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[Yosemite]

Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Justin-T » Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:45 am

Another booking window for campsite reservations opens up tomorrow morning. It looks like for TM the advanced bookings are not site-specific, so I'm thinking my best shot is to go for a tent-only site. I had four family members each waiting at this time last year to get one spot in Upper Pines and even though we all clicked at 7am exactly, only one of us was successful (no complaints, we got a site, but it showed how difficult it is to reserve a spot in the valley). Is it just as bad getting sites at TM?

Anybody have any tips for me?
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Phil » Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:07 pm

Why fight that battle? Tuolumne is only a close second to the Valley campgrounds for reservations, availability, and crowds. Depending on when you're planning on going and their projected opening dates this year, Porcupine Flat and White Wolf are easier to get into, and nicer places to camp, IMO. White Wolf in particular is much easier as far as first-come, first served tent sites go, especially if you're coming in mid-week.
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Justin-T » Mon Mar 14, 2016 3:58 pm

Good point, but we're going to be arriving late (6-8pm) on a Friday evening in late July, so I'm guessing first-come first spots are going to be hard to find (possibly unavailable) anywhere in the Park. We've also only got a couple days to acclimatize before 6 days backpacking the High Sierra loop, so I was hoping to find something at decent elevation for the first night and I can't reserve either Porcupine or White Wolf. Hence the plan to get something for 2 nights in TM.
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:33 pm

Half the sites in Tuolumne are not reservable. I usually get someone up there early Friday morning to get in line at the kiosk, end up on a waitlist, and then come back at 2 pm to find we've got a site because hardly any of the waitlist folks come back.

My plan, if reserving a site doesn't work, would be to drive to Tuolumne and see if beyond all odds there is a site available. Then go to Saddlebag Lake, Tenaya Lake, Junction campground, the walk in campground halfway up the road to Saddlebag Lake, Ellery Lake, and then to the campsites further down the east side of Tioga Road. There are quite a few campsites. The complete fallback would be a certain pullout on the road to Saddlebag Lake where people toss out mats and bags and sleep. Early Saturday morning, I would return to Tuolumne and get in like at the kiosk, get on the waitlist, and hike in Tuolumne Meadows, returning in the afternoon after the day's checkouts have been processed, to get a site.

It's not a certainty, but you did ask what my strategy was....
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Phil » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:49 pm

Justin-T wrote:...arriving late (6-8pm) on a Friday evening in late July, so I'm guessing first-come first spots are going to be hard to find (possibly unavailable) anywhere in the Park.


The correct terms is: Impossible to find in that case.

No way to get at least get there in the am, or better yet, Thursday?

You could run down the line on Tioga Rd for the first night....first is Tamarack Creek, then White Wolf (not likely), then Yosemite Creek. They'll put up signs at the road and save you the drive in if they're full, except at WW. The former two are where the last minute folks end up, so if it's like July 4th, forget that too. The second night would be the backpacker's camp at Tuolumne under your wilderness permit conditions of being able to stay one night before and after your planned entry.
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Justin-T » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:02 pm

Thanks for the suggestions both of you. We can't there any earlier because we're flying in from Boston that day, landing just before noon, then we have to rent a car so the 6pm is very likely hopelessly optimistic, because it assumes little traffic between the Bay Area and Yosemite on a late July Friday afternoon :lol:

I guess we'll see how lucky we get at the appointed hour tomorrow and then make a plan if that fails.
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby balzaccom » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:26 pm

Pm me for a possible solution...
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Phil » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:57 pm

Yeah, you're going to hit heavy traffic coming out of Oakland on the 580 all the way through to probably at least the junction with I-5 and into Manteca. On a Friday night, you'll probably be 6 hours out from the Big Oak Flat entrance station. Then maybe another hour to Tuolumne. I would shoot for a spot at Tamarack Flat or Yosemite Creek that time of night, but be prepared to beat your rental car on the roads in (get the full coverage!), assuming there are spaces.

What date in July?
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:08 pm

If I were you I would grab a cheap motel room in Manteca on the way to the park and call it good. Get up early and finish the drive in the morning. Navigating from SFO to Manteca can take an hour, or it can take six or seven, depending on whether or not someone gets in an accident. It looks short enough on google maps, but even just now at nearly 10 at night, I see three construction zones and an accident...
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Phil » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:41 am

AlmostThere wrote:If I were you I would grab a cheap motel room in Manteca on the way to the park and call it good. Get up early and finish the drive in the morning. Navigating from SFO to Manteca can take an hour, or it can take six or seven, depending on whether or not someone gets in an accident. It looks short enough on google maps, but even just now at nearly 10 at night, I see three construction zones and an accident...


Yeah, that's really the safest bet. AT obviously knows that stretch really well and is giving you great advice. On a Friday, pretty much count on something unpleasant going on somewhere on that drive, and probably not getting out of SFO until 1-ish puts you into a really bad window of timing for some of the worst of it. I know you're going to be anxious to get there, and not pushing on after coming all the way from Boston is going to go against every instinct you have, but Manteca's going to be the last place to find any reasonably priced rooms. You get out to Oakdale and prices are going up and selection is going down. Also on a Friday night, closer to the park in places like Groveland and Buck's Meadow, not only won't you find anything that's available, including campgrounds, but even with booking ahead of time, they'll gouge you hard for a dump of a room. Finding a spot at Tamarack or Yosemite Creek boils down to pure luck and operating on hope, but if you try to go for broke and test out the possibilities at Tuolumne without something secured ahead of time, it's going to be a very long and miserable night. The rangers patrol Tioga Rd constantly, and they aren't too keen on people sleeping in their cars.

Good luck with finding a campsite this morning! That would just solve everything.
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Justin-T » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:21 am

We got lucky! I had 3 machines all set up, my son had 2, I got one he got two, so we are all set. My only concern now is that our site will still be available to us if we don't get there until 8 or 9 pm. It looks like you can arrive even the next morning before 10am according to the regs online:

If you have a reservation, you can arrive any time after noon, but must check in prior to 10 am the morning after the first night of your reservation or your reservation will be cancelled.


But these bookings are for a site number to be assigned later, so I assume the ranger will leave a list in the kiosk window telling us which one we've got when he/she leaves for the day?

Thanks again for the advice, fortunately it looks like it won't be needed. 8)
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Re: Tips on reserving a campsite at Tuolumne?

Postby Phil » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:53 am

Good job. Yes, your site assignment will be posted on a list at the entry booth/kiosk to the campground after the rangers leave for the day. You're right about the times, so no worries there...people arrive at all hours.

If you don't have one, print out a map. Tuolumne is big and can be somewhat confusing to get around in if you come in after dark.
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tmcamp.htm

Be super sure to keep your food secured at all times. Don't pet rodents.
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