year-round

 

2. Wawona Campground

Wawona Campground is one mile north of Wawona, a very small town (population 169) about 18 miles east of Mariposa. Featuring serene riverside campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, and a restroom with flush toilets and drinking water, Wawona Campground is partitioned into 3 loop campsites for small groups of campers. Larger group campsites and horse campsites are also available, along with an RV park. Its situation on the South Fork Merced River gives a lovely tranquility to this campsite, and an opportunity to treat the river water for drinking water if campers so desire. 

The A loop of walk-in tent sites is normally open year-round, while the other tent sites are open from April to September. Reservations can be made with the NPS at recreation.gov if future campers wish to be more prepared in their Yosemite camping trip planning. There are no hookups for running water or electricity in the RV park, and a dumpsite is located on Forest Drive east of the Wawona store in summer only. Like Bridalveil Creek, Wawona Campground is great for campers in search of a straightforward no-frills campground and who plan to spend time hiking El Capitan and not hanging around their campsite for a long time during their camping trip in Yosemite. 

 

Pros:

  • Fire rings and picnic tables
  • Restroom with flush toilets and drinking water
  • RV park
  • Year-round tent sites available

 

Cons:

  • No hookups or dumpsite in RV park campsites

 

Campgrounds located north of Yosemite Valley 

 

3. Tuolumne Meadows Campground

One of the largest Yosemite camping sites, Tuolumne Meadows Campground is also one of the most famous, most likely due to the fact that its namesake is the famous Tuolomne Meadows, one of the highest-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada through which the Tuolomne River flows for about 3 miles before continuing on to eventually become drinking water for San Francisco. The Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located about 1.5 hours northeast of Yosemite Valley and its tent sites and RV park are open from July to September. Reservations with NPS are available for half of the tent sites at recreation.gov, while the other half of the tent sites are walk-in campsites. 

Each campsite contains a fire ring and picnic table and is near a bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets. The RV park campsites do not have hookups for running water or electricity, but there is a dumpsite very near just to the west of the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Showers can be found in Yosemite Valley at the Curry Village and the Housekeeping Camp. Tuolumne Meadows Campground’s location near its namesake along Tioga Pass Road, or Highway 120, makes it ideal for campers who are looking for a beautiful location outside the heavily trafficked Yosemite Valley but close enough to get there if desired. 

 

Pros:

  • Proximity to Tuolumne Meadows
  • RV park
  • Ample tent sites
  • Reservations available
  • Fire ring and picnic tables
  • Bathrooms with drinking water and flush toilets

 

Cons:

  • Seasonal availability only
  • No hookups in RV park campsites

 

A girl by a lake in Yosemite.

Yosemite’s Tenaya Lake is easily accessible by Tioga Pass Road, called highway 120 outside the park.

 

4. Hodgdon Meadow Campground

This campsite’s location off the Big Oak Flat Road (yet another name for Highway 120), about 45 minutes northwest of Yosemite Valley and adjacent to the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station to Yosemite, makes Hodgdon Meadow Campground one of the most sought-after campsites in Yosemite National Park. All of its tent sites and the campsites in the RV park are open year-round for campers looking for the right place to enjoy Yosemite in the wintertime. From about mid-April until mid-October, reservations are required online with the NPS at recreation.gov. From mid-October until mid-April, all the campsites are walk-in campsites. 

Picnic tables, fire rings, and a bathroom with drinking water and a flush toilet can be found near all the campsites in Hodgdon Meadow Campground. There are no hookups for running water or electricity in the RV park. A dump station is available in the summertime in the Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. Showers are also available in Yosemite Valley at the Housekeeping Camp and in Curry Village. Hodgdon Meadow Campground is a solid choice for campers who are interested in backpacking, hiking, or rock climbing in the high country of the High Sierra on their Yosemite camping trip.

 

Pros:

  • Open year-round
  • Picnic tables and fire rings available
  • Bathroom with drinking water and a flush toilet
  • Dump station available
  • Showers available in Yosemite Valley

 

Cons:

  • Reservation sometimes required
  • No hookups in RV park campsites
  • Seasonal dump site

 

5. White Wolf Campground

Off the Tioga Road (Highway 120) about one hour north of Yosemite Valley, White Wolf Campground is a seasonal campground open between early July and early September that cannot be reserved with NPS. All the tent sites and RV park campsites are walk-in (or drive-in) campsites. Every campsite has picnic tables, fire rings, and a nearby bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets available for campers’ use. There are no hookups for electricity or running water at the RV park campsites. There are two dumpsites available, one in the summertime only near Tuolumne Meadows Campground and the other one open year-round in Yosemite Valley at the Upper Pines Campground. 

White Wolf Campground is in close proximity to hiking trails that lead to Yosemite Valley and Half Dome for campers who wish to add hiking, backpacking and rock climbing to their Yosemite camping trip. Rock formations offer the opportunity for kid-aged rock climbers to scramble a little at the campsite. Wildlife darts in and out of the surrounding forest, so campers are likely to see animals such as deer and smaller woodland animals. White Wolf Campground is pared-down but it has all the basic amenities campers will need to get the most out of an action-packed, adventure-filled Yosemite camping trip. 

 

Pros:

  • Close to Yosemite Valley
  • No reservation at tent sites or RV park campsites
  • Picnic tables and fire rings available
  • Bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets
  • Two dump sites available
  • Hiking trails

 

Cons:

  • Seasonal campsites only
  • No RV park campsite hookups

 

6. Yosemite Creek Campground

Yosemite Creek Campground is on Tioga Road (Highway 120) about one hour north of Yosemite Valley. Like White Wolf Campground, Yosemite Creek Campground is seasonal, operating from July to early September. Reservations through the NPS are not offered; all the tent sites and RV park campsites are walk-in campsites that operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Each campsite does feature a fire ring, picnic tables, and is near a vault toilet, which is another term for an outhouse, meaning there is no running water at this campground. There is no potable water available at Yosemite Creek Campground, so the creek water must be treated to be consumed as drinking water. 

The RV park campsites do not have any hookups for running water or electricity, but dump sites are available year-round in Yosemite Valley in Upper Pines Campground and in the summertime only near Tuolumne Meadows Campground. The biggest draw to camping at Yosemite Creek Campground is that it is less populated than other Yosemite campgrounds and therefore quieter. Campers who wish to stay at a tent site surrounded by fewer other backpackers and campers will be happily serene on a camping trip to Yosemite Creek Campground. 

 

Pros:

  • Fire rings and picnic tables available
  • Vault toilets available
  • Dump sites available
  • Less populated

 

Cons:

  • Seasonal campsites only
  • No running water
  • No hookups at RV park campsites

 

People on a mountain in Yosemite.

Lembert Dome rises over 800 feet above Tuolumne Meadows and the Tuolomne River 8 miles west of the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite.

 

Campgrounds in Yosemite Valley

 

7. Camp 4 Campground

The imaginatively named Camp 4 Campground is right where all the action is in Yosemite Valley. Camp 4 is open year-round but in the high season between late May and Early September, spots at the various tent sites are given out by the NPS via a lottery at recreation.gov for campers who want to have a chance to camp right in Yosemite Valley when it’s at its most beautiful. For the rest of the year, from mid-September to mid-May, Camp 4 Campground’s tent sites are walk-in campsites and reservations are not available. The location of Camp 4 is so central that it is unlikely campers will get a campsite without showing up earlier in the day. There are no RV park campsites at Camp 4.

Sleeping in vehicles is not allowed at Camp 4 but there is a parking lot nearby. There is a dump station nearby at Upper Pines Campground. Showers are also quite close at Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp. Every campsite is near an available fire pit with a fire ring, a picnic table, and a bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets. For campers who wish to spend up to a week (in peak season) right in the middle of Yosemite Valley hiking the various trails or rock climbing around Half Dome or El Capitan, Camp 4 Campground is an excellent choice.

 

Pros:

  • Central location in Yosemite Valley
  • Dump station nearby
  • Showers nearby
  • Parking lot available
  • Fire rings and picnic tables
  • Bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets

 

Cons:

  • Popular in high season
  • No RV park campsites

 

8. North Pines Campground / Upper Pines Campground / Lower Pines Campground

All three of these campgrounds come together to form what is called The Pines Campground. They are essentially one large campground, but there are some differences. The Upper Pines Campground is open year-round, while the Lower Pines Campground is open from April to October and the North Pines Campground is open from March to October. All three Pines Campgrounds require a reservation with the NPS via recreation.gov, which makes good sense given the staggering number of campers looking to secure a spot at one of these Yosemite Valley campgrounds. The Pines Campgrounds all have walk-in tent sites as well as RV park campsites. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table and is near a bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets.

There are no hookups at the RV park campsites but the dump station is at the entrance to the Upper Pines Campground. Showers are available at Housekeeping Camp and Curry Village. The Pines Campgrounds are all very near to the Mirror Lake Trailhead, one of the nicest moderately-rated year-round hiking trails in Yosemite Valley. Campers who wish to add hiking or perhaps even a bit of rock climbing to their Yosemite camping trip can take the Mirror Lake Trail to get phenomenal up-close views of Half Dome from its base. 

 

Pros:

  • Excellent location in Yosemite Valley
  • Upper Pines open year-round
  • Fire rings and picnic tables available
  • Bathroom with drinking water and flush toilets
  • Proximity to hiking trails
  • Dump station at Upper Pines

 

Cons:

  • Reservation required
  • No hookups in RV park campsites

 

Rental Cabins and Rooms

 

9. Housekeeping Camp

Housekeeping Camp is for campers who want to experience Yosemite National Park in complete comfort and aren’t concerned with roughing it in the backcountry. This campground is right next to the Merced River in the middle of Yosemite Valley, offering unmatched views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. A fire ring with a grill is available for hassle-free cooking and power outlets are offered at each bed. Campers can rent blankets, sheets, and pillows. Each campsite is a three-sided concrete structure with canvas roofs and privacy curtains. Common amenities campers look for are replaced by household alternatives. Hookups are replaced by power outlets, and the picnic tables are larger and round at Housekeeping Camp. 

Campers here even get to sleep in a bunk bed and don’t need to worry about tents or any sort of camping gear. The restroom has drinking water and flush toilets and the shower is on site. Campers at Housekeeping Camp will have to walk a short distance to the bathroom, but compared to the other Yosemite Campgrounds, a camping trip at Housekeeping Camp is a luxurious cakewalk in close proximity to the most famous Yosemite Valley landmarks.

 

Pros:

  • Location in Yosemite Valley near Half Rock and Yosemite Falls
  • Fire ring with grill
  • Picnic tables
  • Bunk Beds
  • Drinking water and flush toilets

 

Cons:

  • Short walk to the restroom
  • Reservation required

 

Lake in the middle of a snow covered forest.

Yosemite National Park has some of the best campgrounds in the U.S.A. and many of them stay open year-round.

 

10. Curry Village

Curry Village is among the nicest campsites anywhere in Yosemite National Park. Positioned just beneath the famous Glacier Point, Curry Village campers can choose how luxurious they want their stay in Yosemite to be. There are canvas tent cabins, wood cabins, and outright hotel rooms. Maybe some camping enthusiasts will insist that staying in Curry Village barely qualifies as camping at all, but there are some campers who enjoy the outdoors without the tents and equipment, more in a glamping style than in rugged backcountry camping trips. That being said, Curry Village does offer a housekeeping service and full linens.

There are picnic tables and also real tables. Bathrooms with drinking water become separate bathrooms in the hotel. The canvas tent cabins are spacious and the bed inside is comfortable, and campers can even rent one with heating for the wintertime. Curry Village is the location for showers offered for lots of other Yosemite campgrounds so there may be a crowd here. If luxury is your style and isolation is not appealing to you, then Curry Village might be the right fit for your Yosemite Valley camping trip. 

 

Pros:

  • Modern amenities
  • Beds
  • Linens
  • Drinking water
  • Location near Glacier Point

 

Cons:

  • Reservation required
  • Possible crowds

 

Final Verdict:

Yosemite National Park holds such natural wonders that it had to be outfitted with tons of different campgrounds. Tent sites and RV park campsites are in high demand in the warm months all over the park, but especially in Yosemite Valley, where world-famous landmarks like Half Dome and Yosemite Falls await the eager eye of campers, hikers, rock climbers, and backpacking enthusiasts from all over the United States and the rest of the world. 

Overall if you plan enough and make a reservation where possible, finding a campsite at one of the Yosemite Campgrounds on this list is well worth it. You’ll come away with camping memories to last a lifetime. In fact, Yosemite has such a draw that campers who visit once are likely to return and may wind up staying at many of the Yosemite campsites in this guide. Perhaps as time goes on, campers who first saw Yosemite from way out in Yosemite Creek Campground will evolve into Camp 4 residents. After a long enough time perhaps they’ll wind up staying in comparative luxury at Curry Village. 

The most important takeaway for campers who have read this guide on the best Yosemite campgrounds is that the campsites in Yosemite are designed for you to rest there and take a rest. Surrounded by as much natural beauty as campers are in Yosemite, the main draw will be the wonderful landmarks that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Hopefully, you’re prepared to start making preparations for a Yosemite camping trip now that you’ve finished this guide to the best Yosemite campgrounds. 

 

Bonus Tip: If you’re eager to get a glimpse of the landmarks on view in Yosemite National Park, check out this cool video!

 

 

Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.