Yosemite National Park has 13 popular campgrounds, of which up to seven are on a reservation system. From April through September, reservations are essential and even the first-come, first-served campgrounds often fill by noon from May through September.
|Upper Pines||Reservations Required|
|Lower Pines||Reservations Required|
|North Pines||Reservations Required|
|Hodgdon Meadow||Reservations Required|
|Crane Flat||Reservations Required|
|Tuolumne Meadows||Reservations Required|
Reservations are required March 15 through November for Yosemite Valley's car campgrounds and summer through fall for Hodgdon Meadow, Wawona, and half of Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows. Campground reservations are available in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance, on the 15th of each month at 7 am Pacific time. Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available (often within minutes after 7 am)!
Yosemite National Park encompasses a spectacular tract of mountain-and-valley scenery in the Sierra Nevada. The park harbors a grand collection of waterfalls, meadows, and forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world's largest living things. Most famous is the awe-inspiring Half Dome, a massive granite rock face that juts dramatically out of the glacially-carved valley.
There's far more to Yosemite than the Half Dome, as visitors who venture off the paved roads will quickly discover. Hundreds of miles of trails can be explored on foot, horseback, or, in winter, cross country skis. A grove of giant sequoias can be found near the less-visited South Entrance; the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in the equally under visited north portion of the park is another little-known attraction. Off-season visitors can experience the wonder of snow-dappled cliffs or the brisk clear skies of spring.
Yosemite National Park covers nearly 1,200 square miles of mountainous terrain in the Sierra Nevada of California. You can visit Yosemite all year, though some areas of the park are inaccessible by car from approximately November through May due to snow. You can drive your car into and around Yosemite, though we encourage you to use shuttle buses in some areas.
Yosemite National Park is 200 miles east of San Francisco; three state roads (CA 120, CA 140 and CA 41) approach from the west and converge on the lower end of the valley. CA 120 continues east across the Sierras via the Tioga Pass, a route that is often blocked by snow until July. No roads cross the mountains south of here for 140 miles. At the western end of the valley where the mountains at either side come close together, the roads become narrow, cut precariously into the cliff sides, and pass through several tunnels - these open to reveal an astonishing vista of vertical cliffs and green woodland, fading into the hazy distance; this is Yosemite Valley, central attraction of the park.
San Francisco/Bay area
Distance: 195 mi / 314 km
Take I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park.
Distance: 176 mi / 283 km
Time: 4 hours
Take Highway 99 south to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park.
Reno & Lake Tahoe
Approximately June through October, conditions permitting
Distance: 218 mi / 351 km (Reno)
Time: 5 hours
Take US 395 south to Lee Vining; take Highway 120 west into Yosemite National Park (open late May/June through October, depending on conditions).
Distance: 315 mi / 507 km (Reno)
Time: 8 hours
Take I-80 or I-50 west to Sacramento; take Highway 99 south to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park.
Los Angeles area
Distance: 313 mi / 504 km
Time: 6 hours
Take I-5 north (or I-405 north to I-5) to Highway 99 north to Highway 41 north (Fresno) into Yosemite National Park.
San Diego area
Distance: 441 mi / 710 km
Time: 8 hours
Take I-5 north to Highway 99 to Highway 41 north (Fresno) into Yosemite National Park.
June through October, conditions permitting
Distance: 350 mi / 560 km
Time: 6-7 hours
Take I-15 west to Barstow; Highway 58 west to the junction with US 395; go north on US 395 to near Lee Vining; take Highway 120 west into Yosemite National Park (open late May/early June through October, depending on conditions).
November through May
Distance: 495 mi / 797 km
Time: 8-10 hours
Take I-15 west to Barstow; Highway 58 west to Bakersfield; take Highway 99 north to Fresno. In Fresno, take Highway 41 north into Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite Valley is world famous for its impressive waterfalls, meadows, cliffs, and unusual rock formations. Yosemite Valley is accessible by car all year.
The Mariposa Grove is located 36 miles (one hour) south of Yosemite Valley, near the park's South Entrance. The Mariposa Grove is the largest stand of giant sequoias (also known as Sierra redwoods or big trees) in Yosemite. The road to the Mariposa Grove is not plowed in winter and is often closed to cars (but not to hikers or skiers) from sometime in November through April.
Wawona is the home to the historic Wawona Hotel, dating from the late nineteenth century. The Pioneer Yosemite History Center, a collection of historic buildings, is located just over the covered bridge from the hotel. Wawona is accessible by car year-round.
Glacier Point, an overlook with a commanding view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra is located 30 miles (one hour) from Yosemite Valley. The road ends at Glacier Point and it is a short walk to the viewpoint. The road is closed from sometime in November through early May or late June. From mid-December through early April the road is plowed only as far as the Badger Pass ski area and Glacier Point can be reached via skis or snowshoes only. Both downhill and cross-country skiing are available at Badger Pass from mid-December through early April.
Crane Flat is a pleasant forest and meadow area located 16 miles (30 minutes) from Yosemite Valley. Nearby are the Tuolumne and Merced Groves of Giant Sequoias, which are only accessible by foot. Crane Flat is accessible by car all year. A snow play area is open during winter.
The Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park), is generally open to vehicles from late May or early June through sometime in November. It offers a 39-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows through forests and past meadows, lakes, and granite domes. Many turnouts offer broad and beautiful vistas.
Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open sub-alpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes. From sometime in November through late May or early June, this area is only accessible by cross-country skis or snowshoes.
Hetch Hetchy, a lesser known twin to Yosemite Valley, is home to spectacular scenery and is the starting point for many less-used wilderness trails. The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is the source of drinking water for much of the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the road to Hetch Hetchy is open year-round during daylight hours (approximately), it may close periodically due to snow in winter and spring.