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Free Camping Near Yosemite National Park

If you want to get up into the high Sierras on the east side of Yosemite, the Inyo National Forest is the place to go.

Not all campgrounds in the Inyo National Forest are close to the national park, but Sawmill Walk-In Camp, Ellery Lake, Big Bend, and Tioga Lake are. They’re all in the very high country near Tioga Pass. Like other national forest campgrounds, expect minimal facilities and vault toilets. Check to find out whether the campground you choose has running water – you might have to bring your own.

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Camp In Yosemite

There are only four campgrounds that are open year-round in Yosemite: Upper Pines, Camp 4, Wawona, Hodgdon The rest are open seasonally and the dates change every year depending on weather conditions.

Weve analyzed the last 10 years of park statistics to give you an idea of when these campgrounds are most likely to be open. From this data we can draw a few key conclusions:

  • Upper Pines, Camp 4, Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow are open all year round
  • Lower Pines and North Pines are always open April October
  • Bridalveil Creek and Yosemite creek have the shortest seasons
  • Yosemite creek is always the earliest to close
  • In most years the campgrounds are all open by the end of June
  • Crane Flat and Tamarack have the longest seasons lasting into October

Glamping & Camping In Yosemite National Park

Every year, 6 months in advance, Jeremy and I schedule an alarm on our phones to alert us that the campsites inside Yosemite Valley have opened up for reservations in the summer. And then we attempt to book campsites. In Yosemite. During the summer.

If youve not yet had the pleasure of experiencing our frustration, let me explain: EVERYONE wants to camp in Yosemite Valley during the summer. Like, all 7 million of us here in the Bay Area, PLUS a everyone else in the country.

And there simply arent enough campsites to go around .

Still, although its frustrating and nerve-wracking, its well worth it. The campgrounds in Yosemite are phenomenal, and being able to wake up to the sheer granite cliffs of Yosemite Valley on all sides is a bucket list dream come true.

Yosemite National Park has 13 maintained campgrounds with modern bathrooms, potable water, fire pits, and designated sites. Expert hikers can also opt for backcountry camping, and non-expert campers can try canvas tent glamping in tent cabins. RVs are allowed in all drive-in campgrounds, but youll need to make sure the site youve reserved will fit your vehicle.

Oh, and one tip for the campground lotteries: book in the off-season! Your chances. of snagging a tent cabin in December are pretty darn high! Just bring a down sleeping bag or two

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Best Rv Camping In And Near Yosemite

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Camping in Yosemite National Park is an amazing experience. Staying overnight in the park allows you to kick back, relax, and experience the mountains that John Muir called the range of light. Here is everything you need to know to find the Best RV Camping In and Near Yosemite National Park.

Budget: Upper Pines Campground

Best Camping Near Yosemite

With 238 campsites at your disposal, Upper Pines Campground might be the best place to stay in Yosemite National Park if you want a better chance at grabbing a camping spot.

Large pines and cedars dominate this area, offering a mix of sun and shade, with views of the valley walls peeking in between the trees. It also happens to remain open year-round to eager campers, although the number of available sites drops to around 50 from December to mid-February.

The campsites at Upper Pines are a little smaller than at North Pines and dont offer much privacy, but there are many trailheads nearby. Although some sites can accommodate RVs smaller than 35 feet, the cheapest option is to book a backpacking site, which goes for as little as $8 a night.

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Campgrounds Off Of Hwy 41

Bridalveil Creek Campground

Located off of Glacier Point Road, Bridalveil Creek Campground is 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley and 45 minutes from Wawona. This is an excellent location for checking out the fantastic views from Glacier Point and the many challenging hiking trails in the area.

There are 110 campsites at Bridalveil Creek. Some of these sites can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet and trailers up to 24 feet. Be sure to check the specifications for each site prior to booking as maximum lengths vary by site.

The campground is open from July through early September. All campsites are first-come, first-served. The nearest dump stations are located in Wawona or Yosemite Valley.

Rv Parks Near Yosemite Packing List

Travelling in an RV is definitely a unique experience. However, if it is a first, many people might be slightly baffled as to what they should add to their packing list.

While there is no need to bring sleeping bags and tents, there are a few items that visitors may not have thought of.

Visiting Yosemite National Park in an RV is an option worth exploring. It is a great way to kill two birds with one stone as visitors get a mode of transport and a place to eat, relax and sleep.

Whether visitors choose to stay in an RV Park inside Yosemite or an RV park near Yosemite, there are certainly pros and cons to both.

Staying at Yosemite National Park offers the advantage of location. This makes it easier to explore the park while visitors are surrounded by amazing views. However, it does come with its own set of drawbacks too.

One of the biggest issues with staying in an RV in Yosemite is that there are no hookups available and sometimes the facilities are lacking. This is great for the more experienced RVer or if visitors are after a more authentic camping experience.

However, this could be problematic for those trying it out for the first time or those that are used to five star resorts.

If guests want a little bit of luxury or just a few more home comforts, then the surrounding area comes up trumps.

Many of the RV parks near Yosemite are not that far from the national park, so it is not too inconvenient to get there every day.

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Review: Rush Creek Lodge At Yosemite National Park

Out of all the options on our list, we have one favorite option that we highly recommend: Rush Creek Lodge near the Big Oak Flat entrance of Yosemite National Park, on the west side. Weve included a full review below.

Rush Creek Lodge is located a hop, skip and a jump away from the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Its literally like a 5 minute drive from the entrance on Highway 120. Which means its pretty much the closest you can get to the park without actually staying INSIDE Yosemite. Weve done both, for what its worth. We still recommend Rush Creek Lodge. Just sayin.

The lodge itself is actually brand new, and is the first lodge near Yosemite to open in over 25 years. Its also a sister property to the older and more established Evergreen Lodge.

Rush Creek Lodge has the aesthetic of every lodge Ive ever loved: everything is wood, pine, burlap, and plaid. There are mirrors in decorative wood slice frames. There is wood trim on EVERYTHING, which makes the entire lodge just smell like wood and Christmas and forest and heaven.

During our visit in December, the lodge was decorated like a lumberjack Christmas playland. The grounds were decorated with twinkling Christmas lights and giant hanging wooden carved snowflakes.

It made me want to wear flannel and skip around chopping down trees and hugging stumps, or whatever lumberjacks do. FWIW, I did not chop down any trees during our time at Rush Creek Lodge, but I did wear a LOT of flannel.

Where Should I Stay While Visiting Yosemite


Yosemite National Park is a phenomenal landscape full of majestic mountains, pristine alpine lakes, and massive waterfalls its the perfect place to take a vacation!

Where should you stay while visiting Yosemite? If you want to be close to the best hikes and viewpoints in the park, try to stay in Yosemite Valley. If youre looking for something outside of the park, the El Portal area is a fantastic option.

My name is Ash, and Im a former park ranger Ive spent a lot of time in this park! Im excited to help you decide where to stay while visiting Yosemite, so lets talk about your options.

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The Big Oak Flat Entrance

This is the Entrance you access if you are coming from the Bay area and heading to Yosemite. This route is located at The South-East part of the Big Oak Flat. How do you get to the Big Oak Flat entrance? You have to pass through the 1-580 from East to 1-205 East of Highway 120 East, through the Mantec, Calif.

What to enjoy through the Entrance

This Entrance ensures you have a full stomach before accessing the Yosemite National Park. At the Groveland, you will find all sorts of restaurants, shops, hotels, and so on located about 24 miles from the Entrance. Also, it is crucial to note that Groveland is the largest town situated between the Big oak flat entrance and Sonora.

You can never get bored passing through this Entrance, especially during the summer since live bands are performing along the way, and you get to enjoy wine tasting at Historic Hotel Charlotte located downtown. Have you ever heard about the iron Door saloon? Well, this famous saloon established in 1852 is found around this area. Lastly, you will enjoy some facilities like banks, medical clinics, and even pharmacies.

Camping Near Yosemite National Park

Whether you are camping in Yosemite or camping near Yosemite youll love the experience of the awe-inspiring Sierra Nevada Mountains.The Sierra Nevada range rises up from Californias great Central Valley to encompass many of the highest mountain peaks in North America. Yosemite Mariposa County covers a good stretch of this outdoor recreation wonderland, offering quality campgrounds at all levels of Yosemite elevation.

While camping in Yosemite gets rave reviews, seasoned tent-poppers know that camping outside of Yosemite has just as much to offer. Camping near Yosemite provides easier-to-reach car-camping options for travelers, great locations along clear-running rivers and azure lakes, and the abundant national forest campsites make camping below the snow a peak experience!

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Yosemites Big Oak Flat Entrance

The Big Oak Flat Entrance sits on Yosemites west side along Highway 120, and is one of the entrances thats easily accessible from the Bay Area via Modesto. From the Big Oak Flat Entrance, its about a 25 mile drive to Yosemite Valley.

Driving into the park from this entrance will take you past the trailhead for the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias before meeting the junction with Tioga Road.

In the summer, you can take Tioga Road all the way up through the park into Tuolumne Meadows, a high-elevation meadow with miles and miles of glorious alpine trails on the far eastern side of the park. The drive is stunning, but leave yourself plenty of time to drive back down again!

Heading the other direction at the junction on Big Oak Flat Road, youll converge with other roads near the entrance to Yosemite Valley full of incredible views, park highlights, and of course, crowds.

Here are our recommendations for where to stay near Yosemites Big Oak Flat entrance:

  • Rush Creek Lodge:This is our #1 pick for where to stay near Yosemite National Park, just minutes from the park entrance. The lodge itself is stunning, with amenities like a pool and hot tub, unlimited smores, a gorgeous spa, and tours in and out of the park. Plus, the lodge is a Social Enterprise and certified B-Corporation with a social mission and a program that provides jobs to urban youth we LOVE supporting them. Weve included a full review below gushing about why we love this lodge scroll down to take a look.

Practical Information About Rush Creek Lodge

Best Camping Near Yosemite
  • Address: 34001 CA-120, Groveland, CA 95321
  • Travel Tip: We also recommend this excellent introduction to Yosemite tour which departs from Rush Creek Lodge. Youll be able to leave your car and spend a day in the park getting your bearings and seeing all the top sights in Yosemite Valley, with 5 hours of free time to go on a hike or bike ride or swim in the Merced River.

Where did you decide to stay near Yosemite National Park? Did you book Rush Creek just for the unlimited smores? Drop us a comment below!

Looking for more USA inspiration? We have a MASSIVE travel guide for all our favorite places in the US and handy advice, packing tips and travel guides. Click the link below to download!

Hey, while youre in the San Francisco Bay Area, why not check out some of our other posts?

Disclaimer: This post was originally created as part of an uncompensated collaboration with Rush Creek Lodge and Mazda and has since been updated. Although we were hosted guests, all opinions, smore obsessions, and suggestions of soap-thievery are 100% our own and totally not their fault.

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Rv Rental Yosemite National Park

Buying an RV is a big investment. It is not something everyone can do especially if they are not sure if it is for them.

Anyone new to RVs and who dont want to buy one just yet should consider RV Share. They match people with the perfect RV to rent for their adventure.

There are over 100,000 listings across the US to choose from, so there is one to suit everyones needs. In fact, they have everything from budget to luxury.

They take care of the insurance and roadside assistance so it is easy to travel with peace of mind.

RVs are most popular with families and it is easy to understand why. With everything guests need onboard, parents dont have to worry about taking all the usual family paraphernalia.

High Sierra Camps In Yosemites Backcountry

High Sierra Camps are closed in 2022.

Leave tent poles and cooking gear behind when you set out for one or more of the five High Sierra Camps in Yosemites backcountry. Located 6-10 miles apart on a loop trail northeast of Yosemite Valley, each camp offers different views and amenities. Plan to backpack to one, or complete the entire 49-mile loop.

Each camp is made up of a small village of canvas safari-style tents that sleeps fewer than 50 people. Youll sleep in a steel-framed dorm-style bed equipped with mattresses, pillows and blankets or comforters. Most camps also have wood-burning stoves to heat the tents. Parties of fewer than four may end up sharing one of the co-ed tents with strangers. Each camp has a restroom, and three of the camps have hot showers that are available as water supply allows. Purified drinking water is also provided, so you wont even have to filter your own water. Theres no electricity at the camps, so you and your family can totally unplug. Family-style dinner is served each night in a dining tent at 6:30 p.m. and the next morning you can enjoy family-style breakfast at 7:30 a.m. The camps can even provide lunches to eat on the trail upon request.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience is justifiably very popular. A lottery is held each year in the fall for the following season to secure reservations.

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Porcupine Flat Campground Near Tioga Road

Porcupine Flat Campground is closed in 2022.

Porcupine Flat is a more primitive-style campground with narrow roads, making it unsuitable for RVs. Tent campers will have to filter, boil or treat water from nearby Porcupine Creek for cooking and drinking. Since theres no running water at this campground, the restrooms are pit-toilets.

Located at 8,100 feet in elevation, Porcupine Flat Campground usually has a short season, normally open mid-July through early October.

Travertine Hot Springs Dispersed Camping

Camping ð?ð? At Yosemite Lakes RV Resort Campground // Yosemite National Park Preview ð

Distance to Yosemite: 38 miles from Tioga Pass EntranceRestrooms: NoMap

One final option for dispersed camping near Yosemite that deserves a mention is the BLM land around the Travertine Hot Springs. Youll be quite a distance from Yosemite here, but the opportunity for dispersed camping near some excellent hot springs might just be enough to make this worth while.

The Travertine Hot Springs are located just outside of the town of Bridgeport and dispersed camping is permitted on the dirt road that leads from town to the springs. However, camping is not permitted in the actual parking lot for the hot springs.

The campsites here arent much more than dusty pullouts, but you do have easy access to services in Bridgeport and the road is passable by RVs and small passenger vehicles.

Looking to find more dispersed campsites? Check out The Dyrt PRO to get campsite reviews, offline maps, and the best map layers for finding public dispersed camping!

Our Top Camping App The Dyrt PRO

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