Between sky-high sequoias and glorious glacier-cut mountains, millions of visitors flock to Yosemite National Park’s ample lodging and camping opportunities, hoping to chase vistas and conquer summits.
Yosemite derives much of its beauty from the landscape that resulted from surrounding glaciers coming in contact with the underlying rocks. The national park is home to numerous iconic landmarks, including the often pictured Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite Falls, Vernal and Nevada Falls, Bridalveil Fall, Half Dome, the Clark Range and the Cathedral Range. The most notable characteristic of Yosemite’s geological makeup is the smooth, glacially-polished granite that visitors can frequently find while exploring jagged cliffs and rushing waterfalls.
With 748 acres situated along the central western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, the NPS deems Yosemite, “Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.”
Traditional Camping at Yosemite National Park
Besides having a front-row seat to the park’s best views, the greatest perk of traditional camping in Yosemite is the chance to see the vast amount of wildlife that calls the High Sierra home. With so many rocky edges and peaks, the area is also home to quite a few talented climbers, like bighorn sheep and mountain lions. At night, if you turn your head to the night sky, you might catch a glimpse or hear the soft flutter of the wings of one of Yosemite’s 19 species of bats.
There are a total of 13 campgrounds within Yosemite National Park to accommodate the 3.29 million visitors that it saw just last year. Of course, not everyone pulled out a tent or hitched their trailer to the grounds, but there were enough traditional campers to temporarily shut down seven of the campgrounds this year for rehabilitation purposes. Because of this, we’ve omitted Bridalveil, Tuolumne Meadows, Tamarack Flat, Crane Flat, Yosemite Creek, White Wolf and Porcupine Flat from the list of Yosemite campgrounds.
With more than half of its campgrounds temporarily unavailable, it’s likely that reservations for open sites will fill up faster than usual, so be sure to book your stay as soon as you can and try to have a backup option if your first pick for a campground is already full.
For those that prefer camping in primitive areas, Yosemite National Park also has backcountry campsites in Little Yosemite Valley as well as near the High Sierra Camps.
Yosemite Valley Campgrounds
- Location: Upper Pines Campground, Yosemite National Park, CA, 95389
- Price: $36 per night
- Number of sites: 238
- Months open: year-round
- Nearby attractions: Mist Trailhead, Emerald Pool, Vernal Falls, Mt. Broderick, Lost Lake, Nevada Fall, Nature Center at Happy Isles, Clark Point
- Reserve an Upper Pines Campground site here
- Location: Lower Pines Campground, 9000 Southside Dr, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389
- Price: $36 per night
- Number of sites: 60
- Months open: April 14 to October 23
- Nearby attractions: Mirror Lake Trailhead, Iron Spring, Washington Column
- Reserve a Lower Pines Campground site here
- Location: North Pines Campground, 9024 Southside Dr, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389
- Price: $36 per night
- Number of sites: 81
- Months open: April 11 to October 23
- Nearby attractions: Royal Arch Creek, Tenaya Creek, Tenaya Canyon
- Reserve a North Pines Campground site here
- Location: Camp 4, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389
- Price: $10 per person per night
- Number of sites: 61
- Months open: year-round, not pet-friendly
- Nearby attractions: Yosemite Falls Trailhead, Midnight Lightning climbing site, Swan Slab, Yosemite Falls, Columbia Rock, Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, Four Mile Trailhead
- Reserve a Camp 4 site here
Campgrounds South of Yosemite Valley
- Location: Wawona Campground, Wawona, CA 95389
- Price: $36
- Number of sites: 93
- Months open: season begins April 28, closing date TBD
- Nearby attractions: Rush Creek, Wawona Meadow Trail, Chilnualna Falls Trailhead, Big Creek
- Reserve a Wawona Campground site here
Campgrounds North of Yosemite Valley
Hodgdon Meadow Campground
- Location: Hodgdon Meadow Campground, Big Oak Flat Rd, Groveland, CA 95321
- Price: $36
- Number of sites: 105
- Months open: season begins April 11, closing date TBD, reservations required April 11 to October 23
- Nearby attractions: Carlon Falls, Carlon Falls Trail, Big Oak Flat Information Station, Merced Groves Trailhead, Dead Giant Tree Tunnel, Crane Flat Lookout, Tuolumne Grove Trailhead
- Reserve a Hodgdon Meadow Campground site here
Glamping and Cabin Rentals at Yosemite
Sometimes, you need a middle ground between traditional camping and lodging – a venue that gives you some creature comforts without separating you too far from the natural elements of Yosemite. At the national park, you can find this middle ground with the national park’s glamping and cabin rentals.
High Sierra Camps
There are a total of five camps at High Sierra, each of which has at least eight cabins. Here, amenities range from flush toilets to showers and laundry appliances. There’s also a wide range of attractions nearby. At Glen Aulin, you have direct access to a waterfall and pool on the Tuolumne River. Meanwhile, at Sunrise, the high altitude gives you optimal views of Mt. Florence and Mt. Clark as well as a few vigorous hiking trails close by.
Whether you choose to spend your time at the High Sierra Camps fishing, hiking, swimming or wildlife watching, you’ll need to be prepared for a hike to the cabins from the parking lot. At locations like May Lake, this is only a brief mile walk to the camp. But at Vogelsang, be ready to hike seven miles before reaching your home for the next few nights. The seclusion and immersion into Yosemite’s wildest parts are well worth the trek, but you may want to consolidate your luggage before embarking on the trail.
If the distance from the High Sierra Camps to the parking lot makes you nervous, you might want to consider the Housekeeping Camp instead. With 266 units, this camp has plenty of room to accommodate families and groups of all sizes. Each standard glamping tent sleeps six campers. Amenities include bunk beds, double beds, a table, chairs, mirror, electrical outlets and lights. You can also choose a river unit that boasts the same equipment as the standard unit but with the added bonus of waterfront views.
Lodging and Luxury Living at Yosemite National Park
There’s no crime in wanting a little luxury while lodging at Yosemite. You may not see quite as much wildlife or stars at night, but for those that need temperature control and indoor plumbing, the trade-off is worth it.
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Located close to Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley Lodge optimizes the beauty of its surroundings with plenty of windows that give lodgers optimal views of the surrounding tall pines, rushing waterfalls and rocky cliffs. Starting at $288 per night, the lodge has 245 rooms that can accommodate couples, families and those with disabilities. Inside, there are several dining options, including a Starbucks for travelers that can’t start the day without a latte. The lodge also provides an outdoor swimming pool and bike rentals. And, to remember your trip for years to come, you can also check out the gift shop.
Even more glamorous than the lodge is The Ahwahnee, located right beside the Royal Arches and the Washington Column. With suites, parlors and cottages, groups of all sizes can book a stay at The Ahwahnee, starting at $589 a night.
Amenities for this lavish venue include a heated swimming pool, lounge with fireplaces and ample seating, a top-notch bar, dining options for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as sweets and gift shops.