Famous for its geology, waterfalls and sequoia trees, California’s beautiful Yosemite National Park spans 761,268 acres across the Sierra Nevada mountains. Frequented by just under four million tourists a year, this park offers something for everyone.
Yosemite National Park has thirteen campgrounds, of which seven of them utilize a central reservations system. Reservations for these campgrounds can be made on the national park website (it has a .gov ending) and includes the Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines, Wawona, Hodgdon Meadow, Crane Flat, Tuolumne Meadows. The other campsites take campers on a first come, first served basis: Camp 4, Bridalveil Creek, Tamarack Flat, White Wolf, Yosemite Creek and Porcupine Flat. When planning to camp it is imperative to book your camp site well in advance (at least a month or more) as the sites fill up extremely quickily (especially in summer!)
RV campsites are available in most campgrounds, but none of the sites have hook-ups.
The National Park offers the Housekeeping Camp, which consists of 266 units that each consist of three concrete walls, a concrete floor, double canvas roof and a fourth curtained wall. These dwellings sleep up to six people in bunk beds and offer a great camping alternative, especially when the temperatures drop. Reservations can be made at the same site as the camping above. Tuolomne Meadows Lodge and the White Wolf Lodge offer the same type of accommodations outside the valley and are excellent base camps for those who spend their day hiking.
During a brief period of time in the past, land parcels were available for sale within the park. As such, some families built cabins for their personal use, and some rent them out to park visitors. Renting a cabin is convenient, allows you to have a kitchen to cook, and gets a little closer to nature than a hotel. Check out a cabin like this one in Wawona!
The Awahnee Hotel: an elegant hotel with amazing views and beautiful dining hall
Yosemite Lodge: at the base of Yosemite falls, it is simple and well-located
Wawona Hotel: this historic hotel sits on a beautiful golf course, great for deer-watching!
Curry Village: offers motel-type rooms, cabins and canvas tents for those on a budget
WHAT TO DO
The Mariposa Grove: The Mariposa Grove is situated near the park's South Entrance. It is the largest stand of giant sequoias (also known as Sierra redwoods or big trees) in Yosemite – quite an impressive sight to see!
Wawona: home to the late nineteenth century historic Wawona Hotel and the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, a collection of historic buildings, a golf course and horse stables. A number of cabins are also located here.
Glacier Point and Badger Pass: Make the drive or hike Glacier Point for an amazing view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra.
Yosemite Valley: Visit the Valley Visitor Center for all the information you need, while stopping off at the Wilderness Center, Museum, the Nature Center at Happy Isles and the Memorial Lodge. Catch a view of Half Dome from the Sentinel Bridge and trapse around the Sentinel Meadow next to the famous Yosemite chapel. Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls are a must-see!
There are many bird-watching, fishing, biking, backpacking, rock climbing, and other activities that one can participate in. Visit the Visitor Center for more info!
There are numerous hiking paths lining the park, for every kind of hiker. For information on distances, conditions, and possible closures please check with the national park site for up-to-date information.
EASY: Bridalveil Fall, Lower Yosemite Fall, Cook’s Meadow Loop, and Mirror Lake/Meadow
MODERATE: Valley Floor Loop
STRENUOUS: Four Mile Trail, Panorama Trail, Upper Yosemite Fall, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall
HALF DOME: Half Dome can only be accessed when the cables are up (typically up from the weekend before Memorial Day to Columbus Day). A special permit is required to hike to the top of Half Dome, it is an extremely steep and long hike therefore it is only recommended for the most seasoned hiker or climber.
Have a great trip!