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Yosemite National Park
Photograph: Courtesy Yosemite National Park

The 13 best campgrounds in Yosemite National Park

Check out our ranking of the best campgrounds at Yosemite National Park, plus what to know about amenities and when to book

Erika Mailman
Written by
Clara Hogan
Erika Mailman

Camping in U.S. national parks is a favorite pastime for nature enthusiasts, and for many, securing a spot at the iconic Yosemite National Park tops the bucket list. With its breathtaking landscapes and unparalleled wilderness experience, Yosemite offers a range of campsites that  set campers up to create unforgettable memories.

Sleeping under the stars in Yosemite is magical, but the process leading up to the experience is far from as enjoyable. Navigating the reservation systems and deciding which campsite to go after can be challenging. Yosemite is in high demand, particularly from May through October, and securing a camping spot requires effort. 

Popular campsites in Yosemite include Upper, Lower, and North Pines campgrounds for their proximity to the valley. However, these are highly competitive to reserve, and North Pines is often fully booked through an early lottery system. If you are willing to drive from your campsite into the valley, it's easier (but still not easy) to snag a reservation at Wawona or Hodgdon campgrounds.

We have rounded up the best campsites in Yosemite, including their pros and cons. Once you've set your sights on the one you want to try for, make sure to register and get familiar with, the site used for making campground reservations. Create an account and be prepared to act quickly. During peak season, reservations can often be made up to five months in advance, and Yosemite campgrounds often book up within seconds. Reservations open on the 15th of each month at 7am. In addition, this year, the opening of several campsites and roads has been delayed due to record amounts of snow. Always make sure to check the opening status of the campsites and roads before planning your visit. 

Despite these challenges, the experience of waking up in the middle of Yosemite offers a connection with the great outdoors that is truly unparalleled—and well worth the effort.

Best campgrounds at Yosemite National Park

Just to confuse you, there are three campgrounds with ‘Pines’ in the name; we think Lower Pines is the best because it’s the smallest with just 73 sites. The three Pines campgrounds are all near the Merced River in Yosemite Valley where most of Yosemite’s most dramatic wonders can be seen including views of Half Dome and El Cap. Also, they are close to Curry Village and the showers. The amphitheater within walking distance usually hosts nighttime ranger presentations. Reservations can be made up to five months in advance. 

Amenities: flush toilets, cell reception, free shuttle, close to Curry Village

This is the largest of the Pines campgrounds with 240 sites, and it's crowded enough to draw comparisons to a city. It may surprise you to know that Yosemite Village, which you can walk or bike to from the campground, actually has a population count (1,065 in the 2010 census), a post office, fire station, grocery store, and many of the amenities of a regular town. Like the other two Pines campgrounds, it sits at 4,000 feet and can be accessed from all park roads and is on the free shuttle route.

Amenities: toilets, cell reception, free shuttle bus, near Curry Village


This campground is the medium-sized one of the Pines and Goldilocks would probably say it was just right. Feel free to build a campfire (wood or charcoal—but wood is only allowed in the evenings in summer, while charcoal can be used anytime). This campground sits between the Merced River and Tenaya Creek, giving you a little more waterfront access. Plus, you get to use the cute stone Clark’s Bridge to get to it. A lottery system is used for North Pines reservations to address complaints about a perceived unfair reservation system for this popular campground.

Amenities: flush toilets seasonally, cell reception seasonally

White Wolf is an hour’s drive from the valley, sits at 8,000 feet, and offers a more bucolic experience (with no visitor services nearby). The campground is in the forest off Tioga Road, between Tuolumne Meadows and Crane Flat. You’ll have easy access to trailheads leading to Lukens Lake (a beautiful tree-lined lake), Harden Lake and other wilderness treks. The 74-tent sites (no RVs here) are near two stretches of a seasonal creek for wading and cooling off or just hearing the water rush by. Note that this campground has no ADA access.

Amenities: flush toilets, food storage lockers, amphitheater seasonally 


Hardcore camper alert! There is no potable water at this campground, so you must learn the joyful (really!) art of filtering, boiling or treating with iodine the water that you take from the creek. Seriously, there is pleasure in knowing you can outwit the bacteria in your drink. To reach this site, you must drive five miles of rough road off the Tioga Road, an hour from the valley. The camp is at 7,700 feet, and there is no flushing with what are nicely called “vault toilets.”

Amenities: vault toilets, food storage lockers

Close to the historic Wawona area of the park, this campground is 45 minutes from the valley. You’ll be on the South Fork of the Merced River at 4,000 feet elevation, a quick drive to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. You’ll also be close to the Pioneer History Center that provides a chance to see some of the park’s earliest structures, such as a Chinese laundry and a covered bridge (take a ride through it on a horse-drawn wagon). There’s a market and a visitor’s center with a display of Victorian artist Thomas Hill’s work at Wawona.

Amenities: flush toilets, cell reception, amphitheater seasonally, horses allowed


Not the most creative name, but this Yosemite Valley campground does have an innovative reservation system.  From late May through September, campsites are only reservations only. Reservations open one week in advance. The best part: you can apply for up to seven nights. The worst part: a low success rate. The other worst part: a nonrefundable $10 fee. If you win a spot, the effort is well worth it: you’ll be at the base of granite cliffs close to Yosemite Falls and close to everything in the valley.

Amenities: flush toilets, cell reception, tents only

This is a campground near the Big Oak Flat entrance to the park, located along Big Oak Flat Road. It sits at 4,900 feet and is about 45 minutes drive to Yosemite Valley. There is a gas station at Crane Flat with some convenience store items. A short drive from the campground brings you to trailheads for the Merced Grove and the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Note that this campground has no ADA access for wheelchair users.

Amenities: flush toilets, food storage lockers


Another bare bones campgrounds where you will be responsible for treating your own water scooped from Tamarack Creek. The campground is in the forest, three miles off the Tioga Road, just east of Crane Flat where a gas station provides gas and some minimal items to go. It’s a 45 minutes drive to Yosemite Valley and sits at 6,300 feet. The campground is not recommended for RVs and trailers which will find it hard to access. 

Amenities: vault toilets, tents only

Note: closed until 2024 or 2025 for rehabilitation

Yosemite’s largest campground with 304 drive-in campsites, seven group sites, four horse sites, and 21 backpacker sites, Tuolumne Meadows is on the Tioga Road, with some areas close to the Tuolumne River. Sitting at 8,000 feet and only open seasonally, it's a great place to embark on hikes to lakes and prominent views. It’s 1.5 hours from the valley but close to a small store, grill, and post office. When open, it serves more than 150,000 visitors annually.

Amenities: flush toilets seasonally, cell reception seasonally, amphitheater seasonally, horses allowed


Located just west of Crane Flat and its helpful gas station and mart, and 30 minutes from the valley, this campground sits at 6,200 feet. It’s close to trailheads for Merced Grove and Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. It was built in the 1960s and originally was intended to have six different loop roads but only five were completed. Those roads are currently being rebuilt, and some single campsites will be merged to make double sites, allowing up to 12 people to camp together. The campsite recently underwent rehabilitation and is scheduled to open for the 2023 season as a  reservation-only campsite.

Amenities: flush toilets, cell reception seasonally, amphitheater seasonally

This is the only campground along Glacier Point Road (which is also closed for the duration) near Bridalveil Creek, and it’s surrounded by a lush forest of red fir and lodgepole pine. It sits at 7,200 feet and 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley. Glacier Point is seven miles away and offers spectacular views overlooking the valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and the high country. Although there are no nearby services, you have access to a lot of hiking trails on Glacier Point Road. There are three campground loops and a horse camp here. The campsite recently underwent water system rehabilitation and is scheduled to be open for the 2023 season.

Amenities: flush toilets seasonally, no designated disabled access campsites, horses allowed


Yes, this campground is named for the yellow-haired porcupines that live in Yosemite. Porcupine Flat was once covered by glaciers which left only a small amounts of soil atop the rock. Thus, trees are short-rooted and can often fall, creating food for the bark-eating mammals. The campground itself is off the Tioga Road, an hour from the valley and 30 minutes from Tuolumne Meadows. It’s at 8,100 feet and close to the Porcupine Creek Trailhead. No visitor services are nearby. This is one of the campgrounds where you must make creek water drinkable yourself. Intimidated? This article helps explain how to do it.

Amenities: vault toilets, tents only

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