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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Please Note

YosemiteSites is not affiliated with the National Park Service. Any advice expressed on this web page is mearly the opinion of a occasional visitor to the park, and should be verified by a park official if it seriously effects your travel plans.

Visiting Yosemite National Park

How do I reserve a campsite?

To make a reservation, visit the National Park Service home page, or call 1 (877) 444-6777.

How do I reserve a cabin or hotel?

Reservations for Curry Village and the Yosemite Lodge are run by Yosemite Concessions.

The availability graphs don't seem correct!

The graphs are updated every day. From time to time something goes wrong with the queries. If you think you have spotted an error please let me know by using the form at the end of the page. It would be great if you could include as much detail as you have, for instance which graph is wrong.

Complete list of Yosemite Campgrounds: [1]

Yosemite Valley Campgrounds
  • Upper Pines: open year round, reservations required; tents & RVs.
  • Lower Pines: open March - Oct, reservations required; tents & RVs.
  • North Pines: open April - Sept, reservations required; tents & RVs.
  • Sunnyside Walk In (Camp 4): open year round (no reservations needed; first come are first served); tents only.
Campgrounds Outside Yosemite Valley
  • Hodgdon Meadow (Hwy. 120 West near Big Oak Flat entrance): open year round, reservations required May - Sept; tents & RVs.
  • Wawona (Hwy. 41 in Wawona): open year round, reservations required May - Sept; tents & RVs.
  • Tuolumne Meadows (Hwy. 120 East): open July - Sept, 50% reservations, 50% first come are first served; tents & RVs.
  • Porcupine Flat (Hwy. 120 East): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & RVs.
  • Yosemite Creek (Hwy. 120 East): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & small RVs.
  • White Wolf (Hwy. 120 East): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & small RVs.
  • Tamarack Flat (Hwy. 120 East): open June - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & small RVs.
  • Crane Flat (Hwy. 120 near Tioga Road turnoff): open June - Sept, reservations required; tents & RVs.
  • Bridalveil Creek (Glacier Point Road): open July - early Sept, first come are first served; tents & RVs.

All the good sites are taken, what can I do?

There just aren't enough sites to go around. Here are my suggestions:
  1. Don't limit your search to the Valley. Crane Flat, Hodgdon Meadow, and Wawona are only a short drive from the Valley and in less demand. Availability for these camps are listed under "Proximity" on this web site.
  2. Check for cancellations. People are forced to reserve far in advance, and often cancel at the last moment. If you call or check the web on Thursday or Friday you can sometimes pick up a vacancy for the weekend.
  3. Try you luck with the walk in campgrounds. Camp 4 (aka Sunnyside) is in the Valley, and does not accept advanced reservations. Each morning at 7 or 8 am the rangers distribute any available sites on a first-come first-serve basis. There is often a line of seekers. Also consider the many first come first serve campgrounds outside the valley.
  4. Don't camp illegally. If you don't have a campsite, you will need to leave the valley. The rangers are skilled in discovering illegal campers, both in cars and behind rocks. The fines for even a first time offense are high (several hundred dollars) and you could spend the night in jail.

How much does it cost to camp in the Valley? [1]

Sites in Wawona, Hodgdon Meadows, Crane Flat, Tuolumne Meadows & at the Pines Campgrounds in Yosemite Valley are $18. Bridalveil Creek & White Wolf are $12. Tamarack Flat, Yosemite Creek & Porcupine Flat are $8. Backpacker Camps in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Hetch Hetchy & Camp 4 (Sunnyside) are $5. Group Camps are $40. Stock Camps are $25.

The Pines Campgrounds each accommodate up to six people and has space for two cars.

When can I book a site in the month of X?

The Park Service accepts reservations five months in advance, starting on the 15th of each month:

If you call on          You can make reservations with arrival dates between
January 15 January 16 - June 14
February 15 February 16 - July 14
March 15 March 16 - August 14
April 15 April 16 - September 14
May 15 May 16 - October 14
June 15 June 16 - November 14
July 15 July 16 - December 14
August 15 August 16 - January 14
September 15 September 16 - February 14
October 15 October 16 - March 14
November 15 November 16 - April 14
December 15 December 16 - May 14

How big are the bear boxes?

All food must be stored in bear boxes. Fixed metal boxes are provided at each campsite. They are approximately 3 feet deep, 3 feet wide, and 2 feet high.

Where can I find maps showing the site numbers and layout for each campsite?

Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines, Valley Floor, Entire Park.

Where can I find written descriptions for each campsite?

I've collected the brief descriptions that the Park Service uses for their sites here: Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines. I honestly don't know what all of the terms they use mean, so please don't ask. You may notice gaps in the numbering, this is because some sites have been removed over the years because they flood too often or because they are so close to the toilets or roads that its just no fun to camp in them.

Which is the best campground? Which site is the best?

It appears that Lower and North Pines are more desirable than Upper Pines, probably because they are smaller campgrounds. As far as which site is the best in any given camp, it's hard to say - I try to pick ones that are far from the bathrooms, and not two crowded. Check the maps.

Where can I learn more about fishing, hiking, riding, etc?

Have a look at John Rabold's Activity Listings.

Do I need a permit to camp in the wilderness?

Yes, a permit is required for overnight stays in the wilderness. Day hikers do not need one. All the details are here.

When do the cables go up on Half Dome?

It varies seasonally, but typically they go up mid-to-late May, or early June (they try to have them up by Memorial Day) and they come down around the first week in October.
If you need specifics, you can try calling the good folks below, but do let me know the answer and I will post it here so that we don't all call them (its not really their job!)
  • Yosemite Mountain School and Guide Service (209) 372-8435
  • Yosemite Mountaineering Shop (209) 372-8396

Where are other good resources on Yosemite?

An excellent FAQ can be found at YosemitePark.Net.
Several other quality resources are listed on the link page.

I plan to camp in a tent, but I have a trailer attached to my car. What type of site should I reserve?

Unless your trailer is very small it will not fit in the parking spaces allotted for standard tent sites, so you should reserve a trailer site. If there are none available, you could consider leaving your trailer parked near by, perhaps on the road where there is limited overflow parking, but rangers may or may not permit this. You will definitely not be permitted to sleep in your trailer if it is parked on the road.

Sometimes your web site shows an availability that isn't there in the reservation system. Why?

The graphs here are only updated three times a day, so it is entirely possible that someone else has already reserved the site. Sorry! Also, we only check tent site availability, so if you have an RV there will probably be fewer sites.

In the busy summer months it only takes a few minutes before a canceled site has a new owner, so short of having a real-time system with a live tie-in to the NPS there is almost no hope of this site always being correct.

More about this web site

Why does this site exist?

The web based interface provided by the Park Service great way to make reservations for a campgrounds that are mostly empty, but they don't make it easy to search for the one or two spots that may be available in a very busy campground like Yosemite. We've created tools to automate this search task, and made the results available to you here.

Where does this data come from?

The graphs are formed by making a number of queries to the standard interface at the NPS and parsing up the results. You could compile this same data yourself, but it's quite a hassle.

How often are the graphs updated?


What exactly do the green bars in the graphs mean?

Each bar represents the number of sites that are still available to reserve on that day. (Not to be confused with the total number of camp sites that exist in that campground, which are not plotted.)

Are you affiliated with the NPS?

No. We are mearly fellow visitors of the park, like you. We know how hard it is to find a campsite, and knew how to help, so we did.

How can I contribute to YosemiteSites?

If you've found this site helpful, consider tossing a buck in the tip jar! PayPal lets you use make a donation with your credit card. It only takes a minute, and of course it's secure.
If you would like to contribute your time, artistic talent (please!), web hosting, or kind words to this effort let us know!

How can I find the availability for trailer or RV campsites?

We currently only search based on tent camping.

YosemiteSites is not affiliated with the National Park Service, ReserveAmerica, or recreation.gov.
All content and data © YosemiteSites 2007-2011.