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campsites without reservations

Discussion of camping and road-accessible campgrounds in and near Yosemite National Park

Moderators: Wickett, dan

campsites without reservations

Postby archive » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:20 pm

Author: Linda (207.12.112.---)
Date: 07-30-02 14:37

My family hopes to camp in Yosemite next week! (Aug 6 - 13, 2002) I know that it will be impossible to get anything on the Valley floor, but there are a number of first-come, first-serve campgrounds. Does anyone know if this is a realistic option? Are we likely to find anything? I don't know how far one thing is from another, nor do I know what is nice and what isn't. Any suggestions or advice?

Re: campsites without reservations
Author: Dan Anderson (---.drydog.com)
Date: 07-30-02 15:32

The primitive campgrounds (no electricity and no piped water) on the Tioga Road in Yosemite Park are first-come, first-served. The best time is early in the morning when people are packing up and moving out. Also, the middle of the week (Mon. - Wed.) is good. They are all nice campgrounds, I think, unless you need the fancy stuff like running water or electricity.

There's some Forest Service campgrounds outside the park, on all roads. The ones on the east side of the Park (Lee Vining Canyon) are the easiest to get.

Good luck.

"Camping" Dan

Re: campsites without reservations
Author: Linda (207.12.112.---)
Date: 07-30-02 16:16

Dan -- Thank you for answering so quickly! Perhaps I should have been more descriptive of who we are and what we need. We don't have an RV or an SUV or a loud radio or anything else that would put us in the class of the "urban nightmare campers" that I've heard about in the Valley. But neither are we real rugged young backpacking types. We are not even very experienced campers. We're just a family on vacation. We have a tent (and two youngsters), and a moderate amount of "stuff", so we need to be able to drive up to the campsite. I don't need anything "fancy", but no running water would be a lot harder than I was hoping for! (Do I dare even mention flush toilets?)

The campsites I have listed below are marked as first-come, first-served. Do any of them fit the sort of "middle-ground" experience that I was hoping for. I don't know what any of them are like, nor what they are close to. And, is it realistic to think that we would find an no-reservation space in a nice one? (What is "nice"? In a beautiful spot, running water, toilets, maybe some shade, maybe even a picnic table...)

Tuolumne Meadows (Hwy. 120 East): open July - Sept, 50% reservations, 50% first come are first served; tents & RVs.

Porcupine Flat (Hwy. 120 East): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & RVs.

Yosemite Creek (Hwy. 120 East): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & small RVs.

White Wolf (Hwy. 120 East): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & small RVs.

Tamarack Flat (Hwy. 120 East): open June - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & small RVs.

Bridalveil Creek (Glacier Point Road): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & RVs.

If you can offer any pointers that would work for an ordinary family, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks again.

Re: campsites without reservations
Author: Dan Anderson (---.drydog.com)
Date: 07-30-02 17:01

All Yosemite Park drive-in campgrounds have a picnic table, parking spot, and fire ring, trash cans, and space for a tent. All are located in nice forested areas.

Tamarack Flat, Yosemite Creek, and Porcupine Flat have pit toilets and no water. For water, you can bring one or two 5-gallon water jugs. All other campgrounds have tap water and flush toilets.

Your best chances are at the 3 primitive campgrounds or going in the middle of the week or arriving early (around 9 or 10am when people leave).

For a campground chart with more details, see

Re: campsites without reservations
Author: Yann (212.155.208.---)
Date: 07-31-02 12:04

I writing from Paris (France) and I am in the same situation (no reservation for campsites since everything is full !!!)
I'm going to Yosemite in the 18th of August and for a 2 weeks trip in which we plan to go until Sequoia NP, Death Valley...etc...

If I understand, it is possible to find proper camp sites without reservations near the Park.

It's amazing to see that camp sites are so small in the US. In France, they all have a minimum of 150 sites... (!!!). I thought they would be bigger in the US (since the country itself is bigger...) and then, we did not make any reservations. Too bad...

Do you know a web site address where I could get addresses and driving directions for Camp sites near Yosemite???
The Official Yosemite web site is kind of poor on this subject.
I think there is a real opportunity for someone who would make a web site on "alternative lodging solutions near the Yosemite park" with addresses of good restaurants, local pubs, hiking-trekking oppotunities IN the park...etc...
Well, something "outside the box".
I think I'll build one once we'll be back... (if we can get through)
Thanks a lot for your help!


Re: campsites without reservations
Author: Yann (212.155.208.---)
Date: 07-31-02 12:08

...well, actually, I went through this web site latter on and this is exactly what I was looking for...


Re: campsites without reservations
Author: Dan Anderson (---.drydog.com)
Date: 07-31-02 12:17

The large campsittes require reservations. The Pines campgrounds (which are all next to each other) have 400 sites. Tuolumne Meadows has 314. They are loud and have children running around screaming and banging on pots and trash cans most of the night. The more primitive campgrounds are smaller and quieter for those who want to get away from all the noise.

For a list of campsites in and outside the park, see
http://yosemite.ca.us/faq.html and click on "Camping." There's also a short list of good trails to take.

The park and surrounding area is wilderness and not developed. There are not a lot of pubs or restaurants in or near Yosemite Park.

It's best to get a reservation if you can.
A list of available campsites for each campground is kept at a (unofficial) website,

Hope this helps.

Re: campsites without reservations
Author: richard improta (---.anhmca.adelphia.net)
Date: 04-25-04 10:52

We love Bridalveil...does it still operate? We heard that on certain years the funds haven't ben available to "Ready" this campground to be open in time for the summer season. Richard
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