Upper Pines Campground is located in Yosemite National Park. It is one of the three campgrounds at Yosemite Valley, along with North Pines and Lower Pines. It has 238 campsites, making it the largest campground out of the three. Many ask, “what are the best times to visit Upper Pines Campground Yosemite National Park, California?”
The best times to visit Upper Pines depend on your preferred activity. If you want to have fun outdoors with family and friends, camping here is open throughout the year. But if you’re looking for some solitude, avoid the May to September peak season. For hiking and sightseeing wildflowers, May through October are the best times to visit.
Yosemite National Park can take your outdoor adventure to another level. That is due to various activities you can do in this amazing location. Bask in the majestic view of the mountains while under the shade of tall pine and cedars. Make sure to check out the important things to remember during your stay.
Best Time to Camp in Upper Pines Campground
One excellent thing about camping in Upper Pines Campground is that you can practically do it any time of the year. Of course, you can expect to have more camping neighbors during the peak season. It is the perfect time to enjoy a communal vibe while being surrounded by breathtaking views. If you choose to do it in winter, make sure you have the proper gear to ensure you are comfortable in the cold.
Whichever month you choose to visit, you’ll be in for an awesome trip at Upper Pines. Imagine waking up and climbing out of your tent. Then, the first thing you will see before you are fully awake is Yosemite’s superb views. From your campsite, feast your eyes on Yosemite’s highlights, such as El Capitan.
Another remarkable thing about camping in Upper Pines is that it is close to Curry Village. With this in mind, you won’t have to worry about running out of some provisions during your stay. There are also various amenities to make you comfortable.
Indeed, Upper Pines Campground is incredibly popular for camping. For this reason, you might want to book in advance if you intend to visit in May through September. Reservations for these months usually fill up early. As much as possible, plan your trip five months ahead.
Best Time to Enjoy Solitude in Upper Pines Campground
The best times to visit Upper Pines Campground Yosemite National Park are during off-peak seasons. That is an excellent time to enjoy solitude and get away from the city noise.
Book your reservation for November through April. January statistically is the quietest month. You can still enjoy the sceneries of Yosemite while going for solo hikes during these months.
Winter is the snow and solitude season at the Upper Pines campground. At 4,000 ft. elevation, you can expect a 53 to 28 degree Fahrenheit temperature. The fogs fill the mountain top. As they clear, you will have an overview of the campground.
You might also encounter some chilly and sunny days. Despite the weather, you can still enjoy some activities during your stay. Rivers and waterfalls tend to have low water levels. Once the rain and snow falls, you can make your merry way to Yosemite Falls and admire its impressive plunge. It would be the ideal place to engage all your senses and be connected with nature.
Of course, you want to make sure that you’re geared up for your winter solo trip at Upper Pines . Bring your all-season tent or bags, and be in your winter shoes and clothes. Heavy-duty blankets, such as Arcturus and Teton’s mummy sleeping bag, can keep you warm at night.
Best Time to Hike in Upper Pines Campground
Upper Pines Campground Yosemite National Park is open year-round. But you might want to choose the best time for hiking and sightseeing. So you can go through the hiking trails in Upper Pines without any problem. May through October are the best times to visit.
If you are looking to hike during your stay, you can take the challenging Half Dome– a 12-hour hike. The Half Dome’s cables are set up from May through October. These metal cables are your only access to Half Dome’s summit, which is 400-feet away. As challenging as it sounds, getting into this infamous cable will take you to 4,800 elevations. Imagine how much you can see from that vantage point.
You will need to get a permit before you can hike to Half Dome. As a day hiker, you can get a permit through a lottery at Recreation.gov. You can apply as early as March for the preseason lottery. This way, you can plan early for your Upper Pines campground trip, including hiking to Half Dome’s peak.
You can choose Glacier Point if you prefer a reflective and less challenging type of hike. It is accessible from the Upper Pines campground by car, then a little walk to reach the summit. Once you get there, you will have a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley. As well as Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Yosemite’s high country.
Best Time to See Wildflowers in Upper Pines Campground
Among the things that your eyes will feast on Upper Pines are the wildflowers. With its varying elevation, you can spot wildflowers throughout the year. Spring is the best time to visit Upper Pines Campground Yosemite National Park, California, to see wildflowers.
Best Time to Sightsee in Upper Pines Campground
It would be disappointing if you plan for a day trip and arrive at the location in the pouring rain. As mentioned, the best times to visit Upper Pines Campground depends on your activities. Although, typically, Yosemite receives 95% precipitation between October to May. And, between November to March, the park receives 75% of its total precipitation.
So, what is the best time if you wish to avoid the rain and enjoy the scenery? Make sure to plan your day trip between June and September. The weather is also warmer during these months, so it’s comfortable to walk around. After this trip, you will surely plan for a longer stay at the Upper Pines campground.
3 Tips to Fully Enjoy Your Trip
You now know the best times to visit Upper Pines. So what’s next? Here are some important things you need to remember during your stay there:
1. Early Reservation
Considering the site’s popularity, it might be difficult to look for a site during the peak season. Choose your vacation month depending on the activities that you want to do. Then, you can reserve a campsite in advance, for up to five months ahead.
But here’s the tricky part: reservation for camps opens on the 15th of every month, 7 AM PST. And since campsites are extremely popular, they sell out within minutes of opening. If you wish to get the first dibs, mark this date and time, and log in to your account before 7 AM PST.
2. Expect an Early Start
Sleeping in sounds like a great idea at the comforts of home on your off-work weekend. But, not in Upper Pines, especially during the peak season.
You can expect your campground neighbors to start their day early. Some might even go up before sunrise to get to the popular hikes before everyone else does. With all the fun things to do and explore at Yosemite Valley, you might as well start the day early.
3. Store Your Food and Keep Your Campsite Clean
Though popular and busy during the peak seasons, Upper Pines Campground is still part of the wild. Don’t worry. You won’t encounter grizzly bears there or anywhere else in California. However, you might need to watch out for foraging black bears.
There are several hundred black bears that live in Yosemite National Park. Fortunately, there’s no reports of fatalities or injuries. Still, black bears tend to show aggression when protecting cubs or food.
To prevent bear-related accidents, secure your food in storage containers. Bears can smell food miles away. Moreover, keep other items with strong scents sealed. That may include toothpaste, sunscreen, canned beer and alcohol.
Once you stow these items away, make sure your campsite is clean. Make it odor-free to prevent hungry bears from wandering near your area.
If you ever spot a bear in a remote place, keep your distance at least 50 feet away. If it enters a nearby campground, make your presence big and loud by yelling and waving your arms. After scaring it away, make sure to secure your food and toiletries in storage.
When planning for your trip, check out the activities you are interested in. You can camp and hike with family and friends or just travel solo. You might also just sightsee and look for wildflowers. Regardless, knowing the best times to visit Upper Pines Campground Yosemite National Park California will make your trip worth it.