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Lodging

Yosemite National Park Camping: What to Do When Campsites Are All Booked

May 4, 2017

Camping. Roughing it. Being one with nature.

Whatever you call it, we believe there is no better way to truly experience Yosemite National Park in all its beauty than a night or two spent out underneath the stars. Plus, according to research, spending time outdoors is the ultimate form of self-care. And who are we to argue with science?

Yosemite is home to more than 1,400 different campsites, a large majority of which can be reserved in advance. Thing is, the vast majority of our campsites require booking as far out as six months in advance, which means if you’re hoping for a Yosemite camping adventure during this year’s peak season, you might need to consider some alternatives. It’s OK. We’ve got you covered.

The good news is, there are plenty of places to pick for your Plan B if camping isn’t in the cards for you this summer at Yosemite.

Yosemite Camping Alternatives

If you haven’t stayed in a cabin in Yosemite National Park, you’re missing out on the perfect combination of being close to nature while still having all your creature comforts met. Check out our cabin rentals, which are searchable by region and budget type. Cabin rentals can be a very affordable option for families who wish to cook for themselves and stay inside the park.

Yosemite bed and breakfasts are also terrific alternatives to camping, with many B&Bs situated next hiking trails, making them the perfect leaping-off point for any vacation. Best of all, there’s someone there to cook up a hearty breakfast for you every morning before you start exploring. Discover Yosemite bed and breakfast options here.

Of course, it’s hard to beat the comforts of a hotel, especially when it’s a Yosemite hotel. From the roadside charm of the Yosemite Miners Inn Motel to the rustic charm of Mariposa’s 5th Street Inn to the stunning luxury of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, there’s something for every style and budget in Yosemite Mariposa County. Search Yosemite hotels and motels here.

Booking Yosemite Camping in Advance

If you have your heart set on a Yosemite camping trip, don’t give up hope. If you’re flexible and want to book further down the road (fall 2017 or spring and summer 2018) you still have plenty of options for camping in Yosemite or stay outside the park to find campsites even in the high season.

See our list of favorites below:

May Lake High Sierra Camp

Type:  Wilderness Campground

Region: Tuolumne Meadows / Tioga Pass

Budget: $$

Just a short, one-mile hike from Tioga Road, May Lake High Sierra Camp is located at the base of Mt. Hoffman, the geographic center of Yosemite National Park. This idyllic location sits right on the high mountain lake, making it perfect for fishing and hiking.

One of Yosemite’s easiest High Sierra Camps to access, May Lake can accommodate up to 36 guests in its eight cabins. This is a backpack-in experience, meaning you must hike to the cabins. Meals are provided at camp but the advantage to the High Sierra Camps (May Lake is one of five) is the seclusion of the camps (no cars or roadside distractions) and the truly epic scenery. Sometimes only available by lottery, if you have some flexibility in your schedule you can call a week and advance and book any cancellations that might come up. Please be aware this camp is only accessible once Tioga Pass re-opens for the season.

Learn more about May Lake High Sierra Camp

Get Directions

Wawona Campground

Type: RV & Campground

Region: Wawona & Fish Camp

Budget: $

Located just one mile north of Wawona, this spectacular campground sits at the southern end of the park at an elevation of 4,000 ft. Surrounded by some of Yosemite’s most iconic natural wonders, this site allows you to gaze upon waterfalls, granite cliffs and grand meadows – all from the comfort of your own campsite. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias just a quick, free shuttle ride away, once the grove re-opens in the autumn.

Wawona Campground is open year-round and is the perfect spot for families, groups or visitors with horses. Reservations are required up to five months in advance from approximately April through September. From October through March, campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis in the A loop (about 20 sites). $26/night ($18/night from approximately October through April)

Learn more about Wawona Campground

Get Directions

Mariposa KOA

Type: RV & Campground

Region: Mariposa, Midpines and Cathey’s Valley

Budget: $

Surrounded by the lush pine forests of Midpines, the Mariposa KOA is located just 25 miles from Yosemite’s Arch Rock Entrance.

This campground is the closest KOA to Yosemite Valley, and it is perfect to use as your base camp while visiting Yosemite National Park.

Learn more about Mariposa KOA

Mariposa Fairground RV Park and Campgrounds

Type: RV & Campground

Region: Mariposa, Midpines and Cathey’s Valley

Budget: $

Nestled near the western edge of Yosemite National Park in the town of Mariposa, within a landscaped camping area, Mariposa Fairgrounds provides a safe and comfortable setting for larger groups and families. The site not only happily accommodates RV and motorcycle rallies, but tent campers and caravans as well.

In addition to its numerous amenities and features, Mariposa Fairgrounds also offers paved, graveled and sheltered areas to campers during inclement weather. Individual camping is first-come first-serve, while all groups must make a reservation.

Learn more about Mariposa Fairgrounds

Get Directions

More Yosemite Camping

For more camping options, both in and around Yosemite National Park, visit our Camping and Campgrounds page, which will allow you to filter sites by region, budget, pet friendliness and – if you just can’t be without – even internet access. And, when you’re ready to hit the trail, be sure to check out our super-helpful maps page for the best hikes, amenities and general guides to Yosemite Mariposa County and the surrounding region.

Happy camping!