Tuolumne Meadows campground in Yosemite offers excellent opportunities for high country campsite living. Located at 8500 feet, the 2-mile long grassy Tuolumne Meadows Yosemite along the Tuolumne River is a stunning beauty surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Visitors to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite can expect to live in the meadows surrounded by granite domes, lakes, waterfalls, and under a sky full of stars. During the day, all these attractions can be accessed by a short hike.
Tuolumne Meadows is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. There are hiking trails going in all directions from the edges of the meadow. There are alpine lakes, waterfalls, and granite domes and summits that offer commanding views of the high country. Tuolumne is one of the finest playgrounds for backpackers, hikers, and rafters. But it’s also a great spot for visitors who want nothing but the natural beauty and sceneries.
It is about 55 miles or 2 hours drive from the Yosemite Valley which is a virtual hub of all tourist activities in the summer. Both Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley have separate free shuttle bus services that connect important nearby locations. Even Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley are connected by regular bus service.
General information about Tuolumne Meadows
There are 370 campsites at Tuolumne Meadows Campground where tent and RV living is allowed. Half of the campsites are available for reservation while the remaining half is set aside for visitors under the first come first serve scheme.
Reservations are nonspecific, meaning you will be allotted a campsite after you arrive at the campground. However, the campground is full of visitors every night during summer.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground offers a basic but comfortable tent or RV stay. Each campsite has a picnic table, a fire-ring, and a food-storage. The campground also has flush toilets, a dump station, and drinking water facilities.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground has a standard RV and tent campsites. Besides, it has horse camps, group camps, and backpackers’ camp. The campsites may not be able to accommodate the maximum length of RVs. So, before you move in with your RV, call up the office of Tuolumne Meadows Campground or check its website for exact specifications.
There is a famous general store here called Tuolumne Meadows Store which has the curious distinction of being located at the highest elevation in the California state. You can find groceries, clothing, maps, guidebooks, and bug repellent, among other things.
The store is housed in a canvas tent. Under the same tent, the famous eatery Tuolumne Meadows Grill is located. It serves breakfasts, lunches, buckwheat pancakes, and ice creams. At the meadow’s visitor center, exhibits of historical, geological, and natural history are on display.
Check-in and Checkout Time
The check-in and checkout time is 12 noon. Visitors with reservations can arrive anytime afternoon but they must contact the site office before 10 am the next day. Failing to do so may result in cancellation of the reservation and forfeiture of the reservation fee.
Campers are not allowed to hook up any electricity or water source of the Yosemite National Park. The campsite is a non-electric facility but drinking water and toilet facilities are available within the campground.
The campground has utility drains where wastewater should be disposed of. Similarly, a dump station is provided to dispose of sewage. You should use these facilities and dispose of the waste at designated spots.
Clotheslines, Slacklines, Hammocks, etc.
You may use hammocks, clotheslines, and other tensioned lines as long as they don’t harm the flora and fauna of the park. Tuolumne Meadows don’t have many trees to help you with the tensioned wires. If at all you want to use them, you can.
Generator and Quiet Hours
From 10 pm to 6 am, the park observes quiet hours. In the daytime, campers can run their generators from 7 am to 9 am, noon to 2 pm, and 5 pm to 7 pm.
Campers are allowed to spend a maximum of 30 days in the Yosemite National Park. However, between May 1 and September 15, campers are not allowed to spend more than 14 nights in the Yosemite National Park. For the exact rules, you should contact the office of Tuolumne Meadows Campground.
No one is allowed to collect firewood from the Yosemite National Park. But campers can collect firewood within the boundary of the campground. You can bring firewood and charcoal from nearby shops as long as the diameter of the firewood is not more than 6 inches. Also, you are not allowed to bring firewood from a distance of more than 50 miles. This restriction is aimed at preventing the spread of outside tree-killing pests.
Tuolumne Meadows campground – Amenities
· Campground Host
· Restrooms (Flush Toilets)
· Picnic Tables
· Fire Rings
· Fire Pit
· Firewood Available
· Campsite Tables
· Dump Station
· Equestrian trail
· Food Storage Locker
Yosemite National Park is replete with natural attractions. Most of these places can be easily accessed by a free shuttle bus service that originates from the Yosemite National Valley. However, you can also hike to some of the tourist attractions located near Tuolumne Meadows campground.
Here is a list of attractions that’s close to your campsite. You should try some of them while you are camping at Yosemite National Park.
· Nature Programs
· Visitor Center
· Wilderness Area
· Archeological Sites
· Wildlife Viewing
· Cross Country Skiing
· Historic Sites
· Horseback riding
· Bird Watching
· Mountain Biking
· Nature Trails
· Rock Climbing
· Walking Trails
· Mirror Lake
· Half Dome
· Tour the Valley
· Wilderness centers
· Merced River
· Glacier Point
· Yosemite Valley
· Nature Center
· Nevada Falls
· History Programs
· Photography walks
· Art classes
· History tours
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – Regulations
A maximum of 6 people including kids and two vehicles are allowed per campsite. There are 7 Group Sites that can accommodate 13 to 30 people. For each group site, a maximum of 5 vehicles is allowed. Group Sites do not allow RVs, trailers, or pets. Tuolumne Meadows has Horse Campsites. These sites are open between early July and September. Campers living in these sites must have come with their horses. Backpackers’ campgrounds are also available for hikers with wilderness permits. For them, a reservation is not needed. Their wilderness permit entitles them to spend here one night before and after a wilderness trip.
Fires: Wood fires are permitted at any time from October to April. Visitors can make campfires between 5 pm and 10 pm.
Pets: You can bring your pets but they must be on a leash as long as they are in the park.
Food storage: You must keep your food and beverages stored in the food storage provided at your campsite.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – How to make a reservation
Tuolumne Meadows campground in Yosemite is operated by the Yosemite National Park and reservations can be made via the park’s website (https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm). You can also contact the campground office at (209) 372-4025. Recorded messages about the status of reservation can be heard by calling (209) 372-0266. For the reservation of Horse Camp, you need to call (877) 444-6777.
The Yosemite National Park is an extremely busy tourist destination during the peak season that falls in summer. Finding a reservation that starts as early as 5 months in advance is very difficult. You need to be extremely alert and quick in pushing your reservation as soon as it opens. The reservation opens on the 15th of every month, and it gets sold out within minutes. So, be alert if you don’t want to be disappointed.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – changes and cancellations
No-shows are charged $20 and the fee for the first night. Cancellation within the last 48 hours is charged $10 as a transaction fee and fee for the first night. Cancellations before 48 hours are charged only $10 as a transaction fee.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – How well the campground is kept by the staff
The Yosemite National Park staff who manage the Tuolumne Meadows campground keep the facilities in top condition. Toilets and bathrooms are clean and stocked with toilet papers and hand wash.
However, during the peak tourist season, there are about 2000 people sharing the facilities and they tend to get dirty soon. But the park’s staff are prompt in cleaning the facilities.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – How Friendly and Helpful the Staff Is?
The staff at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite are extremely courteous, friendly, and professional. While they try to help you in all possible ways, they also caution you against violating any rule.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – How Clean the Facilities Are?
The facilities are well maintained by the staff who are extremely committed to their jobs. So, expect the toilets and showers clean most of the time. You can also expect enough toiletries all the time. But these facilities, sometimes, seem to be giving in to pressure from the increased number of visitors.
Attention: Due to the restrictions in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the park is open only from 8 am to 5 pm. No overnight is allowed at the moment. Even the showers are non-functional.
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – Useful Tips
· Tuolumne Meadows Campground camping is great for hikers, backpackers, and rafters.
· It can be a good choice even for families and first-timer.
· Keep your food locked up in the food storage at your campsite
Tuolumne Meadows Campground – Summery
Tuolumne Meadows Yosemite is quite large and there is always a lot of space for you. It’s a different feeling living here compared to more famous camping sites at the Yosemite Valley. Its elevation is at least twice as much as of the Yosemite Valley. The place has a good population of a black bear who is on the prowl of your food. So keep your food locked inside the food storage. To enjoy the place, keep your campsite clean at all times.