Lower Pines Campground

Lower Pines Campground is one of the three Yosemite camping sites located in the picturesque Yosemite National Park. It is situated at an elevation of 4000 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Central California.

The site occupies a central location in the Yosemite National Park and it has awe-inspiring and beautiful natural sights all around. These include deep valleys, waterfalls, granite cliffs, meadows, sequoias, wilderness, and more. Other campgrounds in the Yosemite National Park include Upper Pines, North Pines, Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona Crane Flat, and Hodgdon Meadow.

Yosemite camping sites are forested land with ponderosa pine, black oak, incense-cedar, white leaf Manzanita, and white fir trees. These tall trees offer a mix of filtered sun and shade that makes your stay a pleasant experience. Lower Pines campground is situated on the bank of the Merced River.

ATTENTION: In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions have been imposed on the entry and stay at all the National Parks including Yosemite National Park. The www.recreation.gov site has a notice on the Lower Pines page that says there is no new release of campsite reservation will be made in the next 30 days. 

If you have a permit for day-use at any of the camping grounds, you will have to show a copy of your reservation at the entrance of Yosemite National Park. It’s better to keep a printout or PDF download of your reservation on your phone to show the park officials. You will need to pay the park entrance fees. 

General Information: Lower Pines Campground

Lower Pines Campground at Yosemite has 60 campsites located next to the Merced River. The campground is open round the year and has a busy season from April to October.

However, it is important to note that all the 3 campgrounds at Yosemite National Park including Lower Pines are heavily crowded during the peak season that is from May to October. So, be prepared for camping in a somewhat noisy environment.

Lower Pines Campground in Yosemite has a decent infrastructure for a comfortable stay. These include paved roads, parking, drinking water, flush toilets, and an amphitheater. Each campsite features a food storage locker, a picnic table, and a fire ring. The only thing you may miss is an electricity hookup.

These campsites are offered to single families with a maximum of 6 people. You can station your RV (40 ft) or Trailer (35 ft) or pitch your tent. Each of these campsites has a picnic table, fire ring, and a food storage locker.

At walking distance from the campground entrance, the famous erstwhile Curry Village is located with its new name Half Dome Village. Here, you can find a few restaurants, a general store, and a bar. You can also find some activity operators who organize nature rides, skiing, and wildlife viewing tours, among many other activities. You can also find a WiFi point here.  

Checkin/Checkout Time

Check-in, as well as checkout time, is 12 pm. You can arrive any time in the afternoon but you must formally check-in before 10 am the next day, which is after your first night. If you fail to check-in by the designated time, your reservation may be canceled.

Utilities

There is no electricity hook up in any of the Yosemite National Park campgrounds. You are not allowed to connect to any electrical or water outlets.  

Wastewater Disposal

There are designated utility drains for the disposal of camp wastewater. Similarly, there is a designated dump station for the disposal of sewage. You should scrupulously use these facilities for waste disposal.

Clotheslines, Slacklines, Hammocks …

There is no restriction on the temporary installation of clotheslines, slacklines, and hammocks as long as they are padded and do not harm the trees. However, they should not be attached to oak trees. They should also not be creating hazardous situations on the campsite.  

Generator and Quiet Hours

Visitors to the Lower Pines Campground in Yosemite can use their generators during a 2-hour window in the morning (7 am to 9 am), afternoon (12 pm to 2 pm), and evening (5 pm to 7 pm). The quiet hours are observed from 10 pm to 6 am.

Camping Limit

You can stay for a maximum of 30 nights at Yosemite National Park. During the peak season from May 1 to September 15, you can’t stay for more than 14 nights at the park. Out of these 14 nights, you can spend only 7 at Yosemite Valley where the Lower Pines campground is located.  

Firewood Collection

You can collect firewood from within the campground boundary. You can also bring firewood from outside the Yosemite valley but it should be thicker than 6 inches in diameter. You can’t collect firewood from Yosemite National Park.

Visitors are also barred from bringing firewood from more than a distance of 50 miles to prevent the spread of pests. You should purchase charcoal or firewood from the store near the campground. You are not allowed to collect cones, pine needles, or sequoia wood.  

Amenities

Yosemite National Park camping has the following amenities at its campgrounds:

  • Shuttle Bus Service
  • Drinking-Water
  • Fire Rings
  • Flush Toilets
  • Amphitheater
  • Campfire Rings
  • Campground Host
  • Firewood Available
  • Dump Station
  • Equestrian trail

Activities

Yosemite National Park camping offers the following activities at its campgrounds:

  • Nature Programs
  • Wilderness Visit
  • Archeological Sites
  • Visitor Center
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Backpacking
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Non-motorized Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Biking
  • Historic Sites
  • Climbing
  • Horseback riding
  • Bird Watching
  • Creek
  • Fishing
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Stargazing
  • Photography
  • River
  • Rafting
  • Nature Trails
  • Rock Climbing
  • Walking Trails
  • Tubing

Regulations: Lower Pines Campground

Visitors per site: Not more than 6 persons including kids are allowed per campsite. However, you can pitch as many tents as your site can allow.

Fires: From May to September, guests are allowed to make a campfire from 5 pm to 10 pm. Charcoal fires are allowed at any time. Wood fires are permitted at any time between October and April.

Pets: You can bring your pets but they must be on a leash at all times.

Food storage: You should keep your food and beverages stored in the food locker.

How to Make Reservations: Lower Pines Campground

You need a reservation for a stay at the campgrounds in the Yosemite National Park because even the first come first served campsites are taken by 10 am.

Campsites at Lower Pines are available for reservation up to 5 months in advance. The campsites are offered for block reservation on the 15th of every month starting at 7 am (Pacific Time). But you need to be extremely alert and quick to push with your reservation because these campsites get booked within minutes once the reservation opens. It’s a good idea that you are ready with the booking process before the booking actually starts.  

You can choose from several options to make your reservation. 

You should visit the campground website.

Or call 209-372-8502

In a single visit to the website or phone call, you can make a maximum of two reservations. However, you can revisit the site or make the call again for an additional reservation. Visitors who could not get a reservation can look out for cancellation to take a chance with campsites reserved for first come first served.

Changes & Cancellations: Lower Pines Campground

No-shows incur a service fee of $20 and the price of the first night. If the reservation is canceled in the last 48 hours, a transaction fee of $10 and the price of the first night will be charged. But if the cancellation is done over 48 hours in advance, only a transaction fee of $10 will be charged.

Are the Campgrounds Well Maintained?

Typically, all the amenities including bathrooms and toilets are well maintained and stocked with toilet papers and soaps. However, when the campground is full of people, the supplies get exhausted soon. So, you should keep your toilet paper and soaps for such situations. In the nearby villages, there are shower stalls that charge $5 and offer unlimited water and a towel. They are open 24/7 but remain busy from 6 am to 10 am. You should also bring some mosquito repellents to prevent mosquito bites.

Are the Staff Friendly and Helpful? 

The campground host and rangers are helpful and supportive. But they are professionals who have to be strict with rules. So, they will not allow you what is not allowed at the campsites and the park.

Are the Facilities Clean?

The showers and bathrooms are clean most of the time. But during busy hours in peak season, there are hundreds of people in line to use these facilities that virtually leave no time for cleaning.

Useful Tips

  • This campground is a great option for first-timers and families
  • Keep your campsite and surrounding areas clean
  • Keep your food locked up in the food storage
  • There are several hundred black bears who are on the prowl eyeing your food

Bring Earplugs

Although there are only 60 campsites, it can get pretty crowded and noisy during the busy season. Bring your earplugs if you would like to have some quiet moments.

Summary

Lower Pine Campground at Yosemite National Park is an extremely beautiful camping site. You must visit the place and spend a few nights here to savor nature at its best. The campground is complete with basic facilities for a comfortable outdoor stay. So, rush for the booking and secure a campsite for you and your family.