Camping At Yosemite National Park, California

Spread over more than 1200 square miles, Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the USA. More than four million people visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site every year. The stunning views, majestic beauty of the landscape, and the flora and fauna have all contributed to the status of this park.

The park is accessible throughout the year — though keep in mind that many areas may be inaccessible in the winter due to snow. Here are some things to keep in mind whether you’re camping at Yosemite National Park, or visiting it during the day:

1. Make Reservations

Remember that Yosemite is popular and the campgrounds fill up pretty fast. The wise strategy is to make reservations if you intend to stay at the park. Yosemite has 1,445 campsites spread between 13 campgrounds. About 1000 of these can be booked through reservations.

Most of these sites, especially for summers, end up being booked as much as five months in advance. So if you’re planning a visit, stay on your toes and make reservations as soon as you can! There are first-come-first-served sites as well, and they too end up being quickly occupied. So apart from bringing along that good quality inexpensive ozark trail camping tent, make sure you can beat the clock.

There are several private campgrounds, hotels, and other lodgings along Yosemite National Park. They too fill up pretty quickly during summers.

2. Beat The Crowds

Estimates suggest that the nighttime population of the Yosemite valley can be well over 15,000 during peak months. That is a pretty crowded place! For those who prefer their camping trips to be quieter, it can be worthwhile to visit Yosemite in spring, fall, or even the winter. Remember to avoid weekends.

If your visit is set for the summer, you will be in a race with the crowd. Start as early as you can, especially if you’re on the way to visit a popular site. There will still be people around, but it will be less crowded than peak hours.

Conversely, go slow! Not everyone is a morning person, and day trip visitors are all going to rush early anyway. So take your time, and maybe check out some popular locations at dusk or dawn. The day trip visitors are gone, other campers are busy with their things, and you get a few moments of relative quiet.

3. Take The Trail Less Traveled

There are several trails around the popular routes of Yosemite. While the popular trails will be jam-packed with visitors, others see less foot traffic. The Valley Loop Trail, for example, has great views of some of the park’s prime locations. Yet it doesn’t quite attract many visitors.

If peace and quiet are at the top of your agenda, get off the beaten path and enjoy these trails that are less traveled.

4. Don’t Miss The Highlights

There is merit in avoiding the crowds and taking the roads less traveled. However, do not take it to be the same as missing out on the most famous and awesome views of Yosemite. Braving some traffic is a small price to pay to behold the magnificent Tunnel View on State Route 41.

The valley may be crowded, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful and awe-inspiring. Those powerful granite cliffs carved by glaciers millions of years ago are imposing and serene in their beauty. The top natural wonders of Yosemite National Park should not be missed!

The most popular spots include:

  • El Capitan
  • Bridalveil Falls
  • Yosemite Falls
  • Halftail Fall
  • Halfdome
  • Merced River
  • Cathedral Peak
  • Taft Point
  • Giant Sequoia Groves

There are several other locations, like the Tenaya Canyon, which are not so popular with visitors, but attractive nonetheless.

5. Backpacking And Leave No Trace

Yosemite is a popular location for backpackers and hikers. Backpackers may choose to spend one night before or after their trip at the backpackers campground. However, there are not many restrictions on where backpackers can camp. Some trailheads may require a camp for the first night, but restrictions are removed after that.

Backpackers thus get more freedom in exploring the national park. However, the responsibility of backpackers is not just limited to getting a permit. Compliance to guidelines for backpackers must be ensured. A big part is “leave no trace.” Backpackers, campers, and even visitors in general should make sure that they don’t leave marks of human intervention in the park.

Hikers and backpackers especially must make sure to pack away their gear (like ropes), waste, and other products from the park and its wilderness.

6. Take The Bus When You Can

There’s no point in adding to the traffic of cars running around Yosemite. The park has a fairly robust transport system with free shuttle buses going around. There is pretty good connectivity between campgrounds so that campers can travel comfortably. Some locations do require payment for tickets, but it’s still fairly cheap and efficient.

You don’t have to worry about traffic and parking and can go about visiting the best locations the park has to offer in a free shuttle.

Bikes are available for rent and there are several trails for bikers. When plausible, you can take a bike for your trips and save plenty of time and hassle. Besides, a good portion of the park is relatively flat and riding a bike won’t be difficult.

(Thanks to Joshua Hodge for this guest post — and check out his blog for more camping destinations and outdoor travel tips!)

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