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New To Yosemite Advice Needed

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:54 pm
by SMR
Just got a top for my truck and I plan to do some weekend trips and day hikes in Yosemite.

Are there any places where I can park and sleep over night in my truck for free? I will be coming from San Francisco so if anyone knows of some good truck stops or rest areas along the way they would recommend that would be cool.

Also, what day hikes and bike rides should I start off with January through April?


PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:30 pm
by AlmostThere
There are no places inside the park where you can park and sleep for free. Some parking lots are monitored throughout the night to prevent just that - rangers were flashlighting cars the night we arrived to start a day hike to Half Dome very early in the morning.

Outside the park, it might be possible to do that. The closer you are to the park the less likely it becomes - you would not be able to do it along the Merced River, nor would you likely be able to heading up to the west gate. I've seen folks camping in pullouts on the road between the main highway and Hetch Hetchy - that's all National Forest. There are a few spots heading up 41 to the southern gate that I think you could get away with it, but not many. It's pretty much set up so you are herded into designated campgrounds so they can control the impact we have on the already-impacted area.

January through April? Hope you have snowshoes or cross country skis. The bike might be useful in the valley, they plow the roads. You'll only be allowed to bike on the roads. No bike trails.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:41 pm
by SMR
Looks like RV parking for me then, unless there's some tent spots you can park at? I'd like to be in the park and as close to trails as possible.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:53 pm
by AlmostThere
It all depends on when you are going. If you sleep in the car you will be in the campgrounds, for sure, and not Camp 4 which is walk-in sites. All the campgrounds are set up for both RV and tent camping. In winter there are fewer campgrounds open and all are first come/first serve. You can probably get a site in upper Pines easily this time of year, it's quite cold at night and not everyone likes to sleep out of doors.

Around the end of May through mid-September, you will need a reservation to get a site, or rely on cancellations or the first come/first serve spots. It gets tough to get a campsite but it's possible. The park website ( has details on when you can start booking - the lead time is five months before you want to camp.

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 11:03 am
by hotrod4x5
AlmostThere wrote: You'll only be allowed to bike on the roads. No bike trails.
Actually, there is a bike trail that goes from Yosemite lodge, all the way around the valley to the east. No further west, however. You can also bike to Mirror lake. Today is my first day on the forums, so I cannot post links, but if you google Yosmite bike trails, you will get a page with information and also a map of the valley showing the trail.