Whether you’re traveling solo, or with a group, you’ll want to know where to stay when you visit Yosemite. A visit to Yosemite National Park can expose people of every age to breathtaking natural beauty.
This rugged open space is the remedy for months spent in tightly packed cities. There are several options for those who wish to stay in the park and enjoy all that it has to offer.
What kinds of accommodations are available in Yosemite?
There are several kinds of places available for you to stay in Yosemite. You can request one of the following:
- A standard room at a hotel like Yosemite Valley Lodge, with WiFi
- A campsite designed for RVs
- A campsite where you can pitch your tent
- An accessible campsite at campgrounds like Lower Pines
- A rustic wooden cabin at a resort like Curry Village
- A campsite where you can sleep in your car
- A back country camping spot
Please note that while you’re allowed to sleep in your car or RV at a campsite, you’re not allowed to do so elsewhere. For example, you can’t pull off the road and sleep in your vehicle. Doing so can result in a citation.
Can you stay at Yosemite for free?
You can enter Yosemite for free on certain special days of each year. For example, in some years, the park offers free entrance to all visitors on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King day.
It usually costs $15 per person, or $30 per car, to enter Yosemite. Getting an annual pass for $60 is the best option for frequent campers.
An individual campsite starts at $6 per night. If you’re camping as part of a group, it can work out better for you. Groups pay up to $50 per night.
While planning for your trip, it’s important to note that showers are not available at each campground. You’ll have to go elsewhere, such as to the Housekeeping Camp, to shower. You’ll be charged around $5 per shower.
How early do you need to book your accommodations?
If you think you’ll need to stay overnight at Yosemite, make a reservation. During the coronavirus pandemic, first come, first served camping will not be available at Yosemite. The availability of accommodations in Yosemite varies according to the season.
It’s important to plan your trip ahead of time, and make your bookings at your desired campground or hotel. Even if you’re planning to camp in your RV, you’ll need to secure your spot early.
There are 13 campgrounds at Yosemite. There are also other types of accommodations in the valley, such as Curry Village. Popular campgrounds at Yosemite include:
- Crane Flat
- Hodgdon Meadow
- Upper Pines
- Tuolumne Meadows
You can book a campsite for a block of up to a month at a time and you can make your booking up to five months before your arrival date.
Bookings start on the 15th of every month at 7 a.m. Pacific time. Usually at this time, people call in to start booking immediately, so sites can be booked fully within an hour.
Calling is not the only option. You can also visit Recreation.gov to book a campsite. Both methods are extremely competitive. It’s recommended that you set a reminder, so you’re ready the second that bookings open.
Can you get a campsite without a reservation?
Usually, there would be several campgrounds that have campsites available on a first come, first served basis. You would have had to go to the reservation office at each of these campgrounds to register. These include:
- White Wolf
- Bridalveil Creek
- Tamarack Flat
- Yosemite Creek
- Porcupine Flat
Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things have changed. Until further notice, you now have to make a reservation to stay at the park.
Where to stay at Yosemite in your RV
If you like to camp in your RV, there are lots of campsites at Yosemite that may be right for you. RV campsite bookings are made to match the length of your camper van. For example, some sites accommodate vehicles up to 35 feet long.
The maximum RV length is 40 feet and the maximum trailer length is 35 feet at any campsite. This doesn’t mean that you’ll find a campsite easily if you’re driving an RV. Book at least two months in advance to ensure that you get a campsite.
Most of the RV sites have cooking areas. This makes it easy for you to save on meals while you’re camping, but if you decide to cook stove and charcoal cooking are permitted in Yosemite 24 hours per day.
While charcoal is allowed, it’s not exactly convenient. Using a gas grill allows you to prepare all kinds of food. You will have less hassle with cleaning up as well.
The Masterbuilt stainless steel gas grill makes it easy for you to prepare food outdoors at Yosemite. It has folding legs, which make it easy to transport, and can easily be used on a table.
A Camco gas grill can also be easily used to prepare your meals while you enjoy the stars. This can be connected to the low pressure supply on your RV. Both of these grills are available on Amazon.
There are RV camping sites at several campgrounds, including:
- Lower Pines
- North Pines
- Upper Pines
- Bridalveil Creek
If your RV is closer to the maximum allowed length, you’ll have to camp at Lower Pines or North Pines. There are only six large campsites at each of these two, so book early.
All campgrounds don’t have dump stations, but one is available at Upper Pines, and the other campgrounds. While you can use your generator, this is restricted to specific hours of each day.
What is a back country camping spot?
If you go on an overnight hike, you may end up camping in the wilderness or back country. This still attracts a cost, but it’s less expensive than spending the night at a campsite that has amenities.
A wilderness permit is required for your overnight hike. You must reserve a wilderness permit in advance. Only a certain number of hikers can leave out from each trail-head, so the permits go really quickly.
The back country is not a less competitive option than a regular campsite. If you know that you want to spend time hiking and camping in the wilderness, aim to reserve your permit months in advance.
Where to stay at Yosemite with Service Animals
For your dog to be considered a service animal, they must meet the definition set by the National Park Service. That is, they must perform a specific task that helps a park visitor who has a disability. If you have a disability, your dog can go anywhere in the park that you can go.
While service animals must be permitted by law on any campsite you choose, in Yosemite, there are several campsites that offer more. These accessible campsites are distributed throughout Yosemite Valley, Tioga Road, and Wawona.
The campgrounds have accessible paths of travel that you can use with your service animal. Bathrooms are accessible, and some of the campsites have raised platforms for your tents.
When selecting a campsite, you may want to consider those that are closest to the attractions that interest you most. For example, Lower Yosemite Falls is very accessible to tourists in wheelchairs. The trail is paved, and a wheelchair accessible restroom is nearby.
Lower Pines campground is one of the closest to Lower Yosemite Falls. Sites #6, 7, and 13 are all accessible. It is cool, and has paved roads. Drinking water is available, and there’s an amphitheater. Flush toilets are provided.
Site #13, 14, and 18 at Lower Pines are also accessible. You can also enjoy accessible camping at Yosemite by booking campsites in Upper Pines and North Pines. Several accessible campsites are available at each of these campgrounds, and you need to request them specifically when you call to make your booking.
Where to stay near Yosemite with a Group
Group accommodations near Yosemite make it easy to go on holiday with your church, school, or voluntary organization. These all help to create a sense of community when you’re on vacation.
A group campsite costs at least $40 per night. If you need a smaller, family site, that will cost you about $26 or more per night. The cost varies according to the amenities that are offered at the campground. For example, some may have drinking water and flush toilets.
Hotels and resorts near Yosemite
The idea of camping out under the stars is appealing to many people. If this doesn’t suit you, there are hotels available. These also help when all the campgrounds are full.
Yosemite Valley Lodge, Curry Village, and Wawona Hotel, are just a few of the options available to you. These all vary in price, and some offer more luxury than others. All offer amenities which will help your group to stay relaxed during your vacation.
Yosemite Valley Lodge offers guests a relaxing atmosphere. This cozy setting makes it easy to observe the waterfalls at night or day. WiFi is provided, so you can upload photographs from your trip.
You can relax in the lounge, and you won’t need to cook, since meals are available at the restaurant. A regular shuttle makes it easy to get around the park. Your group can enjoy hiking, golfing, and winter sports during your stay.
Curry Village may bring images of steaming curry and rice to mind but it’s actually named after its founders. Curry Village is inside Yosemite Valley, and this resort offers lots of amenities that you’ll enjoy.
Your group can choose canvas tent cabins, wood cabins, or standard hotel rooms. If you have a really large party, this resort is your best bet, since it’s the biggest accommodation in Yosemite.
You’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag. We recommend the Marmot Trestles cold weather sleeping bag from Amazon. This keeps you warm at really low temperatures, and it’s zipper makes it easy to get into after a long day of hiking.
Wawona Hotel is a historic hotel, that’s built in a European style. You’ll sleep in traditional hotel rooms, while three meals a day are provided in their dining room. Your group will enjoy panoramic views of Yosemite there.
There’s a lot to do within the hotel. Work on your golf game at their course, take a swim and cool off on hot summer days or head over to the tennis courts that are open for you to enjoy.
Where to stay near Yosemite National Park – Free Campsites
If you want to know where to stay in Yosemite National Park during your vacation, check out free campsites. Many free camping areas aren’t as well known as popular campgrounds like Lower Pines.
This works to your advantage. If all of the hotels, campgrounds and cabins are booked, you may sometimes get a spot at a free site.
Lumsden campground is near Yosemite and it’s free. Please take care of it if you spend time there. The facility offers a number of amenities such as vaulted toilets and campsite fire rings.
Lunsden campground is not recommended for trailers and RVs. Fresh water is available from the Tuolomne Scenic River, but it must be treated before drinking.
Cherry Valley is another free campground. Like Lumsden. campground, it’s located in the national forests surrounding Yosemite.
Cherry Valley has vaulted restrooms and a boat launch. It’s beside Cherry Lake, so you can enjoy boating and fishing. If you’re using these sites, ensure that you have all of your gear ready.
A good tent like the Coleman Montana with easy set up
will protect you from the elements. An inflatable kayak like the Sea Eagle 370 allows you to enjoy the beautiful lake.
There are several places where you can rest after a long day in Yosemite. The one you choose all depends on your camping preferences and your budget. While some options keep you close to nature, others provide all the modern luxuries that you could want. Booking early helps to ensure that you’ll get the type of accommodations that will make you feel relaxed.