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Dispersed Camping in April

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

Moderators: Wickett, dan

Dispersed Camping in April

Postby dan » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:06 pm

Postby Doublenn » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:28 pm
Hi all,

My husband and I will be visiting Yosemite for the first time at the end of April. We are super stoked to go, just bummed we can only swing being there for 1 night. We would prefer to backpack and do dispersed camping because it's more our style and feels like the right way to experience Yosemite. However, not being really familiar with the weather situation, any idea if dispersed camping is feasible/a good idea at the end of April? Keep in mind we're from Phoenix. We have really good mummy bags, tent, base layers, etc., but are probably a little whimpy when it comes to the cold.

Also, any recommendations on the best, maybe less touristy trails, to check out would be greatly appreciated. We're both climbers and would love to be spending some time on the walls, but my husband just had shoulder surgery in January, so we'll just be hiking and enjoying the sites this time. I'm not sure how much we can fit in seeing in two days, so recommendations to help us focus down our itinerary would be really helpful.


Postby balzaccom » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:41 pm
In April, the only roads in the park that will be open will be the roads into Yosemite Valley itself, and perhaps the road to Glacier Point. None of those roads allow for dispersed camping. In fact, the only camping allowed in Yosemite is either in the established campgrounds or at least four miles into the wilderness with a wilderness permit. And most of the wilderness will be under snow in April. If you are only there for one night, it will make no sense for you to try to drive to the park, pick up your permit and then hike 4-6 miles up into the wilderness, only to make camp and turn around again then next morning. And if you have never been to Yosemite, you owe it to yourself to spend your time seeing what there is to see in the Valley. It's a tiny section of the park, but it is absolutely stunningly scenic, and even with plenty of people there, it will take your breath away.

Hike up to Nevada Falls or above. The waterfalls should be roaring in April. Check out Glacier Point if the road is open. If not, consider hiking up the steep 4 Mile Trail to see it. Hike up the Yosemite Falls Trail on the north side of the valley---it usually has less snow on top, given its southern exposure. Enjoy the valley, and don't worry about trying to see all of Yosemite in one or two days. Come back in the summer when the high county isn't under ten feet of snow, and see some more of the park.

You don't say where you are driving from----but it's a good four hours from SF to Yosemite---and that will eat up a big part of one of those days.

Climbing in Yosemite is the big leagues. Not to discourage you, but it is really world class granite with many routes above 5.9--and some of those go for thousands of feet up. You can certainly do some bouldering and climbing on the lower sections of some of the walls, but also bear in mind that there are serious climbers in the area going for big climbs.

Where to stay? I would try for a campground reservation or stay at the lodge. You may also be able to camp outside the park in some of the USFS campgrounds, but that will reduce the time you can spend in the park.

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:43 am
Average lows in April in Yosemite run into the 30s. Though it can do that in the high country any time of year....

If the dispersal thing is really your gig, I recommend the national forest. Going up the 80, or the 4, or 108. Do a little research on those, there are opportunities with less face time with rangers, if any. You'll need permits only for designated wilderness areas. The 80 is for certain open. 108 is contingent on snow levels at the time.

So my recommendation is to either get a tent cabin or a campsite and do as balzacom suggests, have a great time in the absolutely jaw dropping valley floor day hiking, or go somewhere else and backpack in similar backcountry with less red tape. Because once you have left the Valley, the woods look pretty much the same anywhere in the Sierra. (You're not doing Half Dome in April. Cables are not up.)

(Edited because I just double checked - I thought the quota period was April - November, it is May - November, so permits are available for any who wish to have one --- BUT, this also means that anything within a day's walk of the trailhead will have campers in it, in Yosemite!)

April is also considered winter anywhere in the Sierra, so you will still need chains in the car. We are having some cold snaps currently, with snow still falling. That pattern sometimes continues into May.
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