This Popular National Park is a Must-See. Here’s How.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country. Once you visit, it’s easy to see why. The scenery in this park is absolutely phenomenal, and the wildlife is incredible.
Of course, the best way to experience this park is by camping in the middle of the action, and in our opinion, the best way to camp is in an RV. That said, there are some things you should know before visiting Yosemite National Park.
5 Things You Should Know About Yosemite RV Camping
In this article, we will cover all of the things you must know about Yosemite RV camping. Going in with this knowledge will save you lots of hassle, and it might even save your trip.
1. Reservations go quickly
If you’ve ever tried to snag a camping reservation at Yosemite, you know just how tricky it can be. These campsites are in high demand and go incredibly quickly. If you aren’t prepared with the right information as soon as the reservation window opens, you aren’t likely to get what you want.
So, when do reservations open to the public? Well, unlike the majority of other national parks, Yosemite does not roll out their reservations a full six months in advance. Instead, reservations are available in one-month blocks, released on the 15th of the month, five months in advance.
The minute your reservation window opens, you’ll want to have your computer open to the recreation.gov website with the first several steps of the reservation process finished. This will put you one step ahead of many others.
You’ll also want to have all of the necessary information, including the campground you wish to stay in (as well as a second and third pick), the size of your rig, the number of people in your party, and your credit card info. Be quick but accurate when filling out this information. Read campground reviews ahead of time so you have a better idea of what to expect.
If you don’t manage to snag a site, you might be able to score one through Campnab. This service does cost a bit, but it scans for reservation openings on a regular basis, increasing your chances of getting the campsite you want.
The other option is to try for a first-come, first-served site. Just know that these fill up every day, so you will need to arrive early and be prepared to be turned away.
2. Size restrictions
Just like most other national parks, Yosemite has size restrictions for RVs. As a whole, the park doesn’t allow motorhomes over 40 feet or trailers over 35 feet. That said, the vast majority of campgrounds limit motorhomes to 35 feet, and only a handful of campgrounds accept 35-foot trailers. This means that if you have a bigger rig, you will be extremely limited when it comes to campground options within this park.
If your RV exceeds the length limits, you will need to look outside of the park for camping options. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to Yosemite RV camping. RV LIFE’s RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard can help you find a campground or boondocking location that works well for you and isn’t too far from the action.
3. No hookups
Another thing to be aware of when planning a Yosemite RV camping trip is that none of the Yosemite campgrounds have RV hookups of any kind.
Fortunately, there are places nearby to fill your freshwater tank. Dump stations are available in the Yosemite Valley year-round and at Wawona and Tuolumne Meadows during the summer months.
As far as electricity goes, solar panels are always an option, and generators are allowed from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., noon to 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. That said, we recommend limiting your generator usage to a minimum to reduce noise pollution and to keep the peace and quiet for everyone.
4. Be aware of bears
It’s no secret that bears are all over Yosemite National Park. In fact, the bears are one of the awesome things about this park! That said, bears can also be dangerous, especially if you aren’t a bear-aware camper.
To avoid problems with bears, be sure to remove all food (and things that may smell like food) from your vehicle and leave them at home. It’s also a good idea to vacuum the car to remove food particles and clean kid’s car seats, which tend to smell like food.
If you’re in a hard-sided camper, keep all food inside and close the windows, doors, and vents to prevent the smell of food from wafting outside. You might also consider storing especially strong-smelling items in plastic containers. Visitors in soft-sided campers should store all food in the campground’s designated Bear Boxes.
5. Seasonal closures
Lastly, we’d like to point out that some of Yosemite’s campgrounds are closed during the winter months. This is because the large amounts of snowfall in this park can make many of the roads completely impassable.
If you plan to visit during the cold season, you will need to plan on staying in Upper Pines, Hodgdon Meadow, or Wawona.
It’s also important to note that a winter Yosemite RV camping trip will likely mean driving on snow and using tire chains. If this makes you uncomfortable, opt for a summer trip instead. You’ll have just as much fun, and you won’t have to deal with winter weather conditions, which can be problematic.
With these things in mind, you should be able to have an amazing Yosemite RV camping trip! Figure out when you’d like to visit, find out when your reservation window will open, and get ready to book a campsite. Your adventure awaits!
Learn more about Yosemite RV camping
For all of your camping and trip planning needs, look no further than RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard. RV LIFE Campgrounds is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts just like you. With its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV LIFE Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.
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- Experience Driving Into Yosemite Through A Snowstorm [VIDEO]
- Your Complete Guide To Camping In California’s 9 National Parks
- Visiting Yosemite in a Motorhome
Chelsea Gonzales is a full-time RVer, freelance writer, and roadschooling mama who loves sharing her expertise about RVing with kids, roadschooling, and full-time RVing. The entrepreneurial and free-spirited author is also artistic director of the Aistear Mobile Irish Dance Academy, and currently travels with her family in a 27-foot travel trailer. Chelsea’s informational articles about full-time RVing, raising children on the road, camping, and destination features appear on her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander. throughout the RV LIFE network, and in RV industry media outlets such as Outdoorsy, Coach-Net, and RV Share.
Thanks for your great article. One thing that you should really stress is that it is likely that the people who DO get these coveted campsites MUST have some type of dialing software as there is no way that a mere mortal can accomplish the feat. Repeat dial manually; get poised and dial as the clock turns to the hour that the reservations become available; start calling BEFORE the clock turns- none of these will work to get you a reservation.
Steve Liddle says
I have been wanting to camp in Yosemite for the longest time, and recently picked up a truck bed camper (Cirrus 820).
When you say “when your reservation window opens”, what does that mean?
What time should I have all my information ready and log in on 2/15? 12am PST?
It’s going to be some time before we hit the road, but this has been a valuable eye-opener concerning registrations and Yosemite in particular. Thanks.
Sharan Harrison says
You forgot to mention that the National Park Service announced a couple of weeks ago that the Tuolomne Meadows campground is closed for 2022, 2023 and possibly 2024 because of a “major rehabilitation project”.