Thinking about a Yosemite National Park camping trip? If you are, get your facts about Yosemite here first and plan accordingly.
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About Yosemite National Park Camping: Quick Facts
Yosemite National Park Facts
Perhaps the greatest charm that Yosemite has is the uniqueness of its geologic features. In fact, there is no other place on earth where you can see such features.
There are so many gigantic granite rock formations carved into dramatic shapes by glaciation. Right in the middle of it all is a beautiful valley where numerous waterfalls flow into two rivers.
Indeed, the Yosemite park is definitely a must-see. But, before you do, try to know more than just a thing or two about the Yosemite:
- The Yosemite park was established on October 1, 1890.
- Yosemite National Park is close to the city of Mariposa, California.
- Close to 4 million people come to see the national park every year.
- Yosemite covers 1,200 square miles of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
- Yosemite Valley is where you can find the world's largest exposed granite monolith: El Capitan.
- The name Yosemite (yohhe'meti, “they are killers”) is said to have been used by the Miwok, a Native American tribe, to call the Ahwahneechee, the local tribe which the former considered violent.
- Five hundred Sequoia trees considered the world's largest living things, are in Yosemite.
- The mountains in the Yosemite park continue to grow at a rate of 1 foot per millennium.
- Because of the great number of rock formations, Yosemite is a rock climber's paradise.
- Wildlife in the Yosemite park includes black bears, bighorn sheep, peregrine falcons, coyotes, mountain lions, and golden eagles.
- In addition to the popular Giant Sequoias, the California Black Oak, Dog Wood, and Mariposa Lily are part of Yosemite's fauna.
Preparing for a Yosemite National Park Camping Trip
It is always a good idea to go Yosemite camping, but there are several things you need to be ready for as you plan the activity. Yosemite occupies a large area with many different terrain and elevations as well as plenty of wildlife. They are all protected, too.
Read and learn as much as you can about the rules and regulations in Yosemite. It's always best to prepare and here are some things you need to know.
Yosemite National Park Weather
The weather in Yosemite can vary greatly because of its sheer size and the many elevations. As a result, the conditions in Yosemite Valley can be different from those in the Half Dome.
It is important to note that the elevation can be as low as 2,000 feet and as high as 13,000. If you are going on a Yosemite National Park camping trip, you'll want to know what the conditions are.
So check out the weather forecast on the campground of your choice.
You can make and receive calls as well as connect to mobile data (3G and 4G) in some sections of Yosemite Valley. The same is true with Tuolumne Meadows although the data connection is slower (EDGE).
Voice calls can also be made at El Portal, Tuolumne, and Wawona Meadows, but data service may not be that fast.
Yosemite National Park camping will surely be a fun activity because you are spoilt for choice when it comes to campgrounds with 13 to choose from. Some of them are reservable, while others have a first-come, first serve policy.
Peak season starts April until October so make reservations as early as you can. Even first-come, first-serve camping areas are filled early every day during that period.
Bears and Food
With around 400 bears in the Yosemite park, visitors are not allowed to feed these wild animals. Recently, it had become evident that the bears have become conditioned to eating camp food.
This behavior has proven to be more dangerous to both man and beast. The bears become more aggressive to the point where they get put down to protect humans.
Due to the increasing and alarming frequency of incidents, Yosemite Park has become very strict with food storage.
Anyone caught violating the federal law on storing food properly will have their food or car impounded. Camping permits are also revoked or worse pay a fine as much as $5,000.
You can bring your pets along in Yosemite, but only in the developed areas, bike paths, sidewalks, paved roads, and all campgrounds.
Also, with the exception of group campsites and Camp 4. Your pet must be on a leash and has to be attended to.
What to Pack for a Yosemite National Park Camping Trip
- Tent skates
- Easy up
- Sleeping bag
- Air mattress
- Pump for an air mattress
- Sleeping pad/self-inflating mattress
- Water container/jug (2-3 gallon minimum)
- Fuel for stove
- Trash bags
- Dutch oven
- Oven mitt
- Can opener
- Aluminum foil
- Paper towels
- Dishwashing soap
- Dirty dish bucket
- Cutting board
- Folding table
- Ziplock bags
- Coolers (1 for food, 1 for Beverages)
- Olive oil/cooking oil
- Coffee pot/percolator
- Coffee cups
- Camp kitchen
- Shaving cream
- Toilet paper
- Additional lenses
- Backup batteries
- DC/AC converter to charge batteries
- Additional memory
- Video camera
- External hard drive
- Flash equipment
- Remote camera trigger
- Lens cleaning kit
- Gas for lantern
- Extra mantles
- Extra batteries
- Lantern Hanger
- Baby wipes
- Family radios
- Pocket knife
- Bungee cords
- Canteen/water bottle/Camelback
- Toys for kids
- Small shovel
- Bug repellant
- Camp chairs
- Reading material
- Newspaper (for firestarter)
- Trail guides/hiking guides
- Jiffy Pop
- Hershey bars/Graham crackers/chocolate bars
- AC converter extension cord
- Tent light
- Glow sticks
- Tent repair kit
- Trail mix/snacks
- Hiking poles
- Hiking boots/shoes
- Rain gear
- Water shoes/flipflops/Tevas
What to Do in Yosemite National Park
Now that you've prepared and packed for your trip, it's time to explore some of Yosemite Park's beautiful sights. Here are some of our favorites, along with highly recommended activities.
1. Glacier Point
Glacier Point is considered one of the best and most comprehensive lookouts in Yosemite park. It's also one of the highest points, featuring views of Yosemite landmarks like the Half Dome or the floor of Yosemite Valley. (via usnews.com)
2. Yosemite Falls
Discover the highest waterfall in North America – and the sixth largest in the world: Yosemite Falls.
At 2,424 feet, the waterfall is a major attraction in the park, located in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range of California (via travelchannel.com)
3. Half Dome
Though its origins are mythical, there's no doubt that Half Dome is Yosemite's most distinctive natural monument.
It is 87 million years old and has a 93% vertical grade – the sheerest cliff in North America. (via lonelyplanet.com)
4. Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake is a magnificent High Sierra lake surrounded by granite domes, lodgepole forests, and Yosemite’s vast wilderness.
It is the largest lake in Yosemite’s front country. (via nps.gov)
5. Mariposa Grove
Walk among giants in Wawona at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
At the grove, you have two choices for exploring: a narrated, open-air tram tour or a meandering, self-guided hike. (via sunset.com)
6. Crane Flat
Crane Flat is a pleasant forest and meadow area located 16 miles (30 minutes) from Yosemite Valley. Nearby are the Tuolumne and Merced Groves of Giant Sequoias, which are only accessible by foot.
Crane Flat is accessible by car all year, though. A snow play area is also open during winter. (via nps.gov)
7. Hetch Hetchy Valley
The Hetch Hetchy Valley is one of Yosemite’s hidden jewels.
Formed millions of years ago by water and glacial erosion, this stunning valley (half the size of Yosemite Valley) was described by naturalist John Muir as “a grand landscape garden, one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” (via evergreenlodge.com)
8. Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp
Glen Aulin is one of the easiest camps to hike to as the trail from Soda Springs follows the Tuolumne River and its meadows most of the way. The camp is set alongside the 80 ft. high White Cascade and its lovely pool. (via yosemitepark.com)
9. El Capitan
3,000 vertical feet of sheer rock granite, El Capitan is a beacon for visitors, a muse for photographers and one of the world’s ultimate challenges for climbers.
What is the best time to see it? Any day of the year. Best view? Inspiration Point by foot. (via yosemiteexperience.com)
10. Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is at the center of most visitor activity in Yosemite National Park. The Merced River flows across the Valley's flat floor at an elevation (altitude) of 4,000 feet (1220m) above sea level.
The Valley is surrounded by steep, almost vertical, granite cliffs, including the El Capitan monolith, Glacier Point, and Half Dome. Major waterfalls tumble into the Valley, the most prominent of which is Yosemite, Bridalveil, and, less easily seen from below, Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette. (via jrabold.net)
11. Rafting in the Merced River Canyon
Rafting along the canyon lets you take in the park from a whole different perspective.
During spring, the most rough-and-tumble time of year, the rafting will be at Levels 3 and 4. They are only suitable for older kids and the more adventurous. (via parenting.com)
Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most scenic and spectacular hikes in the world.
Visitors travel from all corners of the world every year to marvel at the waterfalls and hike the famous trails. (via everytrail.com)
The Yosemite Zipline and Adventure Ranch, located in Mariposa, offers horseback riding, zip lining on six different courses, and aerial ropes courses.
They also offer roping lessons, gold-panning, and more. (via yosemite.com)
14. Rock Climbing
Yosemite is much more than a valley with 3000-foot rock walls and incredible climbing.
It is an outlet for the energies of the world’s most passionate and adventurous people. (via supertopo.com)
15. Scenic Drive
The Tioga Road is the most popular drive in Yosemite. Approximately 48 miles in length, it is the highest route in the region, peaking at 9,945 feet at Tioga Pass. (via nationalgeographic.com)
Yosemite National Park and Mariposa County offer visitors almost 1,500 campsites in its multiple campgrounds. If you’re planning to camp, be sure to secure an authorized spot. That's because camping is allowed only in designated campsites. (via yosemiteexperience.com)
This video from Yosemite National Park will make you plan a camping trip to the place ASAP:
Camping is a fantastic way to put your outdoor survival skills to the test and the Yosemite is the perfect place to do it. This Yosemite National Park camping guide should help with what you need to know to make your camping experience a success!
Did we miss anything in our Yosemite National Park camping guide? Let us know in the comments section!
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on November 6, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.