/ Camping Yosemite
I am planning on spending part of august and september in yosemite and was wondering what is the best way to get a campsite, is it easy to get one if i turn up at the last minute or book ahead?
also what permits do i need?
Best thing to do is just check their website it will tell you all you need to know.
Permit for entry to the park is easy, you pay at the gate (but only if you drive in, if you get the bus from Merced, I think its still free).
You probably know this already, but almost all climbers stay at Camp 4, its part of the experience and the vibe. Its a national park run campsite, which you can't book ahead, and in the busy period, can't stay more than 14 days. That changes around mid Sep, after which you can stay longer. When people get there, they generally ninja bivi in the area, get up before the office opens (8.30am?) and queue for a spot. First come first served, so you might need to get up at 6 in August.
It isn't too hard to get around the max stay restrictions, they're not nazis when it comes to the rules
Note. Camp 4 is a sh*thole compared with the other camp sites. Compared with places like Upper and Lower Pines it is the no star class bed-and-breakfast run by Master Bates compared with the 5 star Luxury hotel.
Why climbers stay there I do not know. "It's the experience and the vibe" does not, in my opinion, make up for the excessively crowded pitches, the significant slope so you end up in a large pile at the bottom end of your tent, the ant colonies, and the swamp section if it rains.
However if you are desperate, it is likely to have spaces (if you get up early enough) where the other, better, camp sites will be booked miles ahead.
It's a cheap ($5 a night), bog standard, well run, national parks campsite that has running water, no showers. Showers are available in the village though. It is also one of the birthplaces of modern rock climbing, an internationally significant place in those terms, and it has some of the best bouldering in the valley, right in the campsite. It's where the climbers stay obviously, so it does have a nice friendly atmosphere where you can get info, kit, partners, transport etc etc.
Alternatively, If you want to pay a f*cking fortune for some commercially run horror story, catch the hantavirus, get your arse wiped for you with silk toilet role and live in a row of Wendy houses full of fat muggles that think you are weird or part of the tourist attraction, then go with John Hat's suggestion.
Sitting round the fire late at night drinking beer with other like minded people when you've just climbed something massive is one of the best experiences of my life. It's not quite the same in the other sites.
Thinking along the lines of " there's nothing worse than a campsite full of climbers" we stayed at camp curry. Had a nice little Wendy house with beds and chairs. The extra cost was less than it would have been to lug an extra bag of camping gear on a plane.
And yes, you needed to book ahead.
Wow, feelings run high on this important issue.
I stayed at camp 4 for 10 days. It's basic but fine and as a climber you need to stay there at least once. If I go again I'll stay at one of the other sites as C4 is pretty noisy and busy. The Pines are not 'commercially run horror stories' they are NPS camsites. I think Jonny is referring to Curry Village which has rows of semi-permanent tents.
Anyone that would choose to camp in an RV park in the US deserves everything they get. FOUR times the price of camp 4, six to a pitch (same as camp 4), noisier, and still no showers.
You'd rather camp with a bunch of random tourists? What actually is so bad about being around people who share your passion?
When I went to Yosemite, I stayed at C4.
When I went back to Yosemite... I stayed at C4.
You get to fail on Midnight Lightning too.
I don't even try it any more ;-)
I agree with some sentiments - I was pretty disgusted with the bogs back in 2012. However the positives far outweigh the negatives. I've still got friends I made in 95, 98, 2011 and 2012 who I'm still regularly in touch with.
Likely to be different rules regarding length of stay etc. pre and post Labour day.
Sept 15th is the changeover.
This thread just shows different people have different views. A few extra bits from someone who has stayed in many:
Yellow Pines was nice like camp 4 but with more space; its a volunteer site so the brits get to go there during things like Facelift in September.
Camp 4 ($5 per person) is historic (a must at least once) but a pain to get into at busy times. The 'sneaky bivi' to get a space is in fact a technically against the rules overnight queue (be there in the very early hours for a chance at very busy times). It's crowded and can be a bit dirty and noisy but its full of climbers (of all nations and temperaments so don't expect everyone to get on). You have to share sites and if you have a lot of stuff that needs to go in the bear box it can be a bit rammed.
Tuolomne ($20) or White Wolf (cheaper at $14 a site and with on-site bouldering) are the places to be in August to early September as climbing in Tuolumne is more reliable. Facilities are better than Camp 4, there is much more space and if there are 5 of you its cheaper at Tuolumne than Camp 4. Lots of climbers stay here so you can form your own community or stay private, as you like. Go for sites on the outside on both venues in early September and you will almost certainly see a bear.
Pines and Crane Flat (all $20) although requiring bookings are worth a look if climbing in the valley when Camp 4 is rammed, as cancellations open up space at times. Crane flat is further but has some lovely peaceful sites. Good facilities. $20 a site.
Tamarack Flat isn't as good its got very limited facilities is only $10 a site but is down a bumpy side-road which adds 10 mins to any journey. It can be the closest place to the valley with space at busy times. Porcupine Creek and Yosemite Creek are similar but better situated sites and better for Tuolumne if White Wolf and Tuolumne are full.
There are useful cheaper campsites at Tioga pass (for Tuolumne) and slightly less useful ones at El-Portal (for valley climbing).
I've never stayed in a Camp Curry wendy house. My view is its only OK if you are wealthy or want a single venue holiday: most Uk climbers need a tent to visit a few other places or retain flexibility (for instance last summer we were heading for Yosemite but went to Tahquitz/Suicide because of road and campsite closures in Yosemite due to the fires).
My experience is book early. They sell out very, very fast. I went a few years ago and spent a precious day scrabbling around for a spot, even then it was in a cancellation lottery and only for two nights.
You will need a national park permit which can be purchased at the gatehouse to the national park.
Seriously though book early. If I recall rightly, they put out blocks of bookings around now, they sell out in a couple of hours.
The Camp 4 Survivors Club...!
You can't book camp 4.
My experience of the Pines is obviously different to yours. Been to the valley recently?
the op didn't mention camp 4 and even rocking up to camp 4 and hoping for the best isn't the wisest idea during peak tourist season.
He asked is it easy to turn up at the last minute. I think it's a fair answer to say it isn't that easy and could end up in wasting a day scrabbling around for somewhere, could even end camping outside the park or risking a cheeky wild camp.
I've only been three times so am happy to be corrected if I'm wrong though.
I really don't like C4 at all - mainly for the reasons that Enty likes it! I must confess though to having been one of the noise makers myself on occasions.
I stayed at Upper Pines once for a couple of nights. That visit coincided with a huge and very high pressure system over California which held the smoke from hundreds of camp fires right down at ground level. It was unbelievably unpleasant. I think on that occasion C4 might have been more pleasant as I get the impression the valley is wider down there and indeed driving down to El Cap very early the next morning, still dark, the air seemed a lot clearer.
We stayed in a Curry tent cabin once but that was because we were starting the John Muir Trail the next morning and really didn't want to have to pack our tent away in the morning. I didn't really like it and remember it was quite expensive.
The last time I was in Yosemite in 2012 wasn't to climb, it was to have dinner at the Ahwahnee. I've always fancied staying the night at the Ahwahnee but it was about $600 B+B, so settled for just the dinner which was expensive enough! When we came out we'd had far too much wine to risk driving out of the park and so climbed into the back of the car and slept in the car park. In the night a ranger pulled up by the side of our car and mooched around the car park but luckily didn't see us.
Is it easy to spend a month there or does it become to difficult to get about without a car?
i went in June a few years ago, and i think you where only allowed to stay in camp4 for 2 weeks..
but people seem to be sneaky about it.. i.e if there are 2 of you. one person checks into camp 4, but you both camp. After the 2 weeks is up the other person checks in.. its so busy the wardens don't notice. if you have a car they may notice as there is limited parking.
but if you had a car, you could stay on the outside of the valley and go in each day.
I went without car and it worked out fine. free bus will get you round the park.
Make sure you make friends and you may get your hands on shower/wifi codes for other accommodation areas.
It was only 7 days when I stayed in May 2012 and 2013. Think the 7 days is from the start of May through to September.
Yeah, but its got to be done, otherwise you don't get the tick.
Yes, I think that's right, but it's not well policed. I've had month long stays, worst case you can leave then renter the park.
You can get a hell of a lot done without a car, the free bus is useful for getting around. For things like cookie cliff an Tuolumne, hitching, especially from camp 4, isn't hard.
What opinion? I only gave a price and said facilities were good? Last there in Sept for Facelift where some volunteers were at Upper Pines (we were originally but got moved to Yellow Pines).
I didn't say opinion. Anyway, facilities wise, it doesn't even have a shower, which is most people's whinge with C4.
Do any of them have showers though? The valley ones and tuolumne do have showers nearby.
No, just the Wendy houses. I was questioning your logic about the facilities at the Pines being good when they still lack the basics of a shower, like C4.
Your right: excellent facilities for camping at YNP being not so far from the tent showers ;-)
Ooh. Interesting. Does it do tricks?
Actually, what I said was "Upper and Lower Pines", not the Wendy Houses. Or the Hotel for that matter, though I will admit after several weeks in the valley I did look at the hotel and wonder what a hot shower was like and whether the second mortgage required to get a room would be worth it :-)
Camp 4 is the cheapest campsite in the valley for a reason. Its the one with the least facilities and the smallest pitches. Some (yourself) may argue that the vibe is worth it. I'll admit that sitting up late round a campfire with like minded folk is a fantastic experience.
However, personally, I prefer Upper/Lower Pines because the pitches are huge, you are in a lovely forest setting, its really peaceful, IT'S FLAT and actually, its nice to talk to non-climbers sometimes given I was talking to climbers all day.
Some of *my* most interesting times in the valley were sitting down around a camp fire with an American Octogenarian and him talking about how he was stationed in England during the war, and his experiences during the war, us all slagging off George Bush (:-)), and then him and his wife giving us a *huge* pot of stew they had made the next day because "it needs eating up and we're off home tomorrow".
Would be a boring world if we were all the same.
Ive had some good evenings with non-climbing strangers as well. Americans are a bit more friendly than brits in my experience. Also had free food and beer but have reciprocated when clearing my supplies before a flight home.
So you did, apologies.
Fair enough. Thanks for the apology, they are not often seen round here and it's really appreciated. Best wishes and regards. J
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