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The great outdoors: Camping in Yosemite
Half Dome is a common reference point for visitors to Yosemite National park as it is easily seen from the Central Valley. - photo by NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

For many visiting Yosemite is an opportunity to take the day and explore nature with stellar views and hiking trails. For others, it is an opportunity to make a fun day into a multi-night camping trip to enjoy the great outdoors in a more rustic setting: camping.

Camping in Yosemite National Park requires proper planning as it is a destination campsite for people from all over the country, and even the world. 

With over 1,000 miles of trails, backpacking in Yosemite can be a daunting task to plan but the national park is well versed in playing host to campers and have two systems in place to accommodate them: reservation campsites and first-come first-serve campsites.

 Of Yosemite National Park’s 13 popular campgrounds seven are on the reservation system and from April through September, reservations are essential but the first-come, first-served campgrounds also fill up quickly from May through September. 

To make a reservation visitors are encouraged to start the reservation process before 7 a.m. on the 15th of each month up to 5 months prior to the date they intend to camp since the reservations fill up so quickly. However, for those looking for a last-minute trip to witness the wonders of Yosemite, there is still hope.

“Camps along Tioga Road are the best for visitors who are making last minute camping trips because those are first-come first-serve,” said ranger Kari Cobb. 

Amenities at each camp site vary such as running water and the type of terrain. 

Those looking to bring their own gear can do so and can sleep in their own tent or under the starts, but Yosemite also offers several sites with rustic tents and bed frames. These options are available in Curry Village, House Keeping Camp, Tuolumne Meadows, White Wolf and other areas within Yosemite Valley.

“It really just depends upon what each camper is looking for,” said Cobb.

To make a reservation or for more detailed information on each camp site and access to all that Yosemite National Park offers for campers, visit