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19 Top Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots

19 Top Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots

We want to not only give you a great look at the Yosemite National Park free camping spots but everything that is available to you in the park.  We give you the best places to visit, things to do, packing lists and hiking options.

There are many reasons to make you visit Yosemite National Park. First of all, this park is one of the formidable natural landscapes in California US which is roughly 1200 square miles. The park has a lot of stunning features that you can enjoy anytime you go there. There are plenty of towering waterfalls, cliff faces, unique rock formations, millennia-old Sequoia trees, wildlife, lakes, and glaciers that are just fascinating for you to see.

However, most of the activities that you do in the park are within Yosemite Valley which is only 8-square miles. In this valley, you will find famous landmarks such as El Capitan and Half Dome and excellent hiking trails which make your trip worth it. You can find fun through hiking, rock climbing, skiing, horse riding, and many more activities. These are enough reasons for you to explore the park and be among the 4 million visitors annually.

The park can be expensive so we suggest you take a look at all of the Yosemite National Park free camping spots in our post.  You will find that these Yosemite National Park free camping spots are located all around the park and it is much cheaper to stay outside and drive 10 to 15 miles than paying the park fees.

History of Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park was created on October 1, 1890, by an act of congress and it is home to many natural wonders like the Half Dome and the sequoia trees. The residents of Yosemite Valley were Native Americans until 1849 when the gold rush brought many non-American miners to the region. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln declared Yosemite Valley a public trust of California to protect it from further damage and exploitation by the settlers who occupied the valley due to the gold rush.

There are many black and white Yosemite’s photographs which were taken by Ansel Adams (1902 -1984). Adams lived in the park for many years just to take the park’s photographs. Today many visitors stream into this park to check out landmarks such as the Yosemite Falls as well as the El Capitan and Half Dome rock formations.

Yosemite Sunrise

How to Get To the Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most convenient parks to visit in the USA. This is because it is surrounded by a variety of airports and the distance between the airports and the park is a driving distance that does not take much time. Fresno-Yosemite International Airport is the closest to the park and from this airport; you will have to drive for a distance of 65 miles in about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the park.

The other airports close to Yosemite National Park are San Francisco International Airport, San Jose International Airport, and Oakland International Airport. From these airports, you will need to drive roughly 3 hours to reach the park. To get around Yosemite National Park, a car is the best option compared to Yosemite’s shuttles. However, during the summer season when the park is crowded, Yosemite’s shuttles become a better alternative due to huge road traffic and parking lots filling up so fast.

Yosemite Water

Choosing the Right Entrances to Yosemite National Park

Are you planning to take your friends or family to Yosemite National Park? Well, this is an excellent park you can visit over the weekend or during the holidays since it has a lot to offer. One thing to note, though, is that Yosemite National Park has a total of five entrances you can use to access the park. So, which is the best Entrance to use?

Well, if you are wondering where to pass to access the park, this is the right article to read as we are going to review the five entrances to Yosemite National Park and what to expect on your way. From our reviews, choose based on where you come from and the experience you want to have at the park.

1. Hetchy entrance

This is the Entrance that you access when you come from highway 120 and by Evergreen road. I would highly recommend this Entrance to people who don’t want much commotion or tagging kids along. It is a much quieter entrance, has lesser crowds, and we can’t ignore the fact that there are many features you view on your way. One downfall to note, though, is this Entrance is located at the furthest part of the Northside of the park.

Probably one of the reasons it has fewer crowds compared to others. But hey! If you need convenience in accessing the significant Yosemite National Park, I believe the Entrance is a sure bet.

The origin of Hetchy

This is an entrance that has existed for more than 6,000 years. Before it was approved as an entrance to Yosemite National Park, the area used to be home to Native Americans until around the 1850s. Hetchy is delivered from the word Hetchy, which is a common word used to define the seed of native grass used as a food product.

The estimated access crowd

In 2012, only 50,000 people accessed the major part through the Hetch Hetchy entrance throughout the year, compared to others like Yosemite Valley, which had 24,000 passers daily.

What to enjoy viewing through the Entrance

Mark Twain cabin

This is a well-celebrated author who wrote about The Celebrated Jumping frog of Calaveras County in 1865. You can learn a few things about this artist since his information is stored in his cabin. On the way, you will see vineyards, a great place to learn about grapes’ growth. Another place you will enjoy as you drive through this Entrance is the Historical Park located at Jamestown. One outstanding feature to view here is Engine No 3, featured in countless movies and TV shows.

Other benefits associated with  Hetchy include; This place is perfect for hiking, especially during the spring seasons. The two largest waterfalls located in North America can be seen here.
There are various native plants like California black oak, incense cedar, grey pine, and manzanita shrubs.
Are you interested in seeing the most significant bats in North America? There is a possibility of seeing these bats when you pass here.

2. The Big Oak Flat Entrance

This is the Entrance you access if you are coming from the Bay area and heading to Yosemite. This route is located at The South-East part of the Big Oak Flat. How do you get to the Big Oak Flat entrance? You have to pass through the 1-580 from East to 1-205 East of Highway 120 East, through the Mantec, Calif.

What to enjoy through the Entrance

This Entrance ensures you have a full stomach before accessing the Yosemite National Park. At the Groveland, you will find all sorts of restaurants, shops, hotels, and so on located about 24 miles from the Entrance. Also, it is crucial to note that Groveland is the largest town situated between the Big oak flat entrance and Sonora.

You can never get bored passing through this Entrance, especially during the summer since live bands are performing along the way, and you get to enjoy wine tasting at Historic Hotel Charlotte located downtown. Have you ever heard about the iron Door saloon? Well, this famous saloon established in 1852 is found around this area. Lastly, you will enjoy some facilities like banks, medical clinics, and even pharmacies.

3. Arch Rock Entrance

This Entrance is highly recommendable for visitors coming from San Francisco and its environs. However, note that you can use the Big Oak Flat entrance for fast access if you take the route passing through the 1-580 to 1-205 East to highway 140 of the East. Through this Entrance, you will get to a point where the road turns to Yosemite Valley.

What to enjoy on the Entrance

El portal town

Once you reach Yosemite Valley, you will have an opportunity of accessing El portal town, which is best known for having gas stations available 24/7, and you can pay with a credit card. There is a market where you can go shopping or a spot for a family picnic at the campground around the same town.

In this town, most Yosemite National Park employees reside her including Naturebridge and Yosemite Conservancy employees. In the east part of the El Portal town, you will find two significant towns: Midlines and Mariposa.

4. The southern part Entrance

This Entrance is recommendable for people coming from San Diego or Los Angeles. You will access the Entrance through Highway 41.

What to enjoy through the Entrance

This Entrance has a small town referred to as Fish Camp, and it has accommodation places for those who may want to stay a few days at the park. If you are looking for accommodations, check out the Tenaya Lodge, one of the largest hotels at the southern Entrance since it has about 350 rooms. Also, the hotel offers a variety of lounging options, as you can choose from cabins to cottages.

5. The Tioga Pass Entrance

This Entrance is preferred by people who want to access Yosemite since you can easily access the town from Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Death Valley.

What to enjoy through this Entrance

The Rent city is located around 140 miles drive from the Tioga entrance, which takes at most 3 hours to go.

If you want to experience the fun life of Las Vegas, it will take you around 6 hours drive to reach Las Vegas.

Death Valley is 4 hours drive from the Entrance. So, this is one of the most versatile entrances to use when accessing different cities around. Also, we cannot forget to mention that the Entrance is opened from May to October and closes in November.

Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots

Yosemite National Park is in Mariposa County in the US and is open throughout the year in all seasons. There are many things that you can do while in this park. Such activities include seeing awe-inspiring vistas, stunning waterfalls, granite icons, and finding fascinating history. The good thing is that you will never fall short of things to do while in Yosemite National Park whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned veteran traveler. Yosemite National Park receives about 4 million visitors every year hence it is a vacation destination choice for many people.

19 Top Boondocking Spot Details

1. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 3 Miles From YMP: PGE parking

Address
Bass Lake, California
GPS: 37.293835, -119.531886
Elevation: 3383′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Paved. PGE parking is open All year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 30+ at PGE parking. Parking in a dirt lot just off the paved road. Big lot with lots of space and no signs specifying no camping or parking. Camped here 1 night close to the water and saved the 35$ fee a mile up the road

Amenities:

Boat Ramp
Near Water
Pets Welcome

Activities:

Swimming
Water Sports
Wildlife Viewing

1. PGE parking

2. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 8 Miles From YMP: Redinger Lake

Address
Redinger Lake Road
North Fork, California
GPS: 37.145072, -119.454472

Management – Public – Forest Service

Redinger is open all year No fires. The maximum RV length at Redinger is 25 feet. This campground is called Redinger Lake Primitive Campground and is right next to Redinger Dam. There are lights that turn on at night on the dam but they are really dim and didn’t hinder us from viewing the night sky. This campground is really easy to get level on, especially if you camp on the concrete slab but the other grassy areas are pretty level too. It’s open all year round and has a 14 day stay limit. Even though this is a large campground and any size RV can fit here, the road in is VERY windy and narrow.

Amenities:

Boat Ramp
Near Water
Pets Welcome
Restrooms

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
Boating
Fishing
Swimming
Wildlife Viewing

2. Redinger Lake 2. Redinger Lake 3 Yosemite National Park

3. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 9 Miles From YMP: Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino

Address
Coarsegold, California
GPS: 37.21256, -119.70023
Elevation: 2064′

Management – Private – Casino

The road in is Paved. The maximum RV length at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino is unlimited. If you’re on your way to Yosemite national Park, this place can be an option to spend a night or a couple of nights at the casino parking lot. The casino have an designated area for RVs with plenty of light and security driving around the parking lot, I saw people using generators with out any problems.

4. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 11 Miles From YMP: Sky Ranch Road – High Sierra dispersed camping

Address
Oakhurst, California
GPS: 37.410222, -119.585077
Elevation: 4915′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Paved. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 days at Sky Ranch Road – High Sierra dispersed camping. This is a moderate-sized pullout on the side of Sky Ranch Road in Sierra National Forest. It’s long enough you could fit a 36′ (maybe longer) trailer, and wide enough that you can park a passenger vehicle 30 feet from the road without leaving the gravel. If you’ve got good ground clearance you can probably pull into the trees and be 50′ from the road, but it’s soft and slightly slanted.

Activities:

RV Parking
Hiking

Yosemite National Park

5. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 12 Miles From YMP: Jose Basin Bridge site

Address
Auberry, California
GPS: 37.12614, -119.37117
Elevation: 3087′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt. Jose Basin Bridge site is open all year. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. Small but awesome spot next to a creek. Ideal for 1 group. Great base camp for riding up to Big Creek or into upper Jose Basin.

Amenities:

Near Water

Activities:

Fishing
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Rock Climbing

Yosemite Waterfalls

6. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 12 Miles From YMP: Miami Creek OHV Area – Kamook Staging

Address
Oakhurst, California
GPS: 37.415164, -119.636342

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. Turn off on the west side of the 41 and drive up a well-graded but steep road for under a mile. Good spot to crash for a night between Fresno and Yosemite if you don’t mind noise. Beware on weekends it is overrun by ATVers and dirtbikers running laps around the small dirt clearing and right next to your car or camper, and leaving the place trashed with bud light cans, solo cups, and entire bags of garbage. You could pitch a tent here if you really wanted, but I couldn’t imaging sleeping here in a tent because I’d be worried about getting run over by a 12 year old on a 90cc.

Amenities:

Pets Welcome

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Wildlife Viewing

7. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 12 Miles From YMP: Nelder Grove Campground

Address
37.43118561, -119.5821422
Oakhurst, California
GPS: 37.431186, -119.582142
Elevation: 5400′

Management – Public – USDA Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 2+ miles from a paved road. Nelder Grove Campground is open Spring to Fall. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. You may stay 14 Nights at Nelder Grove Campground. Sites are located along Willow Creek. Good shade provided by pine and fir trees. Located near Bull Buck Trail. Parking Lot; restroom; historical sites; nature trails

Directions:Take Hwy 41 north from Fresno; continue thru Oakhurst to Sky Ranch Road (6S10), which is also Forest Road 10, travel 6.6 miles turn left on 6S47Y, go 1.2 miles to the fork in the road, continue right on 6S90 for 3/10 of a mile, turn left at Nelder Grove campground sign, travel 5/10 of a mile to campground.

Amenities:

Picnic Tables
Restrooms
Activities:
Hiking

Yosemite National Park

8. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 14 Miles From YMP: Miami Creek OHV – Lone Sequoia Trailhead

Address
Forestry Road 6S24
Ahwahnee, California
GPS: 37.427779, -119.667083
Elevation: 4406′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Dirt. Located two miles north of CA 41 on Forestry Road 6S24. Ten minutes from Yosemite National Park. You will pass one dispersed camp on the right continue on and you’ll cross over small bridge and half mile from bridge you’ll come to Lone Sequoia Trailhead. There are five designated camp spots with picnic tables and grills plus vault toilets. 14 day stay.

Amenities:

Pets Welcome
Restrooms
Activities:
RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Hiking
Wildlife Viewing

Yosemite National Park

9. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 15 Miles From YMP: Sierra National Park, Wild Camping

Address
Fish Camp, California
GPS: 37.443116, -119.655245
Elevation: 4813′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt and 1 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Easy access off main road. There’s a little bit of noise from traffic along that main road, but none on the dirt road coming to the site. Beautiful, quiet spot on the way to Yosemite National Park! Stayed here for one night and couldn’t find the exact clearing that was mentioned in the description, but there are many places that are flat and a tent can be pitched along the road. As previously reviewed, there are many dead trees on both sides of the road. Road in was easy to drive

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Horse Trails

10. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 15 Miles From YMP: Iron Lakes

Address
6S10
Bass Lake, California
GPS: 37.489747, -119.501977
Elevation: 8478′

Management – Public – Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Sierra National Forest’s Bass Lake Ranger District. This campsite does not use a reservation system. First come, first served. This is a high elevation location.

Activities:

Wildlife Viewing

11. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 16 Miles From YMP: Dinky Creek Road

Address
Dinkey Creek Road
Shaver Lake, California
GPS: 37.096035, -119.296593
Elevation: 5743′

Management – Public – Forest Service (USDA) (Unofficial)

The road in is Paved. Free boondocking (dry camping) in the tress alongside Dinky Creek Road. This area is packed during the height of the season. Rangers visit regularly and will enforce the 14 day rule.

Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots

12. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 16 Miles From YMP: Goat Meadow Trailhead and Snow Play Area

Address
Fish Camp, California
GPS: 37.491268, -119.623491
Elevation: 5285′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

Parking lot available for boondocking 1/2 mile from Yosemite Gate. Turn onto Mt Raymond Road which is about a mile past Summerdale Campground.

13. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 18 Miles From YMP: FS 5s09

Address
Fish Camp, California
GPS: 37.499083, -119.670139

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

A campsite in the National Forest just outside the South entrance of Yosemite National Park. Very quiet. Easy 1 lane road. We stayed here for 1 night with a camper van. It was very quiet as we were the only ones here in mid October. The road was a little rough but our 2wd van made it just fine. I can see how it would be worse if it had just rained (pure dirt and dust). Google maps took us right to the spot in the road where you turn off; there’s a dirt pull—through to the right of the road. Extra bonus of cell phone service through Verizon (1 or 2 bars). Beautiful space in the trees, great find!

Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots

14. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 20 Miles From YMP: Summit Camp

Address
7214 Chowchilla Mountain Road
Fish Camp, California
GPS: 37.508785, -119.694757
Elevation: 5541′

Management – Public – Forest Service – Summit Camp is open Jun-Oct.

This free campsite is located within the Sierra National Forest’s Bass Lake Ranger District. This campsite was beautiful, it was amazing to camp among sequoia trees! There was only one other campsite that was used while we were there on a Saturday night in July. We were in a tent and there were multiple spots to pick from. There are no bathrooms and you have to have a permit to have a fire.

Our GPS took us up into the mountains but it said our destination was just in the middle of a road. We ended up going about 4 miles from the point where the road turned into a gravel road to the point where we turned into the campground. We drove up in a 2 wheel drive car and made it fine but definitely had to go slow because of some big ruts. It takes a while to get the the campsite but it was a pretty drive.

Amenities:

Restrooms

Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots

15. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 21 Miles From YMP: Sample Meadow Campground

Address
Lakeshore, California
GPS: 37.33314, -119.15334
Elevation: 7828′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

Sample Meadow Campground is open during summer. There are 16-29 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Sample Meadow Campground. Located near the Kaiser and Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sample Meadow Campground offers 16 Free campsites located along Kaiser Creek. No reservations; first come / first serve. Vault toilets are provided and each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and bear box. There is trailhead parking outside of campground approximately .5 mile for hikes into the wilderness. Large RV’s and motorhomes not recommended. Horse camping is permitted. Water and garbage service not provided.

Turnoff from Kaiser Pass located at N 37.31167, W-119.28448
Entrance to campground at N 37.33314, W-119.15334

Maximum length of stay = 14 days
Maximum vehicle length = Not recommended for large RV’s or motorhomes
Maximum group size = 6 per site

Amenities:

Near Water
Pets Welcome
Restrooms

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

Yosemite Sunset

16. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 21 Miles From YMP: Summit

Address
50725-50741 Dinkey Creek Road
Shaver Lake, California
GPS: 37.082028, -119.198972
Elevation: 6532′

Management – Public – Forest Service

Summit camping area is a great place for those who enjoy rustic camping. Toilets, water, and garbage service are not provided at this site. The site contains one picnic table and rock fire ring. Love this place ! Middle of nowhere! When we went , we stayed for 4nites, didn’t see any other campers till the day we left.

Summit is open Jun-Oct.

Amenities:

Restrooms

17. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 24 Miles From YMP: Granite Creek Campground

Address
California
GPS: 37.538208, -119.264557
Elevation: 6972′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Dirt. The maximum RV length at Granite Creek Campground is 20 feet. Located along Granite Creek, Granite Creek Campground has two loops containing 20 campsites. Fir trees provide a good amount of shade at campsites. Horses are not permited in the lower loop; however, the upper loop of the facility is horse-friendly and offers corrals. The campground provides vault toilets and each site has picnic tables.

Directions:

From Fresno take Hwy 41 north to Road 200. Turn right and travel East to North Fork. Continue through North Fork to Minarets Road (Forest 81); The Clover Meadow Station is 52 miles from the Bass Lake Ranger District in North Fork. Driving time is 1 hour and 45 minutes from North Fork. Once you get to the ranger station travel approximately .5 mile turn right on road 4S60. Continue 3.1 miles to campground; 0.9 miles to lower Granite Creek.

Amenities:

Fire Ring
Horse Corral
Near Water
Pets Welcome
Picnic Tables
Restrooms

Activities:

Tent Camping
OHV
Fishing
Hiking
Horse Trails
Wildlife Viewing

18. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 27 Miles From YMP: Fence Meadow Camping Area

Address
Auberry, California
GPS: 36.979158, -119.178844
Elevation: 4685′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel and Way Far miles from a paved road. Fence Meadow Camping Area is open Year round. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. You may stay 14 at Fence Meadow Camping Area.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping

Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots

19. Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots – 28 Miles From YMP: Fence Meadow Camping Area Dispersed

Address
Auberry, California
GPS: 36.979158, -119.178844
Elevation: 4685′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

Sierra National Forest designated Dispersed Campground. 1 pit toilet. Google Earth Coordinates – 36.979158, -119.178844 I’ve never been here. Gave it a 5 star judging by the Earth View. I gave it a

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping

Costs and Camping For the Yosemite National Park

The costs for entrance and camping in Yosemite National Park are quite affordable. The vehicle entrance fee varies according to the time of the year and it involves a pass of seven days into the park. The per vehicle entrance fee between January and March is $25 while the fee between April and October is $30. The per-vehicle entrance fee between November and December is $25.

On the other hand, for an individual entrance fee, either on foot, horse, or bike you are required to pay $15. Motorcycles are charged an entrance fee of $20 per motorcycle. An annual pass into Yosemite National Park is $60. For the campsites that require family or group reservation you are charged a fee range of $26 to $50 while for first-come, first-served campsites you are required to pay between $6 and $18.

Yosemite River

Places and Things to Do and See with Descriptions

In Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Valley is the most spectacular section, and getting a campground within this region will save significant driving time. There are many campgrounds or boondocking spots within the park and below is the list of the best ones:

1. North Pines Campground – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

North Pines Campground is in a beautiful and fantastic location amongst granite cliff walls and towering pines. It is located near Curry Village and you just take a short time to walk to the nearby hiking trails. It has 81 sites with the privacy that you need. RVs, tents, and trailers are allowed into this campground. However, the campground is not always open since it opens only between April and November.

2. Upper Pines Campground – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

Out of the three campgrounds located in the Yosemite Valley, this campground is the largest since it has 238 campsites. The large pines and cedars in this campground provide you with a mix of sun and shade. Upper Pines Campground has sites that are smaller than those in North Pine Campground but is open year-round.

3. Lower Pines Campground – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

Out of the Upper Pines, Lower Pines, and North Pines Campgrounds which are all located in Yosemite Valley near Curry Village, this one is the smallest. One side of Lower Pines runs along the river and hence it is prone to flooding during spring. There are 60 sites open between Late March and early November.

4. Tuolumne Meadows Campground – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

This campground is located along Tioga Road and has 304 sites. Some of these sites are given on a first-come, first-served basis while others are reservable. There are flush toilets and potable water in this campground but no hookups.

5. Camp 4 – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

Camp 4 is associated with famous rock climbers like Warren Harding and Royal Robbins who camped in the 1960s to 1970s. Camp 4 is located among huge pine trees and has 35 tent sites which are given out via a lottery or on a first-come, first-served basis.

6. Summerdale Campground – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

This campground is located 1.5 miles away from Yosemite National Park. The campground has 30 sites with vault toilets, water, a picnic table, and a fire ring.

7. Cabins and Tents at Curry Village – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

You can rent one of the 319 cabins at Curry Village which has cot-style beds, a wooden floor, and light. You can find washrooms and showers by walking just a short distance from the cabins.

8. Hodgdon Meadow Campground – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

This campground is located within Yosemite National Park and just about one hour drive to the Yosemite Valley. It is a campground with year-round accessibility and has 105 sites. However, it is also a dusty campground.

9. Wawona Campground – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

From Yosemite Valley, Wawona Campground is just one hour drive and is located along the South Fork Merced River where campsites are amidst pines. The campground has 93 sites and is close to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center and Mariposa Grove.

10. Indian Flat RV Park – Yosemite National Park Free Camping Spots Alternative

This is a privately run campground that has more amenities. It has 25 RV and 25 tent sites which are surrounded by large and leafy trees which provide a woodsy atmosphere.

Things to Do at the Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is filled with natural wonders and your to-do list should at least include the following according to Travel experts and many visitors who have been in the park before.

1. Yosemite Valley

Your tour to Yosemite National Park would not be complete if you miss visiting Yosemite Valley. This is because the valley has most of the attractions in Yosemite National Park. These attractions include Tunnel View Outlook, El Capitan granite monolith, and waterfalls such as Nevada Fall, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Fall, and Bridalveil Fall. On top of these attractions, Yosemite Valley houses Yosemite Village where you find plenty of visitor centers, dining options, and lodging options.

2. Glacier Point

Without a doubt, Glacier Point is the best and the most comprehensive lookout in Yosemite National Park. While at Glacier Point you enjoy panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and landmarks like the Half Dome and Yosemite Falls and hence it is a can’t miss a spot while in the park. You can easily access Glacier point through a road hence you can forgo unnecessary climbs.

3. Tunnel View Outlook

Tunnel View Outlook is one of the most popular outlooks in Yosemite National Park. Here you find and enjoy the majestic view of Yosemite Valley including features such as Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall, and El Capitan. Tunnel View Outlook is along Wawona Road and is quite easy to reach. Tunnel View outlook offers you an amazing sight to behold with no fee or limitation to time and hence you should not miss it.

4. Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows has a high elevation of 8600 feet. This is a must-do while in Yosemite National Park because it involves fascinating scenery of the peaceful grasslands, bubbling rivers, lush forests, and amazing mountainscapes.

5. Half Dome

The Half Dome hike is an unforgettable experience that leads you to Nevada Fall. It also involves rock climbing where you are taken to Half Dome Cables. Since the trail has a very high elevation gain, it is not for the faint-hearted. To do this trail, you require good hiking boots, enough drinking water, and good grip gloves that you can use for rock climbing.

6. Mariposa Groove

A visit to Yosemite National Park can never be complete if you fail to see sequoia trees. There are three groves where you can view sequoia trees but Mariposa is the largest of them. In the Mariposa groove, you find more than 500 old and giant sequoia trees. Some of the featuring sequoia trees that you must see include the Fallen Monarch, Grizzly Giant, and the Fun California Tunnel Tree.

Yosemite Mtns

Top Trails to Hike at the Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park has 116 hard trails that range between 3.4 and 339.6 kilometers. The height above sea level of these trails is from 1167 to 4412 meters. In the USA, Yosemite is one of the parks with very beautiful hikes and landscapes. These trails lead you to some fascinating sceneries such as the Tuolumne Meadows. Below are the main Yosemite National Park trails:

1. Vernal & Nevada Falls through the Mist Trail

This is a loop trail that is 14.2 kilometers and heavily trafficked. It is located close to the Yosemite Valley and by hiking on it you gain an elevation of 668 meters hence it is rated as difficult. The trail features a waterfall and is best used between May and October for activities such as hiking and fascinating views.

2. Glacier Point Trail

Glacier Point Trail is just one kilometer long with an elevation gain of 51 meters only hence rated as easy and can be used by people of all ages and skill levels. It is best used between May and October mainly for hiking, snowshoeing, and nature trips.

3. Lower Yosemite Falls Trail

Lower Yosemite Falls Trail is a loop trail that is heavily trafficked and 1.9 kilometers in length with an elevation gain of 18 meters only. This means that it is very easy to hike through this trail and anybody regardless of age or skills can do it. It is located near Yosemite Valley and it features a lake. The trail is accessible throughout the year and is mainly used for walking. It only takes 28 minutes to do this trail.

4. Half Dome Trail

Half Dome Trail is a back trail that is heavily trafficked and has a length of 28 kilometers with an elevation gain of 1802 meters. The difficulty level of hiking through this trail is therefore rated as hard. The trail is located near Fish Camp and it features a waterfall. Half Dome Trail is mainly used for rock climbing and hiking, and it is recommended mainly for experienced adventurers. It takes you an estimated time of 11 hours round trip.

5. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail is a back trail that is 12.2 kilometers in length with an elevation gain of 985 meters and hence it is also rated as difficult. The trail features a waterfall and is mainly used for hiking. It takes you approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes round trip but it is recommended only for experienced adventurers.

6. Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls is a back trail that has a length of 6.4 kilometers and an elevation gain of 390 meters. The difficulty level of Vernal Falls Trail is hence rated as moderate. This trail is located near Yosemite Valley and it features a waterfall. The trail is best used between May and November primarily for hiking, nature trips, and walking.
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7. Four Mile Trail

Four Mile is a back trail where you cover a distance of 14.8 kilometers in approximately 6 hours and gain an elevation of 1101 meters. Thus the trail is rated as hard and only experienced adventurers are recommended. Four Mile Trail is located near Yosemite Valley and it features a waterfall. It is best used between April and November mainly for hiking and running.

8. Sentinel Dome Trail

Sentinel Dome Trail is 3.4 kilometers with an elevation gain of 139 meters hence rated as easy and anybody can use it. It features beautiful wildflowers and is best used between April and November mainly for hiking.

9. Clouds Rest Trail through Tenaya Lake

Clouds Rest Trail is 20.9 kilometers with an elevation gain of 949 meters hence it is rated as difficult. It is located near Yosemite Valley and features beautiful wildflowers. It is best used between March and October mainly for hiking, backpacking, and camping.

10. Vernal Falls & Clark Point through Mist & John Muir Loop

This trail is 6.8 kilometers with an elevation gain of 473 meters hence rated as difficult. It features a waterfall and is mainly used for hiking from April to October.

How Much Time Do You Need For Your Visit

Three days are ideal for you to see most of the important sights in Yosemite National Park. Within these three days, you can also take a few hikes and enjoy stunning views within the park. However, if you are short of time a quick overview of the main sights and views can be done in one day. If you are planning to spend one day, get into the park using the most scenic way where you can take classic pictures and have a panoramic view of most of the icons in Yosemite Valley. Also, within that same day, get to Glacier Point, Bridalveil Fall, Tunnel View, and Yosemite Village. If you have more than three days in Yosemite National Park, you can attend evening programs, enjoy every part of the Yosemite scenery, participate in ranger-led activities and take as many tours as you can.

Accommodations and Dining Near the Yosemite National Park

There are many lodges, restaurants, and hotels around Yosemite National Park where you can find accommodations and food. For accommodation, you can go to lodges such as Evergreen Lodge, Yosemite View Lodge, Rush Creek Lodge, Lake View Lodge, Mammoth Mountain Inn, and Juniper Springs Resort. There are also plenty of dining options in Yosemite National Park such as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel Dining Room, Yosemite Valley Lodge Mountain Room, and Big Trees Lodge Dining Room, to name a few.

Best Time to Visit Yosemite National Park

The Best time to visit Yosemite National Park depends on a couple of things such as accessibility to most parts of the park, how busy or crowded the park is, and the type of activities you want to be involved in while in the park. Between May and September, the park is not crowded and most parts and trails are easily accessible hence it is the best time that you can visit the park. Between October and March, there is snow in Yosemite National Park and hence most of the roads and trails in the park are usually closed.

Due to the closure of some roads and trails in some seasons, the park becomes so crowded during the summer season and hence you have to book for accommodation earlier enough and also arrive early into the park so that you have a parking lot for yourself. The most suitable time to view waterfalls in Yosemite National Park is between late May and early June. If you need to bargain on accommodations, then visit the park during the winter season.

What to Pack for Your Visit to the Yosemite National Park

In Yosemite National Park, the terrain is rough and the temperatures keep on changing. Due to these conditions and the activities that you plan to undertake in the park, it is good to carry some of the following things as you head there:

– Water shoes: These are essential when you are planning on activities such as river rafting and canoeing in rivers and waterfalls.

– Binoculars to see rock climbers and bears

– Waterproof, breathable, strong, and hard-soled hiking boots for maneuvering through the rough granite trails.

– A rain jacket to protect you from afternoon storms and the freezing temperatures after the rain.

– Enough drinking water to keep yourself hydrated throughout your exploration.

– A sun hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from sunburns.

– Plastic bags for carrying toilet paper since you are not allowed to bury toilet paper in Yosemite National park.

You might also like some of the articles from our website about boondocking and travel.

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9 Great Hiking Trails In Red Rock Canyon

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