Yosemite valley overnight accommodations (cabins, tent cabins, hotel rooms, campgrounds)

You have a number of lodging choices of where to stay overnight in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park (heated or unheated wood floored, canvas sided and roofed tent cabin / wood walled cabin without a bath / cabin with a bath / various designs of hotel rooms or campsites). The cost of overnight accommodations is not included in your park entrance fee and reservations (see links below) should be made well in advance.

(From the park website: “Within Yosemite National Park, you may not sleep in your car or RV except in a campsite that you’re registered to stay in (except at Camp 4, where sleeping in cars is not allowed because it’s a walk-in campground). Sleeping in your car along the side of the road is also not allowed.”)

Cell phone service is not available all over Yosemite valley, but is usually okay in the vicinity of the main visitor center. In June, 2017 and February / June, 2018 we got 4 bars for Verizon and 3 bars for AT&T near the main visitor center, versus 2 bars for each at the Majestic and 2 bars Verizon, 1 bar AT&T in Upper Pines campground, at the Yosemite Valley Lodge and Half Dome Village. The park service said: “Cell phone coverage in Yosemite is spotty . . . Cell service is often impacted during daily peak visitation by the large number of people trying to access limited service; if you have four bars of service, but you can’t get a signal, this is why . . . cell coverage depends on your phone, the cloud cover and other seemingly mysterious factors and is not always reliable. ”

Bears do break in to vehicles in Yosemite National Park (all year) and food storage rules apply all over the park, as in this sign at a day-use parking lot:

A sign that says: Proper food storage required. Bears frequent this area. Vehicles in violation may be impounded and the owner may be cited. All food must be stored properly including ice chests, containers, toiletries, and trash. DURING THE DAY. Store food in a food locker if possible. Close vehicle windows if food is in your vehicle. DO NOT leave food visible in your vehicle. DO NOT store food in open bed of a pickup truck. AFTER DARK. All food must be stored in a food locker. DO NOT store food in your vehicle. NO CAMPING OR SLEEPING IN VEHICLES

The resident Ravens will take any food you leave unattended on a picnic table. Keeping food within arm’s reach is a wise idea at each of the hotels and campgrounds. The park warns: “If your food is stored improperly, you will be cited for improper food storage (fine of up to $5,000).” See also an index to over a dozen park webpages with park laws, rules, regulations and policies.

Restaurants

The park service has “healthy food standards,” including that each “front country” restaurant includes lowfat and fat-free dairy, beverages with no added sugars, low sodium, whole grain, vegetarian food items. Seafood needs to be from “managed, sustainable, healthy” fisheries. Coffee should be Fair Trade.

See menus links at each lodge, hotel, etc. below and the various Yosemite Village restaurants, main store with prepared food items at shuttle bus stops 2 and 4.

Parking:

– – – – – – Whenever you park in an area you are not familiar with, take a photo on your smart-enough phone, standing a bit away from where you parked, so you can find your vehicle.- – – – – –

All campsites except in Camp Four and Backpackers walk-in have parking AT each campsite.

At the Lodge and Half Dome Village cabins with a bath there are some UN-assigned parking spaces near or next to most buildings.

A few of the Half Dome Village tent-cabins and most of the cabins with a private bath are very near potential parking spaces, but parking spaces might be occupied by someone else when you arrive.

At the Ahwahnee hotel (temporarily named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) there are some UN-assigned parking spaces (again that might be occupied by someone else when you arrive) and the hotel has bellmen/ valet parking at a drop off entrance (covered, out-of-the-weather) to the main building, but the cottages (AKA cabins, bungalows) are a walk out in the weather.

See details about parking in Yosemite without an overnight accommodation (day-use parking) at Parking and Traffic Jams in Yosemite Valley Tips and Tricks.

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tent cabins at Half Dome Village

– – – those without camping gear (or who just want to be more comfortable) might choose a wood-floored, canvas roofed/sided tent cabin, (optionally heated, but bring a sleeping bag, they have a few for rent but not that many) with various double bed and single bed combinations, electric lighting, but no phones, restroom/showers nearby, lounge with free guest WiFi. (Renting a tent cabin could be less expensive than renting a good tent and other required camping gear, especially in the winter.) The Half Dome village website did not mention that the heated tent cabins have electric outlets. I was told that yes, they do, but you have to unplug the heater fan to use the electric plug to, for example, charge your cell phone. From this description you can tell this will not be “glamping” – glamorous camping that some tent cabin accommodations outside of Yosemite offer.

Detailed instructions and advice for first time visitors using the tent cabins in cold weather.

Below (photo courtesy of the NPS) are some of the canvas tent cabins and a bear that broke into one people left food in. Always use the bearboxes provided at each tent cabin and campsite.

bear outside a canvas tent cabin

Below are Half Dome Village (Curry Village) canvas tent cabin interiors.

two beds, shelves and a chair in a canvas tent cabin

four people in a tent cabin playing cards

Here is a link to a map at their website, of all the tent cabins / cabins without a bath (in white) and wood walled cabins with a bath (in orange) /shower house/restrooms/pool/restaurants and more.

http://www.travelyosemite.com/media/524862/half-dome-village_property-map_web.jpg

Notice which tent cabins are right next to restrooms for convenience in the weather but potential noise all night, or which are actually a longer walk to restrooms.

Notice that tent cabins 1-9 are nearest to the bus stop for the free bus to the ski resort and nearest to the guest lounge, and notice that they are quite close to each other and to restrooms:

canvas tent cabins and a restroom building

Try to choose a tent cabin to ask for that does not have a potentially-noisy-any-time-of-the-day-or-night metal trash bin next to it:
row of canvas tents

and note which tent cabins are very close to each other, (and bring good quality earplugs):

row of backside of tent cabins very near each other

Some of the canvas tent cabins are heated and cost more. I was told that the unheated tents (with shared bathrooms/showers in the vicinity) are (on the map), 1-5, 466-482, 501-578, 601-691 & 701-752, and that the heated tents (with shared bathrooms/showers in the vicinity) are 6-9, 401-465, 214-299, 301-345.

Some tent cabins have trees for some shade, some do not:
tent cabins, some out in the open, some under trees

All the canvas tent cabins have bearboxes (food storage lockers).

Lots of details to make your stay in a tent cabin more fun are at: Yosemite valley tent cabins tips and tricks

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wood walled cabins without a bath at Half Dome Village

On the map, the boxes numbered in the 1100s (1101 – 1114) are wood walled cabins with two double beds, electrical outlets, and a small covered front porch you can stand on and shake water off your rain jacket, etc. before you enter the cabin.(shared restroom /showers very nearby).

small buildings and a picnic tablesmall room showing end of bed, chair and chest of drawersinterior of a small room showing two beds

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log and wood walled cabins with a bath at Half Dome Village

cabin with benches outside

are numbered 1A-22B on the map . They are in duplex and fourplex configurations and all share a wall with at least one other cabin, but they have more convenient (not-assigned) parking than the tent cabins and each has it’s own bathroom with a shower. No need for a bearbox (food storage locker) to store food, as you are allowed to keep food in these cabins, but please keep it away from view by a bear in the windows and do not leave out chips, boxes of crackers, etc. that mice could get into. (Suggest ice chests (no ice) with a heavy lid or plastic bins with lids that clip on.)

The layout on the map would make you think that the row of cabins at the back (orange boxes 17A to 22B) look out to the forest, but there is a row of cabins now only used for storage behind them that do not show on the map.

Note that at many of the lower cost units there is no room between at least one of the double beds and the wall.

hotel room with two double beds, one right next to the wall with no space to walk by

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‘Stoneman Cottage’ at Half Dome Village

has hotel-type rooms each with it’s own bathroom with a shower, with a wide roofed porch all the way around the building, see the green rectangle labeled Stoneman House at the map.

(Stoneman is on the right in the photo below behind the closest bus stop number 13b).

No need for a bearbox (food storage locker) to store food, as you are allowed to keep food in Stoneman House hotel rooms, but please keep it away from view by a bear in the windows and do not leave out chips, boxes of crackers, etc. that mice could get into. (Suggest ice chests (no ice) with a heavy lid or plastic bins with lids that clip on.)

roadway and bus stop, two buildings

Most of the Stoneman rooms have two double beds. Four of the Stoneman rooms (# 6, 8, 9 and 11) have two double beds downstairs and another double bed in an upstairs loft,

downstairs as seen from above:

two beds, door, windows

looking up the stairs from the lower level:

staircase, bathroom, loft wall

and the upstairs loft double bed:

bed and loft wall, edge of stairs

If you stuff the maximum number of people in one of these units, sharing the shower could be difficult, but the main shower house is a short walk away.

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Half Dome Village Cabin 819

with a bath and small living room/fireplace, separate bedroom, TV (?) was “historically renovated” through early 2018, including enlarging the bathroom. It is free-standing, sharing no walls with neighbors. Find it behind Stoneman Cottage.

No need for a bearbox (food storage locker) to store food, as you are allowed to keep food in 819, but please keep it away from view by a bear in the windows and do not leave out chips, boxes of crackers, etc. that mice could get into. (Suggest ice chests (no ice) with a heavy lid or plastic bins with lids that clip on.)

cabin with chairs on the front porch

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Half Dome Village general info

– – – COST and AVAILABILITY of all potential Half Dome Village overnight accommodations can be found at: http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/half-dome-village/

They recommend “ear plugs for additional sleeping support,” and a padlock for your food locker. Valuables should be stored in the mini-safe in the tent cabin, not in the food locker.

From their website with info about the food storage lockers: “Your Half Dome Village cabin comes with one locker measuring:

35.5″W x 20.5″D x 23″ H (Small Tent Cabins)

47.5″W x 20.5″D x 23″ H (Large Tent Cabins)

Guests who don’t comply with our food storage policies may receive a fine up to $5,000.00 and be removed from the Park. Vehicles used for food storage may be impounded.”

sign that says Half Dome Village registration parking 20 minutes only

On this map note the office you will check in at, the pink almost-square labeled “Front Office” , the registration parking lot with a time limit, and the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus stops 13b, 14 and 20.

map of Half Dome Village Yosemite June 2017

There are no TVs, phones or refrigerators at the Half Dome Village tent cabins, cabins with a bath or at Stoneman Cottage.

Free Wi-Fi for people staying at Half Dome Village is not in any individual overnight accommodation, only in the Guest Lounge which has lots of tables, chairs, desks and a fireplace in season (see the teal colored rectangle in the map above).

long roofed porch with rocking chairs and tables

couches, tables and chairs

Guests at Half Dome Village and people who are not guests at Half Dome Village can book a tour, pay to rent a bike or a raft (in warm months), or pay for winter ice rink use/ skate rental at the little Tour Kiosk between the front office and Stoneman Cottage near shuttle bus stop 13b.

If you want to rent a raft, rental reservations in advance are advised, up to 80% of rafts are reserved the day before. http://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/rafting/

The Bike Rental Pick Up area is to the west of the stores and food, north of the parking lot. This photo of bike rentals pick-up area is taken from the direction of the Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) guest parking lot.

rows of bikes and tent cabins behind

The permanent ice rink was removed winter 2016-2017 and replaced with a seasonally installed portable ice rink in the parking lot near stop 14, which promptly flooded in heavy rains and was closed, at first temporarily, then it did not reopen. It was moved back to it’s original location for winter 2017-2018. Sometimes when it first opens there are no lights for evening skating for awhile until they can be installed. Always subject to mechanical issues with the Zamboni. You buy tickets to ice skate, and if you need them, to rent skates (helmet is usually free), at the tour kiosk near the Half Dome Village room registration office (see map above). http://www.travelyosemite.com/winter/half-dome-village-ice-skating-rink/

A 365 day a year shower house and summer lifeguarded swimming pool are the right up the service vehicles only road from the parking lot. The map below shows bus stops 14 and 20, and the road to the shower house / pool:

map with a blue pool, bus stops and parking lot

The main shower house has blow dryers mounted on the walls, but you might want your own hair dryer.

Bring a couple of big plastic bags to keep shower spray off your clothes and towels.

two counters with sinksshower with a small seat just outside it for a bag

Some years the shower house has been closed for cleaning 10 – 11 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. to midnight.

The pool is open during warm months. Guests at Half Dome Village swim and use the main shower house for free and people who are not guests at Half Dome Village can swim in the pool and use the main shower house for a fee:
http://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/swimming/

large swimming pool with umbrellas and lounge chairs poolside

See also: Swimming in Yosemite National Park.

People who are not guests at Half Dome Village can dine there. Hours / basic descriptions of food services at the Pizza Deck, Coffee Corner, Half Dome Village Dining Pavilion, Meadow Grill, Chuck Wagon BBQ and Half Dome Village Bar (not all of which are open all year, opening and closing dates can vary depending, in part, on weather) can be found at: http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/dining/half-dome-village/

There is a small grocery store/gift shop.

and again, at their website, a map of Half Dome Village rentals & tour kiosk/pool/restrooms/grill and other dining/lounge/parking/cabins/tent cabins/Stoneman House:

http://www.travelyosemite.com/media/524862/half-dome-village_property-map_web.jpg

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Yosemite Valley Lodge

offers rooms with a bathroom, a TV (some with DVD player), phone, refrigerator, coffee maker, in two story buildings without elevators, most with either a balcony or private patio, as well as restaurants, a tour desk (and a swimming pool/bike rentals in the summer).

http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/yosemite-valley-lodge/ Look for pictures there of Lodge “family” rooms with bunkbeds with a double bed on the bottom and a single on top as well as a queen sized bed, dining table/chairs, couch. (Sometimes, if you book well in advance of our winter trip, or sometime at the last minute, some hotel rooms at the Lodge have been lower cost than Half Dome Village ‘Stoneman Cottage’ hotel-type rooms).

Map below courtesy of NPS

yosemite lodge map:

Map of Yosemite Lodge showing the swimming pool, bike rentals pick-up area, shuttle bus stop #8:

map with parking spaces, pool, buildings

See current larger map with the pool, restaurants, restrooms, ATM at:

http://www.travelyosemite.com/media/381353/yosemite-valley-lodge-property-map_web.jpg

and note that free shuttle bus Stop 7 is closer than stop 8 to the Yosemite Lodge hotel building Laurel)

Guests of the Yosemite Valley Lodge and people who are not guests at the lodge can rent a bike there in warm months. To pay and arrange for a rental go into the lobby and find the tour desk. Pick up the bike near the pool (see map above).

In warm months Yosemite Lodge guests swim (for free) and people who are not guests at the Lodge can swim in the lifeguarded pool for a fee:
http://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/swimming/ large swimming pool with lots of chairs around the deck

See also: Swimming in Yosemite National Park.

People who are not guests at the Yosemite Lodge can dine at the Mountain Room, Mountain Room Lounge, Starbucks (formerly the coffee corner) and Base Camp Eatery (formerly the Food Court). Menus for some of the restaurants are at:
http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/dining/yosemite-valley-lodge/

At the Base Camp Eatery (formerly Food Court on many maps) you order breakfast, lunch and dinner, including pizza, pasta, salads, burgers, noodle dishes, from a touch screen:touchscreen at Base Camp eatery

The Coffee Corner is now a Starbucks with the usual beverages / snacks.sign that says Welcome to Yosemite Starbucks

Cooking in/around Yosemite Lodge rooms is not allowed, but there is a picnic area, with picnic tables, fire grates, a swimming beach a short walk from the hotel, see map to Swinging Bridge at swimming in Yosemite National park and another nearby picnic area, with restrooms and picnic tables but without fire grates, across Northside Drive from the Lodge, about equidistant between bus stops 8 and 6.

There is a small grocery store/gift/souvenir shop.

Sometimes confused people with reservations for Yosemite View Lodge (which is outside of Yosemite National Park) have arrived at the front desk of Yosemite Valley Lodge, thinking that they had a reservation in Yosemite Valley. They are turned away when there are no reservations available in the valley for any lodging, which is frequent in warm months and holiday weekends.

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Ahwahnee Hotel (temporarily named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel)

offers rooms in the main building (multi story with elevators) or one story cottages (also know as cabins or bungalows) on the grounds, each room with a private bath, TV, phone, refrigerator, some with an adjoining parlor/fireplace room. There is a year-round heated outdoor swimming pool (no lifeguards, open only to guests of the hotel), morning coffee, afternoon cookies/tea, optional valet parking and optional bellmen to take care of your bags, gift/souvenir shop, restaurants / room service, small and large public lounges with and without fireplaces. The hotel has “electric vehicle charging stations in the hotel parking lot . . . one is a Tesla Motors charging station.” The Yosemite Valley free shuttle bus stops at the hotel at stop 3.

A photo of the Ahwahnee from Glacier Point, the dining room and kitchen take up the left wing you see below. The main entrance is on the far side of the right wing of the building:

hotel with cliffs and waterfall in distance

The huge balcony at the far end of the Ahwahnee from the parking lot is a part of the Presidential Suite (President Kennedy stayed in it) on the second floor. It has a parlor (room 232) with fireplace, a large balcony and can have 1 to 2 to 6 bedrooms included, all accessible to a can-be-made-private hallway to the parlor and balcony.

looking up at a balcony

looking down on a large balcony

living room with desk, table chairs

edge of fireplace, couch, cabinet

The south end of the Ahwahnee hotel, (including the Presidential suite) under construction, upper Yosemite Fall in the background (photo courtesy of the NPS historical photos collection:

building partially built, waterfall well behind it

A large third floor parlor (room 332) with fireplace, but no balcony, (above the Presidential Suite), can have 1 or 2 to 4 bedrooms included with it.

The view down from 332 to the 232 balcony:
balcony and two chairs from floor above

From the hotel website: “The El Dorado Diggins Suite was at one time a private dining room, a cocktail lounge, and a chapel in the 1940s,” The living room space is step down from the wide entry hall with a slate floor. (Room 118)

One of the main building ADA suites has a balcony it does not share with any other room:

balcony railings and chairs

Almost all the main building rooms do not have a patio or balcony (almost all of the Yosemite Lodge rooms do have patios or balconies).

Standard rooms are smaller than other rooms, cost less, but most in the main building have cliff and loading dock views and one has no view at all. Most rooms are called Classic rooms. A few rooms are called Featured, each with a (various sizes, often shared) balcony. Featured room 417 has it’s own, small, private balcony.

Featured room 417 has it’s own, small, private balcony:balcony with a fabric shade

Accessible rooms have widened doors, grab bars in the bathroom, (some) roll-in shower, raised toilet seats and low density carpet.

24 cottages / (bungalows) are in one story buildings out on the grounds of the hotel, a short or long walk out in the weather.

bed, side tables and wall lamps

sink and wall mirror, doorway to tub and shower

Two of the Classic Cottages are ADA (702, 703).

Classic and Featured cottages have their own patios. Standard cottage rooms (720, 721, 722, 723) share their patio with another unit. Two of them have almost no closet space.

Four (#710, 711, 717 and 718) of the classic cottages have an alcove just off the bedroom with a bed you can fit a child on, and a door between the bedroom and alcove for privacy.

bed with doorway to right

bed tucked along wall

Featured cottage #714 has a generous sized patio with a view through the trees up towards Glacier Point. In the photo below 714 is in the center, a corner window of Classic cottage 711 is on the left and a corner window of Classic cottage 713 is on the right:

hotel cottage building with large patio in front

See pictures of newly remodeled Majestic Hotel rooms at:

https://www.travelyosemite.com/news/2018/the-majestic-yosemite-hotel-remodel/

Details are at: http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/the-majestic-yosemite-hotel/

All the Majestic Yosemite Hotel rooms, in the main building or in the cottages (aka cabins, bungalows) out on the grounds have large screen televisions. They have an in-house TV channel that plays videos from the Yosemite Conservancy Nature Notes series, and you can watch them at:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL890957589F8403A4

This is where we often go Sunday for brunch.

People who are not guests at the hotel can dine there. Reservations are often advised and there is a dress code for some dining room meals.

24 foot high ceiling, tables, chairs and tall windows

The bar has a limited menu, but without the dress code for dinner that the main dining room often has.

Menus for the dining room (including the Sunday Brunch) and bar are at: http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/dining/the-majestic-yosemite-hotel/

See also an Ahwahnee hotel map for directions to the hotel and the covered entrance.

Anywhere in Yosemite, including at any of the Yosemite lodgings, you have the possibility of seeing animals, such as this bobcat on the grounds (cottage rooms area) of the Ahwahnee (temporarily named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel), a large reason why Yosemite park says: “pets must be restrained on a leash not more than six feet long or otherwise physically restrained.”

of an Ahwahnee cottage, photo by Alan  Ahlstrand

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Housekeeping Camp

Is usually open, more or less, April to October, weather permitting, with “three-sided concrete structures with canvas roofs and privacy curtains . . . a bunk bed, a double bed, table, chairs, mirror, electrical lights and outlets. Two additional cots can be added to any unit” . . . each with “campfire ring with a grill grate and a bear-proof food storage locker. . . NOTE: Please do not bring space heaters, as they can cause a power outage in your Housekeeping Unit.” “Guests can rent sheets, blankets, pillows, chairs, cribs, cots and stoves for their stay at Housekeeping Camp.” “Please note there are no telephones or TV’s.”

canvas roof, picnic table and campfire ringone double bed, shelves and twin bunk beds

There are showers and a laundromat – the laundromat is usually open through the winter even when housekeeping units are not open. To find the laundromat, bear left when you enter the Housekeeping parking lot. There are no TVs, phones or WIFI in the units and there are no restaurants onsite.

They recommend “ear plugs for additional sleeping support,” and a padlock for your food locker. “When the sun sets, Half Dome Village becomes quite dark, with no streetlamps or outdoor lights, so flashlight or headlamps are necessary.” Wise people know that their cell phone will not function long enough or bright enough after dark as a flashlight (electric torch).

Photos and details about quiet hours, wood campfire hours, camp rules, reservations are at: https://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/housekeeping-camp/

Expect more crowded conditions on the beaches at Housekeeping Camp than those in this early-in-the-day photo of the biggest beach:

river with rafters going by a beach

Map showing Housekeeping Camp, the biggest beach, the pedestrian bridge over the river to other swim beaches, (as well as the laundromat and showers):

http://www.travelyosemite.com/media/330396/housekeeping-camp-property-map_web.pdf

On the map above, notice the pedestrian bridge across the river next to units 48/47 you can use to go to this beach:

sandy beach and river

See details about swimming in the river at: swimming in Yosemite including thunderstorms, bacteria in the water, safety issues, favorite beaches, swimming pools with lifeguards that are open to the public.

If they are available, you can reserve a (near the) river-side unit when you make your reservation. Take a look at the map and notice that if you rent two near-the-river, back-to-back units, away from the main beach, such as 391/392, you might have a little more privacy:

canvas sided unit near river in foreground

Housekeeping Camp is across the road from free Yosemite Valley Shuttle bus stop number 12.

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Camping in Yosemite Valley campgrounds that take reservations

map of Pines Campgrounds (Upper Pines, Lower Pines and North Pines) and free shuttle bus stops 15, 18 and 19. (Upper and Lower River Campgrounds no longer exist, due to flooding and have been ecologically restored.)

Info about getting a reservation for a Yosemite campsite (in the valley or elsewhere in the park), camping regulations and more starts at:
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

Answers to frequently asked questions are at:
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/campingfaq.htm
such as “In May and June, why are so many campsites in North Pines and Lower Pines not available for reservation?

Spring floods are common in Yosemite Valley in May and June, with portions of Lower Pines, and, especially, North Pines Campgrounds becoming inundated. As a result, we don’t make the affected campsites available for reservation until we are sure the river will be at a safe level. Depending on conditions, these campsites may be available for reservation a few weeks (less likely) or just a few days (more likely) in advance via recreation.gov. If water levels are high, these sites may only be available in the park on a first-come, first-served, daily basis.”

The park has this warning for people with RVs/trailers choosing campsites: “RV length and trailer length are not the same! Please note that many campsites have different maximum lengths for RVs and trailers. This is because many of the campsites are back-in sites with limited turning radius. We do not enforce the length limits as long as the RV or trailer can fit on the parking pad in the site. However, if you reserve a site for equipment other than what you bring, and the site can’t accommodate your RV or trailer, we will not be able to find a different campsite for you.” There is also advice for driving / parking RVs & trailers at Parking and Traffic Jams in Yosemite valley tips and tricks.

This next info is mostly about camping in Upper Pines campground, but a lot of it applies to other valley campgrounds – – – for our winter trips the lowest cost overnight accommodation is camping overnight in Upper Pines Campground, (the only campground open in the winter with individual campsites with parking spaces).

You make reservations for Yosemite campgrounds up to 5 months in advance. For example, for camping January 15 through February 14 2019, the date to try to get a reservation was September 15, 2018.

Each campsite ($26 per night in late 2018) holds six people and two vehicles. But sometimes in the winter the campsite parking spaces are not plowed of snow well enough for two vehicles to park, especially two SUVs. This is fine with one SUV with six people in it, but many people will want to drive in two-people-per-vehicle carpools. They could possibly fit more people sleeping overnight (strictly enforced rules of maximum 6 people per campsite) and save money by paying for fewer campsites, by having some of those who want to drive in small carpools drop of their gear at the site and use free day-use parking for the extra vehicles. Maybe the car that gets to park at the site could pay a larger share of the campsite cost. The nearest free parking lot is next to parking for Half Dome Village, a relatively short walk from the campground or a free daytime bus ride.

chocolate cake for breakfast:

Each Pines campgrounds campsite has a metal food storage box you must use for all food/toiletries , a picnic table, fire ring, (yup, you guessed it, no WiFi, sometimes not even on your smart-enough-phone that is not getting reception in much of Yosemite valley). Each campsite loop has nearby restrooms.

In the pictures below, the Yosemite restroom building has men’s and women’s restrooms on either end and a center room with a basin for waste water disposal. See Have More Fun Camping.

Yosemite campground restroom: waste water sign:

In the winter showers are at Half Dome Village, the Housekeeping Camp showers are closed. Camping solutions for women.

430 a.m. snowfall 2011: big snowflakes are seen falling, lit up by camera flash in front of tent

(Photo taken at 4:30 a.m. when it had been raining, but then it got colder and rain turned to snowflakes the size of fifty cent pieces, captured by the camera flash. One woman sleeping in the tent above on the 2011 trip had never been camping before. Another on the trip had never seen snow fall.)

Please note that no pets are allowed on our trips, but dogs are allowed in all campgrounds except group sites and Camp Four (but check for the most current rules when you make a reservation). There are no hook-up campsites for motor homes.

Occasionally on our winter trips we have had snow followed by rain and parts of the campground flood:

bear box and picnic table with snow on top, water below

and you will want to have taken a look in advance at other accommodations to retreat to.

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Camping in the Yosemite Valley campground that is first-come, first-served – – Camp Four

(From the park website: “Within Yosemite National Park, you may not sleep in your car or RV except in a campsite that you’re registered to stay in (except at Camp 4, where sleeping in cars is not allowed because it’s a walk-in campground). Sleeping in your car along the side of the road is also not allowed.”)

Camp Four “is extremely popular; it’s very difficult to get a spot.”

rows of tents and bearboxes

Camp Four has shared campsites and shared food lockers. See map of Camp 4, with a link to how to get a campsite at Camp 4 once you get to the park, the location of each of the campsite and of the trailhead for the Upper Yosemite Falls hike as well as the location of the largest boulder within the campground, Columbia Boulder, (or Big Columbia), which has the “world’s most famous boulder problem” – the route named “Midnight Lightning.”

(As of fall 2017: “the (Camp Four) parking lot is being expanded, bringing the capacity to 130 vehicles . . . A new comfort station is also being constructed in which showers will be included. This will be the first park campground that will provide shower facilities for people staying in the campground.” As of the start of 2019 it looked mostly finished.)

There is fascinating reading on how Yosemite climbers can avoid injuries/stay alive, by Search and Rescue (SAR) Ranger John Dill, (including sections on environmental dangers, descents, big wall bivouacs, unplanned bivouacs, loose rock, climbing unroped, leading, falling, learning to lead, the belay chain, helmets, states of mind, rescues, and risks, responsibility and the limits of climbing), at: https://www.friendsofyosar.org/climbing

and read about climbing regulations, the reasons behind them and practical advice on how to follow the rules, including fixed ropes, permits and sleeping on big walls, food storage, trash and human waste while climbing, bouldering, slacklining, and bolting ethics at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/climbing_regulations.htm

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Camping without a reservation: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/nrcamping.htm

Outside of Yosemite valley there are many campgrounds open in the summer that are first-come-first-served (and some take reservations):

Bridalveil Creek (RVs up to 35 feet/trailers up to 24 feet)

(Please note that Bridalveil Creek campground is up the Glacier Point road, nowhere near Bridalveil fall.)

Tamarack Flat (not recommended for RVs/trailers)

White Wolf (RVs up to 27 feet/trailers up to 24 feet)

Yosemite Creek (not recommended for RVs/trailers)

(Please note that Yosemite Creek campground is up the Tioga road, nowhere near Yosemite fall.)

Porcupine Flat (not recommended for RVs/trailers)

Tuolumne Meadows (RVs and trailers up to 35 feet; 50% of sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis)

and see: Tuolumne Meadows group campsites map and pictures

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tent, bearbox, firering and  picnic table, restrooms in background

Camping in backpacker’s walk-in

People at the valley backpacker’s walk-in (for camping the night before and/or after a backpack trip, wilderness permit required, are told “you may park for 15 minutes at the entrance to the backpackers’ campground” (in the back of North Pines Campground, only a few spaces, sometimes filled) to unload gear, and then walk back out and “park overnight at the trailhead parking or at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) day use parking.”

In spring in snowy years, the trail from the back end of North Pines (and over the footbridge) to the backpacker’s walk-in can be flooded with ankle deep or deeper water.

You might find it more convenient to park as directed at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) day use parking, grab your gear and make sure that in your vehicle there is no food / toiletries / scented fish bait / old french fries under the seats, get on nearby shuttle bus stop 20, then get off at the Ahwahnee (Majestic) stop #3, (maybe making a stop at the largest Yosemite Valley grocery at shuttle bus stop 2 on the way). You will find it is a slightly shorter walk from the Majestic (Ahwahnee) bus stop through the parking lot, and Valet parking lot, then make a left and along a back road to backpacker’s walk-in campground than from the back end of North Pines IF you can find the way on the back road, but you have a topo map, Yosemite Valley map in the park newspaper, right? And you won’t need to move your vehicle back and forth.

The Majestic (Ahwahnee) shuttle bus stop would also be a much shorter bus ride from backpackers walk-in to and from the main store, the cafeteria at the Lodge or to visit friends at Camp Four.

Hmmmmm, and the Ahwahnee (currently named the Majestic) has a bar without the dress code of the formal dining room that you might want to visit. Menus for the dining room and the bar are at: http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/dining/the-majestic-yosemite-hotel/ A map of the premises is at: Ahwahnee map.

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Notes about Yosemite Valley free shuttle bus stops for overnight accommodations to save you time.

Half Dome (Curry) Village canvas tent cabins numbered in the 1100s, 700s and 600s are closer to stop 15 than to the Half Dome (Curry) Village stops #14 and #20. Half Dome (Curry) Village canvas tent cabins numbered 1- 9 and all of the wood cabins (numbered with a letter after the number, such as 1D, 8A or 22B) are closer to stop 13B than to the Half Dome (Curry) Village stops #14 and #20.

Yosemite Lodge building Laurel is closer to the Camp Four / Lodge day-use parking bus stop #7 than the official Yosemite Lodge stop #8. Buildings Tamarack, Dogwood, Aspen, are about equal distance to the Lower Yosemite Falls stop #6.

map of pines campgrounds

Campers in Upper Pines campground in the higher numbered campsite loops (188 – 240 and 158 to 187) will find that it is a much shorter walk from the Happy Isles stop 16 to their campsite than from the official Upper/Lower Pines campground stop(s) 15/19 at the west end of the campground. This makes these campsites the best for a short walk back after a Half Dome or Mist Trail hike that took a bit longer than you expected and ended after the buses are running.

Campers in the lower half of Upper Pines and all of Lower Pines will find the stop at #15 gets them to their campsite faster than riding all the way to Happy Isles, the stop at the end of the road to Mirror Lake, past North Pines then finally getting off at the #19 stop at the entrance to Lower Pines.

(If you are heading into Upper Pines from stop 15, please don’t walk right through Upper Pines campsites 26, 27, 28 etc, at the end of the first loop after you get off the bus, please walk between the campsites and/or around the ends of the loops.)

Campers in the higher numbered sites in Lower Pines (60s 70s, 80s, etc.) will often find when there are lines for and waits for space on the buses at Half Dome (Curry) Village, it is more pleasant (and sometimes faster) to walk to their sites, using the boardwalk across Stoneman Meadow.

moving rainbow line:

moving rainbow line:

the Yosemite National Park entrance fee, effective June 2018, will be $35 per vehicle or $20 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $70.

OR

a (National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands) Interagency annual pass is $80, valid for 2,000 federal recreation sites / National parks: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm

OR

someone who is a U.S. military dependent and has their Dependent ID Card (form 1173) and can get a free national parks pass http://store.usgs.gov/pass/military.html

(The passes can’t be transferred/shared, the pass holder needs to be in your vehicle and show a photo ID.)

“80 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to spending that supports the visitor.” The https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/fees.htm park entrance fee which addresses “many important maintenance and infrastructure needs,” covers your entrance into the park for your choice of payment for a length of time and size / type of vehicle, free parking at the various day use parking lots, use of trails / visitor centers, Ranger programs, walks, talks (but not fee based programs by park concessionaires, see lists of dates/times of each in the park newspaper).

Your park entrance fee does not cover the cost of your campsite or overnight accommodation.

See more information and current prices / info about annual passes to all National Parks (or just to Yosemite), passes for seniors, free passes for military, free access (permanent disabilities) passes, some of which “may provide a 50 percent discount on some amenity fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services.” https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm

moving rainbow line:

moving rainbow line: