Glamping or Backcountry Hike-ins: Camping in Yosemite National Park

The Yosemite National Park Camping Experience

Yosemite is known for its impressive sites. From Half Dome to El Capitan, the sky-scraping granite cliffs are breathtaking. The ancient sequoias tower over visitors while the powerful waterfalls inspire awe in all who witness them. Yosemite is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed. And, if you’re looking for the full Yosemite experience, you won’t want to leave the park. And, you don’t have to.

Across Yosemite National Park you’ll find thirteen dedicated campgrounds with varying ease of access and locations. No matter where you choose to stay, there’s one thing that’s certain. You’ll get incredible views and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.

While much of what you need to stay will be provided at all of these campsites, it’s important to bring your own basics. If you forget something, there might be a nearby store where you can purchase it. These are the general supplies we recommend bringing with you for a stay at any of these properties:

  • Flashlight or headlamp and batteries
  • Extra layers including a rain jacket and warm coat—even in the summer
  • Shower shoes for the public community showers and walks to the restroom
  • Padlock for your food storage locker
  • Closeable plastic food containers to store in the locker
  • Sleeping bag—even in the summer
  • A book or fully charged e-reader
  • Ear plugs for additional sleeping support
  • Water bottle that you can refill
  • Hiking shoes and outdoor gear appropriate for activities

Below, you’ll find information about a number of the campgrounds, which will provide experiences from glamping to backcountry camping so you can figure out which is right for you.

Curry Village

Season: Year-round

Curry Village has it all, standard hotel rooms, wood cabins, and canvas tent cabins. Pick your perfect accommodations for a stay in this warm, hospitable location just below Glacier Point. In Curry Village, you’ll also find an outdoor swimming pool, gift shop, and multiple nearby dining options.

If you’re planning to camp and stay in the canvas tent cabins, you’ll want to make sure you have all the right gear. The tent cabins share public shower houses and restrooms and also provide guests with bear-proof storage lockers for food and toiletries. If you do find yourself in need of something you forgot, head to the Curry Village Gift and Grocery where you can find most things you might need.

For your stay in the Curry Village canvas tent cabins, you can choose between heated and unheated accommodations.

Canvas Tent Cabins — Unheated

These tent cabins accommodate 2 to 5 guests with a shared central shower and bathroom. The cabins are made of a wood frame and wrapped in canvas. While you’ll have electric lights, there are no outlets, phones, TVs, or plumbing. For your stay, you’ll get sheets, wool blankets, pillows, and towels.

Canvas Tent Cabins — Heated

The heated tent cabins accommodate 2 to 4 guests with a shared shower and bathroom. These accommodations are only available in the winter months. The provided heater keeps the entire tent cabin warm.

Housekeeping Camp

Season: April to October (pending conditions)

If you love the idea of camping and sleeping outside, but don’t want to set up your own tent, Housekeeping Camp is the perfect place for you to stay. The campground is perched alongside the Merced River, which flows through the middle of Yosemite Valley. The beauty of the campground is unparalleled—you’ll get to wake up each morning with views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

The units where you’ll stay are three-sided concrete structures with canvas roofs and privacy curtains inside to separate the structure into “rooms.” Each unit features two electrical outlets, one inside the sleeping area and one outside. There are electric lights inside and outside. You’ll also have a shaded porch area and fire ring for cooking on.

During the day, you can head into the park to enjoy its many sights and activities or hang around the campground on the sandy beach of the riverbank.

Standard Unit

Each unit can sleep up to 6 guests with a bunk bed and double bed. Inside the unit, you’ll also find a table, chairs, mirror, electric light, and outlet. You can rent blankets, sheets, and pillows, or bring your own. The units have no TVs or telephones. ADA units are available.

River Unit

The River Unit at Housekeeping Camp features all of the same amenities, but is closer to the Merced River, so you can enjoy the sounds of water throughout your entire stay.

White Wolf Lodge

Season: Year-round

The beauty of Yosemite National Park is that you can truly get away from it all, while still sleeping in comfort. White Wolf Lodge, ensconced in a wildflower-filled meadow, surrounded by pine trees with an atmosphere of absolute tranquility, is the epitome of that.

Located thirty miles from Yosemite Valley, you’ll find the remote, peaceful White Wolf Lodge. While this puts you almost an hour drive from the center of the park, it’s the place to start for some amazing hiking. If you’re interested in hiking to Lukens Lake or Harden Lake, White Wolf Lodge is the perfect starting point.

At White Wolf Lodge, you’ll find 24 canvas tent cabins and 4 traditional wood cabins with private bathrooms. Breakfast and lunch are served in a rustic, wooden building which serves as the central dining room. Guests can’t cook inside or outside their cabins in order to keep the wildlife wild.

Canvas Tent Cabins

The canvas tent cabins sleep up to 4 people and have a wood frame wrapped in canvas. Inside you’ll find beds, sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and a wood-burning stove. Nearby, you’ll find showers and bathrooms. The cabins have no electricity.

Traditional, Wood Cabins with Private Bathroom

The traditional, wood cabins have a private bathroom, propane heaters, a desk, a chair, a dresser, and two double beds. Linens and towels are provided. Cleaning staff will clean cabins daily. There’s electricity in the cabins for light and heat.

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Season: mid-June to mid-September

Located near the Tuolumne River at over 8,700 feet above sea level you’ll find Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. If you’re planning an extended backpacking trip or hiking, the lodge is the perfect start or end point to your journey. Throughout the day, you can join on ranger-led hikes or enjoy a campfire program in the evening.

Canvas Tent Cabins

The cabins are constructed with metal frames and cement platforms and can accommodate up to 4 guests. The cabins have no electricity, TVs, or phones. You’ll find shared showers and bathrooms in the center of the camp. Each cabin comes with twin beds or a double bed. Linens and towels are provided. For warmth, guests have a wood-burning stove and firewood.

High Sierra Camps

The most remote of the camps in Yosemite are the High Sierra Camps. These camps are accessible only by foot or mule, meaning you’re surrounded by nothing but nature during your stay.

The beauty of the High Sierra Camps is that it allows guests to explore the backcountry with only a day pack. You get the experience of a multi-day backpacking trip without all the heavy gear. Each camp is spread out about 6 to 10 miles apart along a loop trail. Each day, you set out and head to the next camp. Guided mule and hiking trips are available.

Each camp has its own unique amenities and beauty.

Glen Aulin
The Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp is nestled next to the pool of a waterfall that’s part of the Tuolumne River. During your stay, be sure to enjoy the sunset as it colors the sky and Mount Conness in the distance.

May Lake
Perched high in the mountains, you’ll find the May Lake High Sierra Camp. This camp is accessible from a strenuous, uphill hike, just over a mile long. Once you’re there, you’ll get to enjoy views of a pristine lake where you can fish, relax, and enjoy the sunset.

As the name would suggest, Sunrise Camp is known for one thing: unimaginably beautiful sunrises. The camp faces east toward the mountain range, as the sun peaks over the top, you’ll get a once-in-a-lifetime-view. The camp sits at 9,400 feet and has access to incredible hiking.

Merced Lake

As the most remote of the High Sierra Camps, Merced Lake is a favorite among visitors. Most people stay a day or two to enjoy the site’s amenities, spending their days swimming, fishing, and resting along the shore. The camp is generally warmer and open for long into the season because it’s located at a lower elevation than other camps along the loop.

At just over 10,000 feet, you’ll find Vogelsang Camp, which is the highest-elevation camp along the loop trail. This camp is a great basecamp for exploring the nearby alpine lakes, such as Evelyn Lake, Ireland Lake, Boothe Lake, Emeric Lake, and Vogelsang Lake. While the site is a dramatic step up from tent camping, be aware there are no showers here.

One of the best aspects of Yosemite National Park is that there’s something for everyone. If you’re interested to try out camping but aren’t yet ready to stay in a tent and sleep on the ground, one of these campgrounds might be the perfect middle-ground for you. Or, if you’re interested in exploring the backcountry, but don’t want to carry all of your own gear, the High Sierra Camps provide you with access unparalleled anywhere else. Yosemite National Park has so much beauty and wonders to offer, don’t miss your chance to enjoy it all.

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