Yosemite National Park Travel Blog

 › entry 143 of 167 › view all entries

9.17.08 Yosemite


I spent the morning trying to find a Yosemite Campground.  It is *the* most competitive park in the entire National Park Service system for getting a campsite.  They state that “reservations are required” and a long conversation with a reservationist revealed that one campground had one site available for 9/21.  That’s it.  None others available. 


I guess I should have called 5 months prior at 7 am Pacific time since most days sell out within minutes of the window opening.  Yosemite has a whole different system for reserving campsites because it is so popular.  Their “General Info” phone system allows tracking to one source of info and then hangs up on you once the info is delivered.  It is quite a different system, but reading up on it last night made me understand all the many superlative natural resources that make that Park so popular.


We spent much time restocking today:  food, water, cash, gas, air in tires, etc.  Then we headed off into the wilderness toward Yosemite.  The road down Hwy 395 was really beautiful, like a 2-lane country road through farmland and across some mountain passes.  Really 395 is considered a larger “highway”, but I thought it was terrific. 


We arrived at the National Forest Visitor’s Center just 5 minutes before closing to locate info on Federal campgrounds near the east entrance of Yosemite.  A terrific source of information, they were staffed in a beautiful lodge overlooking the Mono Lake, a glacial lake with interesting geologic features.  The exhibits looked very interesting and I was sad they were closing.


With a goal of stopping at Junction Federal campground, just before the Yosemite entrance gate, we climbed up to 9900 feet elevation on Tioga Pass.  We accidently missed Junction Campground.  Suddenly, we were at Yosemite’s entrance!  They explained that we were a few miles past the Junction campground, but when asked if there was any chance of campsites in Yosemite, they really thought some were available 8 miles further in the park at Tuolumne Meadows. 


So we took our chances and this time, it paid off!  At 6 pm, we took one of just 15 remaining campsites at Tuolumne Meadows Campground!  After dinner, we walked around the campground – we saw at least 3 still available campsites that were indicated a 24’ maximum rig size, but clearly could take RV’s much longer than that. 


Also, outside the campground’s office was a status sign that 3 listed campgrounds as closed, 6 as full, and the 4 others (Tuolumne, Crane Flat, Tamarack Flat, and Porcupine Flat) had available space.  It also had stars for “reservations required” beside the Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines, Wawona, and another tent-only campgrounds.


So do not believe the website and worry that walk-in campsites are never available- they may be, particularly in September, mid-week.  Note that most of the campgrounds close at the end of September, as well as the east entrance road (Tioga Road) when snow arrives.  


The National Forest Ranger had indicated that Crane Flat Campground on Yosemite’s west side rarely fills, so he suggested we take the 2.5 hour Tioga Road across the park in the morning, secure a campsite, and then explore the valley.  I think it would be too presumptuous to expect to get a walk-in campsite in the North, Upper, or Lower Pines campgrounds in “the valley”, where all the Yosemite action is centered.  Perhaps the “reservation required” rule is stricter there. But we might just try! 


Today, we passed 15,000 miles on our trip!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!