Yosemite. The name alone stirs the imagination, conjuring images of crashing waterfalls, towering sequoias, and incredible trails. Celebrate the beauty of nature and make your next adventure unforgettable with a Yosemite RV camping experience.
One of the world's finest wilderness parks, Yosemite is truly an emblem of the stunning scenery that defines the Golden State. This is what makes Yosemite camping one of the most sought-after experiences by California locals and tourists alike. Whether it's your first or fiftieth time breathing in the park's majesty, there are many ways you can make each visit unique.
Yosemite is home to several campgrounds, many of them ideal for Cruise America RV rentals. From the conveniences of the Lower Pines to the rugged sites of Porcupine Flat, the RV rental Yosemite experience offers many options.
Read on for a list of Yosemite RV camping locations, fun facts about the park, the best times to visit, and activities to enjoy while there.
Yosemite Park Facts
Enrich your experience on your next trip with these Yosemite Park facts.
While Yosemite Park is the third-largest in the country, its dedication as a national park sparked the idea of having national parks. President Abraham Lincoln signed the grant in 1864, marking the first time the federal government issued protection for land. Yosemite officially became a national park in 1890.
Author John Muir wrote a novel titled “The Yosemite” in 1912, which inspired many to recognize its natural beauty and ecological importance.
The park is home to over 400 species, including the rare Sierra Nevada red fox.
With its towering granite monoliths, Yosemite is a favorite among climbers. Experienced climbers who are up for a challenge should check out the Dawn Wall, El Capitan, and Cathedral Peak.
Best Yosemite RV Parks and Campgrounds
Yosemite Park is a breathtaking sight that satisfies both serenity and adventure seekers of all ages. No two Yosemite trips are alike; the multitude of activities will make each visit unique. Veteran and first-time RV campers are welcome to explore its natural beauty at any RV campground near Yosemite Park. We've grouped some of the most popular RV camping areas based on whether advanced bookings are needed or not.
Yosemite RV Camping: Reservations Required
If you're planning your Yosemite RV camping adventure early, book your reservation at any of these RV parks near Yosemite National Park. Do note, however, that many prime campgrounds near Yosemite will likely be booked solid months in advance. So, if you're too late to reserve, skip to the next section for a list of Yosemite camping spots with no pre-bookings or reservations required.
Upper, Lower, and North Pines
These three Yosemite National Park campgrounds are located near Yosemite Village and Curry Village, providing easy access to amenities like showers, grocery stores, dump stations, and more. Situated in tourist-heavy areas, you can expect a more boisterous Yosemite RV camping experience here.
Capacity: Upper Pines Campground (32), Lower Pines Campground (8), North Pines Campground (13)
More Information: Pines Campgrounds
Located near the park’s southern tip, Wawona is conveniently positioned for travelers coming to the park from Highway 41 out of the Fresno area.
Capacity: 20 RV sites
More Information: Wawona Campground
Bridalveil Creek Campground
Situated outside of Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Creek offers easy roadside access as well as proximity to Glacier Point, a renowned star-gazing spot.
Capacity: 110 RV RV sites
More Information: Bridalveil Creek Campground
Crane Flat Campground
A bit quieter than the Pines Campgrounds, Crane Flat is located off Highway 120 on the park’s western edge. If you're taking an RV to Yosemite to bask in the peaceful surroundings, this camping spot near Yosemite is a good option.
Capacity: 166 RV sites
More Information: Crane Flat Campground
Hodgdon Meadow Campground
Located near the Big Oak Flat entrance on the San Francisco side, Hodgdon Meadow is easy to get to, though it's just a bit off the beaten path.
Capacity: 105 RV sites
More Information: Hodgdon Meadow Campground
Yosemite RV Camping: No Reservations Needed
When planning your Yosemite RV camping trip, keep in mind that the park is exceptionally popular from April through October, and camping in underdeveloped areas is not permitted. Since RV spots fill up quickly, your best bet is to show up early in the morning at one of these first-come, first-serve RV campgrounds and wait for the previous visitors to vacate their spots.
White Wolf Campground
Tucked away to 8,000 feet, White Wolf is around an hour north of Yosemite Valley. Although RVs are welcome, vehicle lengths cannot exceed 27 feet. If you plan to go on a Yosemite RV camping adventure with one of the larger Cruise America RVs, you will need to stay at another campground.
Capacity: 74 RV sites
More Information: White Wolf Campground
This RV campground near Yosemite Park accommodates small to large groups and is well-equipped with electric and water hookups as well as showers. You also have access to meeting halls for group activities, with or without kitchen equipment. Dump stations are located nearby and are very easy to access. Individual campers don't need to book in advance, but groups will need to reserve.
More Information: Mariposa Fairgrounds
Tuolumne Meadows Campground
Although part of this campground takes reservations, much of Tuolumne does not require pre-bookings. Located on the eastern side of the park, its spot prevents many Bay Area travelers from visiting. That said, finding a great spot to park your Yosemite camping rental vehicle will be easy.
Capacity: 304 RV sites
More Information: Tuolumne Meadows Campground
Alternative Yosemite Camping
When planning your trip to Yosemite, you may want to consider alternative options for camping. Here are some suggestions for alternative camping in Yosemite National Park.
There are numerous private campgrounds and RV parks in close proximity, offering a variety of choices for a visit to the area. These establishments offer a wide range of amenities and features, including Wi-Fi access, full hookups, swimming pools, concierge service, and unique attractions like a petting zoo and sluice box gold panning. The majority of these private RV campgrounds are situated in towns located on the western border of the park, such as Oakhurst and Groveland.
If you're prepared to let go of some modern conveniences and truly immerse yourself in the Yosemite experience, consider embarking on a backpacking adventure. Wilderness permits for backcountry hiking, and camping are available at no cost, but their availability is limited due to high demand.
Sixty percent of the available permit slots can be reserved through a lottery system up to six months ahead of time, but it's important to note that these reservations fill up rapidly. The park maintains a comprehensive trailhead report to help you check the availability of permits for your preferred route.
Visit the National Park Service website to make reservations and find the latest information on Yosemite RV camping prices, amenity developments, and new park features.
Best Time to Visit Yosemite Park for RV Camping
An RV trip to Yosemite National Park promises a unique and unforgettable experience. Before you plan your trip, find out more about the best times to enjoy Yosemite RV camping.
Expect it to be snowy and cold during the winter, though don't be surprised if it sometimes gets sunny and chilly. If you love hiking, most of the park will be covered in snow, but some trails in Yosemite Valley will be accessible. While there is not much to do in terms of nature-tripping, winter is a rather busy season in Yosemite National Park, particularly from late December to early January. Brace yourself for heavy traffic and limited campground options. Better yet, book your slot months in advance and drive to the site early.
Spring is the perfect season to explore waterfalls at Yosemite National Park, though some trails will still be snowy or icy. As the weather starts to get warmer, expect small to large creeks to begin rushing with water, with peak runoffs likely by May to June. Check your itinerary before heading out on your car or RV as some roads might still be closed at this time.
Summer RV trips to Yosemite National Park can get warm to hot, with good amounts of rain, particularly in areas with higher elevation. Temperatures could range from 51 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit in Yosemite Valley and Wawona and 35 to 68 degrees in Tuolumne Meadows. If you love exploring waterfalls, you might find some sites dried up if you visit towards August. It's best to come in May or June to see the cascades in full swing.
The weather is rather unpredictable in the fall in Yosemite National Park, ranging from dry to rainy to snowy. If you're looking for picturesque fall colors, Yosemite might not be the best place to look for browns as most of the trees on site are evergreens. But you can still definitely enjoy some earthy hues around October.
Things To Do in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park spans 3,028.8 square kilometers, offering plenty of space to enjoy just about any type of outdoor adventure. Here are some of the fun things to do when you visit Yosemite Park in your rental RV.
Traditional and RV camping: The park has plenty of locations to satisfy outdoor adventurers, whether you want to truly rough it in the wild or simply bask in nature's beauty in your amenity-packed RV.
Backpacking in the wilderness: The Yosemite wilderness comprises about 95% of the area, so feel free to explore.
Hiking: The park has more than 750 miles of trails for novice and experienced hikers alike.
Ranger programs: Check out the different interpretive and ranger programs to learn more about the park as you go around.
Guided tours: All guided tours start in Yosemite Valley and are available the entire year.
Best Hiking Trails in Yosemite National Park
There are plenty of hiking trails ready to be traversed in Yosemite National Park. Here are some of the fan favorites you need to check out on your trip!
Lower Yosemite Falls
The ideal time for this hike is between May and July, when the waterfall is flowing. This hike is suitable for beginners, and the distance from the trailhead is just half a mile round trip, or 1.5 miles if starting from Yosemite Village. The approximate time needed is 15 mins to one hour, depending on how long you plan to stay at the falls.
This 8-mile round trip day hike allows you to view both Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes. This hike takes approximately three to five hours to complete, so packing a picnic is recommended.
The Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls
The hike to Vernal Falls covers a roundtrip distance of three miles, while reaching Nevada Falls requires a total of seven miles. The ascent to Vernal Falls involves a gain of 1,000 feet in elevation and an additional 900 feet to reach the top of Nevada Falls. This is a moderately difficult hike and is best early in the morning to avoid crowds. Expect it to take somewhere between two and five hours to complete.
Upper Yosemite Falls
You have two options to experience Upper Yosemite Falls: admire it from below or embark on a hike to the top for a bird's-eye view of the bustling crowds! This hike covers a roundtrip distance of 7.6 miles and entails a challenging 2,559-foot elevation gain to reach the summit of the falls. It's recommended to allocate an entire day, approximately 6 to 10 hours, to complete this hike. As an added delight, you can continue for an additional 0.9 miles (1.8 miles roundtrip), bringing the total hiking distance to 9.4 miles with an elevation change of 2,969 feet to reach Yosemite Point. This vantage point offers one of the most breathtaking views you'll ever encounter in the park.
Kayaking in Yosemite National Park
Another fun activity many partake in at Yosemite is kayaking! Learn about where to drop in for a relaxing day of kayaking.
Embark on a kayaking adventure along the Merced River, starting from Stoneman Bridge in Curry Village and heading downstream towards Sentinel Point Beach. This picturesque route offers the opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of the river. Along this stretch, you'll find a spacious picnicking area, allowing you to bring along a packed lunch and turn your kayaking excursion into a delightful day trip. Please note that kayaking is permitted in this section of the river from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm unless there are any specific regulations in place.
With its serene waters and breathtaking vistas, Lake Tenaya provides a tranquil haven within the park. During daylight hours, visitors are welcome to bring any non-motorized boat and explore the lake at their leisure. Opting for a kayaking adventure on Lake Tenaya can be a wonderful alternative to the bustling activity often experienced on the Merced River, particularly during the busy summer months.
Animals at Yosemite National Park
Many animals call Yosemite National Park their home. Below, we discuss what animal species you may encounter while visiting the park.
Yosemite is home to approximately 90 different species of mammals. Some of the mammals visitors may see include:
Some of the reptiles guests may encounter at Yosemite National Park include:
There are over 165 species of birds in Yosemite National Park. Here are a few types of birds you may see:
Great gray owl
Yosemite is home to 12 species of amphibians, including:
There are plenty of different types of fish present at Yosemite, including:
Tips for Visiting Yosemite National Park
Take note of these tips before visiting Yosemite National Park to ensure that your trip is stress-free.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most sought-after vacation destinations, so it will be packed from April to October. If you don't like large crowds, it's best to avoid going in these months.
Do not engage or feed the animals roaming around. Keep wildlife wild.
Cellular signals will be limited, so tuck your phones away and enjoy the scenery.
Peak traffic hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, so arrive or leave the park outside of these times.
If you want to explore the Half Dome, be sure to get a permit first.
RV RENTAL FOR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Yosemite RV camping is one of the best ways to get on the road to excitement and adventure in the breathtaking California wilderness. Whether you're going with family and friends or embarking on an intimate journey, Yosemite National Park camping is something you should experience at least once in your lifetime. Your Yosemite RV rental from Cruise America can make this trip special and unforgettable.
Check out our wide selection of Cruise America RV rental options for Yosemite to get started.