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Last minute planning: Public transportation and camp sites

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 7:54 am
by Jonas VG
Dear forum members,

I am flying into San Francisco from Europe next Saturday and due to unforeseen circumstances my (work related) plans have been cancelled. On the bright side, this would give me the opportunity to pay a visit to the amazing Yosemite National Park.

Because I’m on somewhat of a budget and won’t have a car there, I would like to take public transportation and camp in the valley (I will buy a small tent, sleeping bag, ..) from 06/06 to 06/09. While doing some research, I found out that the combination of public transportation and camping (without having made a reservation) might not work. By the time I will arrive in the valley, I won’t be able to get a spot in the ‘first come first serve’ camp sites and the sites with reservation have all been booked since several months.

So far I have figured out that, from San Franciso:

1) I get to a BART station and make my way to the Richmond station
2) At the Richmond station, I can switch to Amtrak and ride until Merced station (San Joaquin line) = approx. 2.5 hours
3) Take a YARTS bus to Yosemite
4) From here, there will be shuttle busses connecting different sites/hotels/campsites

There are trains from Richmond to Merced at 7:54 – 10:14 – 12:54 – 2:49 – 6:14.
If I take the 7:54 AMTRAK, I should be able to take the 10:55 YARTS into the park (if I interpreted this time table correctly: ... evised.pdf)

By 1:25 the bus should arrive at Yosemite Valley Lodge, which seems relatively close to ‘Camp 4’ on the map. But will there be any spots available by that time? Apparently the ranger there arrives at 8:30 and a line has often been formed even before that hour, so my chances are not looking to good. Does anyone have any experience with this or have any suggestions? I’m not specifically aiming at ‘Camp 4’, any campsite will do!

Thank you in advance,

Re: Last minute planning: Public transportation and camp sit

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 9:54 am
by Dave_Ayers
Sorry, I can't answer your question about Camp 4.

But you may be able to save some $$ by renting equipment instead of buying. Several shops in SF rent tents, packs, sleeping bags, and other items. There are REI, Sports Basement, LastMinuteGear, and probably a few other shops in SF that rent.

Re: Last minute planning: Public transportation and camp sit

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 9:02 am
by AlmostThere
Here is the Superintendent's Compendium. ... endium.pdf

Go to page 16. Read on the rules for the backpacker camp - anyone arriving via public transportation may stay in the backpacker camp one night. There are no caps or restrictions on that camp, they just pack them in, it's 5 per person. So go there whenever you arrive and take a copy of this page from the compendium (some of the staff don't read the compendium) as well as your bus ticket and if you are checked for a permit that is what you have. The following morning go EARLY over to Camp 4 and get yourself a spot for the following nights, also check with the kiosk in the parking lot at Half Dome VIllage for canceled campground reservations in the main campgrounds, you might get lucky there.

In fact, keep checking each day for campsites, the regular ones, before you go. I've gotten sites last minute before. They are not transferable so to get any money back people have to cancel them.

Re: Last minute planning: Public transportation and camp sit

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 12:44 pm
by Jonas VG
I had almost given up my search for how to visit Yosemite, this makes me very happy.

Thank you so much for your reply!