Yosemite questions

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Simon Carr

May 14, 2022, 4:09:07 PMMay 14
to Climbing - PMC

A UK climber I know asked me the following….

Wondered if you have beta on Yosemite, best campsites for climbing, access issues with vehicles etc

Jago, my son and his girlfriend are heading out there with their own van in mid September and we’re going to book a campsite

At moment lower pines or upper, do you know which is better all round, ie location scenery etc?

Be great full for any advice as it’s a while since I’ve been there

As  I haven’t been there in 15 years I can’t really help….any suggestions?



Mark Fletcher

May 14, 2022, 6:02:01 PMMay 14
to Simon Carr, Climbing - PMC
Since I live in California about 2.5 hours from the Valley, I will throw in my suggestions (which are even wider than the present request):

1)  I would suggest that the person work on the sleeping arrangement reservations first since that will be the most limiting.  Lower Pines and Upper Pines are nice and I think Yosemite now has all campsites fully open.  Both Lower and Upper Pines are in the woods, so both are very similar.  Some sites at Lower Pines have views of Half Dome, but it is very difficult to predict which site has this.  I judge both of them very close in terms of views. Both are close to the Curry Village area store and restaurants/pizza.  The reservations go very quick for these, but sometimes you can pick up availability in the week when the weekends are completely booked.  Yellow Pines is a walk-in campground.  Note that much of the campsites are almost completely booked several months in advance.  Camp 4 has been expanded and now has very nice bathrooms with showers.  The arrangement for getting a campsite at Camp 4 has changed considerably compared to the past.  If the other campgrounds are full, try the Housekeeping.  I stayed there last year for the Yosemite Face-Lift and really liked it.  It is more expensive than the campsites, but you get a covered three-sided shelter with a private patio for cooking and eating.  Plus, it has its own showers with towels provided.  It also has three beds per shelter, one two person bed and a bunk bed set.  You can even rent sleeping bags there.  The shelter has a power socket and the cooking area also has a socket.  It really helps to be flexible on your dates unless making reservations a very long time in advance.  I think the furthest you can reserve the campgrounds in advance is six months and Housekeeping is over a year.  Other campgrounds that are in the park, but outside of the valley floor are Crane Flat (about 20 minutes from valley floor) and White Wolf (about a hour from valley floor, although White Wolf may have been affected by a fire last year).  Also note that the reservation system for Housekeeping is completely different from the campgrounds.  Sorry, one more major point about reservations:  Housekeeping will not allow you to access a campsite if you arrive before the person who is listed on the reservation.  Thus, if there are multiple people in your party staying at Housekeeping, you either need to make sure all names are on the reservation or have the person who is on the reservation arrive first.  If you are entering Yosemite using a reservation for a campground that is in someone else's name, then you need to bring a copy of the reservation and a copy of the photo identification of the person that reserved it (i.e., drivers license or passport).

2) Yosemite now requires access reservations during approximately May through October, even if on a day trip.  If you have a campground reservation, Housekeeping reservation, or the Ahwanee Hotel (mega $$$) reservation, then this is your access pass.  If you are coming for the day, you have to go on-line and obtain an access pass.

3). If you cannot get reservations in the park, there are hotels in Oakhurst on Hwy. 41 south of the park.  They probably also get booked completely during the summer very early, but several major hotel chains opened hotels there a few years ago.  In this case, you will need to get the day pass mentioned above.  A slight issue here might be that you might get caught in the line of cars at the entry gate unless you enter early each day.  The line was up to 90 minutes during the COVID pandemic, but I think that was due to the limited staff at that time (the park also limited the number of people entering at that time).  Oakhurst has a nice brewery (Southgate Brewery), but it can sometimes be crowded or a long wait to sit down.

4). There are also some AirB&B type places in Oakhurst and the surrounding areas.  There also might be some in the communities along Hwy. 120 for the northern entry.  A community name to look for is Groveland.

5). You can camp for free in dispersed camping (or for a fee at campgrounds) south of Yosemite.  You cannot reserve these sites.  While this may sound really good, you need to take into account that it will likely be at least a 1.5 hour drive from the camping to the valley floor one way.  Another issue is that there have been major fires that have happened that have closed some of the established campgrounds and also there is always a fire threat that could shut down access at any time.  For the camping, you would have to be totally sufficient with all camping supplies and bring your own water.  If doing dispersed camping, you will need a fire permit, which is free and can be obtained at any National Forest office such as in Clovis, Bass Lake, or Prather.

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