Travel Answers about Yosemite: Best Camping Sites in Yosemite Valley?

Yosemite National Park: Best camping sites in the Yosemite Valley area?

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Hi, I am looking for a camping site around the valley area. We are going to visit in mid June for 2 nights and are looking for a good spot to camp. Thanks!

A: Do you have a reservation? Most of the campsites in Upper, Lower, and North Pines Campground for summer are “sold out” before May! If you don’t have reservations, you can try to get a campsite in the valley on the day you are there, or there’s “Backpacker’s Camp” (Camp 4) which is “first-come/first-served”.

From the National Park Service website:

“Yosemite National Park has 13 campgrounds, of which up to seven are on a reservation system. From April through September, reservations are essential and even the first-come first-served campgrounds often fill by noon from May through September.

Campground Reservations

Reservations are required from about March 15 through November for Yosemite Valley’s car campgrounds and summer through fall for Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Wawona, and half of Tuolumne Meadows. Campground reservations are available in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month at 7 am Pacific time. Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available, usually within seconds or minutes after 7 am!”

Here is the link to the nps.gov site:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm

If you can’t get camping in the valley, there are campgrounds in the park on the rim (about an hour from the valley) and just outside the park as well.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

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And a Follow Up Question:

Q: Hey Josh! Thanks so much for the super insightful answer. I found out that as you said, most campsites are fully booked. I found availability in the following: 1. Camp Wawona, 2. Silver Lake Campground, 3. Soquel Campground, 4. Crane Flat Campground. Do you know any of these ? Any thoughts? Thanks, Yaniv G. 

A: Check and see if Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite Valley is still available!

Camp Wawona is on the rim near the Wawona Hotel, Yosemite’s Badger Pass, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Glacier Point. Wawona is also close to Oakhurst which is a real town with markets, laundromats, restaurants, etc.

Giant Sequoia Redwood Tree - Mariposa Grove, Yosemite, CA (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Giant Sequoia Redwood Tree – Yosemite, CA (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Soquel Campground and Crane Flat Campground are farther away.

See my other Yosemite post for Hotels in the Valley.

 Half Dome - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, California – Spring 1985 (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from across the valley - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, California – Fall 2011 (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

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01-JUN-13: One World Trade Center aka “Freedom Tower”

One World Trade Center aka “Freedom Tower”
The 104-story skyscraper (standing a symbolic 1776 feet) in Manhattan, New York City, New York, officially opens today!

One World Trade Center (a rendering) - New York City, New York

1 World Trade Center (rendering) – New York City, New York

The Flag of the United States of America

The Flag of the United States of America – “Don’t mess with the U.S.!”

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YOSEMITE 2011 – Part 3 Down in the Valley: Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Roadtrip 2011

This is PART 3 – GET READY FOR MORE OF NATURE’S AWESOME BEAUTY!!!

El Capitan - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

El Capitan – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

To view PART 1 – click this link:

https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/yosemite-2011-part-1-road-trip-to-tuolumne-meadows/

To view PART 2 – click this link:

https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/yosemite-2011-part-2-tuolumne-meadows/

PART 3 – Down in the Valley: Yosemite Valley

At the end of PART 2 we left off at Olmstead Point on Monday morning, heading down into Yosemite Valley, destination: Yosemite Lodge.  More pictures from Olmstead Point:

Granite Dome near Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Granite Dome near Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from Olmstead Point – Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The drive from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley takes about an hour and a half.  There are lots of places to turnout and stop along the way.  We stopped for pictures and used the facilities at a picnic area on our way to Yosemite Lodge.

Picture Point along the Tioga Road - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Picture Point along the Tioga Road – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We arrived at Yosemite Lodge too early in the day and even though we were able to check in, our room wouldn’t be ready for a few hours.  We were given the Lodge WiFi password, which enables you to access park visitor information via your mobile device, nice technological extra for the “internet generation”.  We thought about taking the Valley Tour, where you ride around in an open air bus, but instead we parked the car and hopped the shuttle to our first adventure, just past Curry Village: the hike to the base of Half Dome and what used to be Mirror Lake.

Half Dome from the trail to Mirror Lake - Yosemite, Calfiornia (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from the trail to Mirror Lake – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. Yosemite’s most familiar rock formation, the crest rises more than 4,737 ft above the valley floor. On March 28, 2009, a large rock slide of 1,500,000 cubic feet occurred from Ahwiyah Point. The slide damaged a large area under the dome. No one was injured but hundreds of trees were knocked down and a portion of the Mirror Lake trail was buried. The slide registered an earthquake reading of 2.5 on the Richter scale.

Trail to the base of Half Dome and Mirror Lake - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Trail to the base of Half Dome and Mirror Lake – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Mirror Lake is a small, seasonal lake located on Tenaya Creek between North Dome and Half Dome. It is the last remnant of a large glacial lake that once filled most of Yosemite Valley at the end of the last Ice Age, and is close to disappearing due to sediment accumulation.

Half Dome from Mirror Lake - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from Mirror Lake – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The road from the shuttle stop is only accessible by walking, bicycle or park transport for disabled visitors.  It’s a nice hike, and of course, wherever you go in Yosemite, carry drinking water and prepare for changes in the weather.  We hiked out to the picnic area at Mirror Lake, enjoyed the area for a time and then hike back and caught the shuttle bus to Yosemite Village.  As you can see, it was a beautiful day, and the weather was warm.  It was the Monday of the weekend after Labor Day, so schools were in session and the valley was less crowded than during the Summer season.

Half Dome from across the valley - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 Joshua Weisel)

Half Dome from across the valley – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We visited the Visitor’s Center, the Ansel Adams Gallery and the Village Store.  I grabbed a burger at the grill and we sat outside on the patio with German tourists.  After lunch we hiked over to the base of Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls is the highest measured waterfall in North America.  It is a major attraction in the park, especially in late spring when the water flow is at its peak.  The total 2,425 feet from the top of the upper falls to the base of the lower falls qualifies Yosemite Falls as the sixth highest waterfall in the world.

Lower Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Lower Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

After a short hike back to the Lodge we checked in again and got our room keys (no keycards here).  The Yosemite Lodge is basically bare bones motel accomodations.  After the flood, they took out most of the cabins, and now there are just a number of two-story motel buildings surrounding the Lodge proper and the shops and dining rooms.  It’s definitely NOT the Ahwahnee Hotel, but compared to the tent cabins and communal shower at Tuolumne Lodge, it’s luxury. Actually it’s wonderful to have a warm bed, with a private shower and toilet, after roughing it in the rain and cold.  We put our stuff in the room and then drove over to Sentinel Beach (yes there is a beach) and the less traveled end of the valley for some more sightseeing.

Sentinel Beach - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sentinel Beach – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

When you visit the valley to fully enjoy the park, be sure to get to the less traveled areas.   At Sentinel Beach, we were almost alone, so we made friends with a Raven.

Quote the Raven "Nevermore" Sentinel Beach - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Raven at Sentinel Beach – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

North Dome - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

North Dome – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

North Dome is a granite dome and is the southern summit of Indian Ridge on the northeastern wall of Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sentinel Rock – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Bridalveil Falls - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Bridalveil Falls – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

El Capitan - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

El Capitan – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

El Capitan is a granite monolith located on the north side of Yosemite Valley near its western end. It towers over Yosemite about 3,000 feet from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers.

Base of  El Capitan - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Near the Base of El Capitan – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Cathedral Rock and Cathedral Spires - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Cathedral Rock and Spires – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We drove back to the lodge and had dinner at the dining hall/cafeteria.  They have different food stations and there are lots of tasty choices and the food prices reflect the vendor monopoly in the park.  I had the chicken sandwich and my stepbrother had fish.  After dinner we went back to the room took showers and got cleaned up.  Then we went over to the Mountain Room Bar and watched Monday Night Football and had a beer.

Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

It was a clear night, the moon was full and there were many stars visible in the sky.  So, before going to bed I went for a night hike around the Lodge.  After a good night’s sleep, we woke up early, grabbed a quick breakfast and coffee at the dining hall/cafeteria and hit the road heading west out of the valley.

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tuesday sunrise on El Capitan - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Tuesday sunrise on El Capitan – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

We stopped at the Wawona Tunnel View picture point on the way out and got some great pics.

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Sunrise on Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel - Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel – Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel - Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Tunnel – Yosemite, California (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

The drive home was uneventful.  We stopped for lunch at a diner along the freeway and I had a great breakfast.  We hit some rain coming back into Los Angeles, but made good time and avoided the speed traps.

Driving the freeway home (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

Driving the freeway home (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)

It was a great weekend!  My stepbrother covered the cost of the tent cabin and lodge and I paid for the meals and gas.  We had a great time (except for the altitude sickness) and saw a lot in the short time we were there.  These are just a sampling of the pictures we took and the things we saw.  It was great to get back to Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley and I’ll probably write about my previous trips another time.  If you’ve made it all the way through please leave a comment or LIKE this if you liked it.

Thanks for reading my blog.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I encourage everyone to visit Yosemite National Park, because the pictures can’t compare to the wonders of nature experienced first hand.

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Taking pictures with my Blackberry in Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 Aaron Barth)

Taking pictures with my Blackberry in Yosemite Valley (copyright 2011 JoshWillTravel)