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The Yosemite Guide contains information about camping, trip planning, activities, scheduled events, and hours of operations for different facilities and services.


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1. How do I assure myself a campsite in Yosemite NP?

2. I have one day to explore Yosemite, what should I do?

3. What does it cost to get into the park?

4. Is the park open year round?

5. What is the best way to store food at my campsite?

6. Can I bring my dog with me?

7. Will my cell phone work in Yosemite?

8. How can I find out if a campground has any cancellations for tomorrow?

9. How far is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias from Yosemite Valley?

10. Do I need to Bring chains for my tires?

11. I need to log onto the internet, where can I do that?

12. I'm planning on hiking to the top of Half Dome, do I need a permit?

13. I'm planning on hiking to the top of half dome, when do the cables go up?

14. Is the Tioga Road open?

15. When s the best time to see Horsetail Falls glow like fire?




1. How do I assure myself a campsite in Yosemite NP?

Have you heard of those far fetched stories about all of the campsites at Yosemite all selling out in seconds, and that only a handful of single night openings being available after a few minutes? No way possible you say? Well, I'm here to let you know that all those stories are dead on. They do sell out that fast and for you to get your site, this little tidbit of info below might help you be on your way to grabbing that site that you are looking forward to in 5 months.

Campgrounds that accept reservations

There are a few things that you can do to help your chances of getting a campsite.

  • First, don't call the reservation system, it just takes to long and time is something you desperately need when booking a site. Do your booking online at or Make sure at least a day ahead of the first day you can make reservations, that you create an account with one of those websites and verify that account is active by logging in with the information they will e-mail you to activate it. Write down your user name and password. You might need to re-enter them if you get your site. It makes no sense not having that important info right next to you if you need it to reserve your site.
  • Be very selective in choosing your site. Are you tent camping? if so, then you probably have a better shot than most at getting a site. This is because you can rule out all of those long driveway sites that RV'ers must have to fit their rig in. so rule out long driveway sites, you won't need them and all of the sites can fit two vehicles. Do some research on and find a few sites that are in the campground you want to be in and write the site numbers down. Do this at least a day in advance.
  • If you have an RV, make sure that you can fit your rig into one of the sites that you are interested in. Research this at least a day in advance. Pay attention to the equipment length/ driveway stat to check it your rig will fit. If you get a site that your rig might not fit in, you may be turned away at the campground check-in station at Yosemite and that is a vacation "ender".
  • On the day of reservations (see the chart on the home page), go to whatever website you created your account on about 1/2 hour before the reservations come online and log in to the system to make sure everything is A.O.K. and do some last minute research. When you are ready, and do this a few minutes before the reservation system goes live, go to the campsite that you want and plug in the dates that you are going to be there. It will look like the image above.
  • Now, at exactly, and I mean exactly to the second the time that the reservations go live for your time window, press the button "Book these Dates". Don't wait a few minutes or seconds, most of the campsites will be booked already. Once you click the button, it might take a few seconds for the system to respond due to the amount of people scrambling to get a site just like you. If the system comes back and lets you know that the dates are available, don't waste any time, book it. Remember to keep your user name and password nearby as you might have to re-enter it.
  • If the system comes back and says that these dates are no longer available, do a quick search for anything available at the campground you are looking to go to at the times that you are going and book anything that comes up. You may not get your perfect site, but you will probably have a site.
  • If that does not work, try looking at other campgrounds nearby, Upper, Lower or North pines in the valley. and look for anything available.
  • As a last resort, keep in mind that there are several campsites that are first come first served. We will move on the that next.


Campgrounds that do not accept reservations

  • Many of the campgrounds in Yosemite are on a first come first served basis. Those campgrounds are Camp 4, Bridalveil Creek, Tamarack Flat, Yosemite Creek, White Wolf, Porcupine Flat and half of Tuolumne Meadows. The basic way to get a site there is get to one of those campgrounds early and grab a spot. You can stay for up to 7 days once you get a site. At each entrance to Yosemite National Park, they will have a campground occupancy chart and you will be able to get an idea of what campgrounds you will have a chance at. The last campgrounds to usually fill up are Yosemite Creek, White Wolf and Porcupine Flat.
  • For a chance at Camp 4, see the Camp 4 page for more info.


I only need one night at a campsite, how can I find any cancellations for the night I want?

  • At the far back (northeast) corner of the parking area at Half Dome Village is the camping office. They keep track of any unused or cancelled campsites in Yosemite Valley and can tell you when to be at the office to have chance to get one of the few sites remaining. Daily campground availability information is available by calling 209/372-0266 (this is a recording).

2. I have one day to explore Yosemite, what should I do?

If you want to maximize your one day to the park, start out with these easy and fluid stops to have a great afternoon.

  • First, stop by Wawona Tunnel view on your way in and grab a few pictures of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall. The view is outstanding and is a no brainer for a great picture opportunity.
  • Next, if it is Spring, stop at Bridalveil Fall and hike up to the fall, this is a short but steep (24 degrees) hike and make sure you have something to keep you dry.
  • After Bridalveil Fall, make your way into Yosemite valley and park at the main parking area.
  • Once you get to the parking area, head over to Yosemite Village and book the 2 hour Valley Floor bus tour. The tour will be Ranger guided so you get a tour and great info to boot. Some of the sights you will see are Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Tunnel View, Half Dome and more. Don't worry about stopping at Tunnel View in the first step above if you plan on doing this tour, You will get to see this as part of the tour. Save the return trip out of the park to stop at Tunnel View again, it is a great sunset stop.
  • Don't feel like a tour, and are you more of the self paced kind of person, just get on the free Yosemite Shuttle at stop #1 at the main visitor parking area. get off at stop #6 to walk up to Yosemite Falls, then hop back on the shuttle and get off at stop #16 at Happy Isles to make the short hike up to the Vernal Falls Footbridge or if you are good on time, walk a bit further up to the the trail and catch a view of the Mist Trail and the rainbows at the base of the falls.
  • Spend the rest of the day at Cook's Meadow and get some great pictures of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Sentinel Dome or grab a bite of pizza the the Pizza Patio at Half Dome Village.
  • Head on out after a great day in the park. Remember to stop by Tunnel View for some great sunset shadows playing on the surrounding cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome.

This should take you about 8 hours or so, which is a whole day in the winter, during the summer months, you will have an extra 4 hours of daylight to play around with and you can add some extra stops along the way. Things to add would be a trip up to Mirror Lake or go check out The Ahwahnee Hotel or even skip those and head up to Glacier point for sunset and really get a treat.

3. What does it cost to get into the park?

The park entrance fee applies to all visitors. If you arrive in your private car, van, pickup truck, or RV, the entrance fee is $20 per car. This is valid for unlimited entries to Yosemite for seven days, and includes all occupants of the car.

Otherwise, entrance fees are as follows:

$10 per person if arriving on foot, horseback, bicycle, motorcycle, or on a non-commercial bus (free for those 15 years old and younger).

Commercial tours pay the following rates (a special permit is required):

  • Commercial sedan (up to six seats): $25 (plus $10 per person)
  • Commercial van (7-15 seats): $125
  • Commercial mini bus (16-25 seats): $200
  • Commercial motor coach (more than 26 seats): $300

(Note that fees are based on capacity, not on occupancy.)

We accept cash, checks, traveler's checks, and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover).

Entrance fees will be waived on November 11-13, 2011 (Veterans Day weekend).

In 2012, entrance fees will be waived on:

  • January 14-16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
  • April 21-29 (National Park Week)
  • June 9 (Get Outdoors Day)
  • September 29 (National Public Lands Day)
  • November 10-12 (Veterans Day weekend)

4. Is the park open year round?

Yosemite National Park is open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, and no reservations are required to visit.  However, the Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station is open only during daylight hours (approximately) and some roads are closed due to snow from around November through May or June. (Check road conditions and Hetch Hetchy hours.)

5. What is the best way to store food at my campsite?

What is Food?
"Food" includes any item with a scent, regardless of packaging. This may include items that you do not consider food, such as canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, trash, ice chests (even when empty), and unwashed items used for preparing or eating meals. All these items must be stored properly.

How to Store Your Food...

In your car
You may store food inside your car (out of sight, with windows completely closed) only during daylight hours. You may not leave food in a pickup truck bed or strapped to the outside of a vehicle at any time. Do not store food in your car after dark: use a food locker. Remember to clear your car of food wrappers, crumbs in baby seats, and baby wipes. Even canned food and drinks must be removed from your car.

Food lockers are available at Half Dome Village parking lots and at nearly all trailhead parking areas.

In campgrounds, Housekeeping Camp, and Half Dome Village tent cabins
You must store all your food in food lockers. Bears may enter campsites even in your presence (see photo above), and some will even check lockers to see if they’re latched.

  • Keep your locker closed and latched at all times, just like you would a freezer.
  • Only have the food out that you are actually using; if you're not using it, put it back into the food locker.
  • Finally, treat your trash like food: keep it in your food locker or dispose of it in a bear-proof dumpster; do not leave it sitting out.

Food lockers are available at every campsite, Housekeeping unit, and Half Dome Village tent cabin.

Food may be stored out of sight in hard-sided trailers and RVs, as long as windows, doors, and vents are closed when you're not there. Food may not be stored in pop-up or tent trailers, or other soft-sided campers.

In your hotel room or cabin
You must keep all food inside your room; if you are not in the room, the windows and doors must be closed. Bears can easily break into cabins through an open door or open window.

In picnic areas and while hiking on the trail
Always keep your food within arm's reach and don't turn your back to your food; never leave food unattended. Bears may investigate picnic areas or backpacks for food even in your presence, so be alert.

While backpacking in the Wilderness
Bear resistant food containers ("bear canisters") are required for overnight hikers throughout the Wilderness (counterbalance food hangs are no longer legal). In Yosemite and the southern Sierra, bear canisters are the only effective and proven method of preventing bears from getting human food.

6. Can I bring my dog with me?

If you choose to bring your pet to Yosemite, please abide by these regulations:

  • Pets are only allowed
    • in developed areas
    • on fully paved trails and roads except trails signed as not allowing pets (pets are not allowed off the floor of Yosemite Valley, including the trail to Vernal Fall)
    • in campgrounds (except Tamarack Flat, Porcupine Flat, and walk-in campgrounds)
  • Pets are not allowed
    • on unpaved or poorly paved trails, or trails signed as not allowing pets (however, pets are allowed on the Wawona Meadow Loop)
    • on unplowed roads covered in snow
    • in Wilderness areas
    • on shuttle buses
    • in concessionaire lodging areas
    • in Tamarack Flat, Porcupine Flat, and all walk-in campgrounds
    • in any group or horse camps
  • Pets must be restrained on a leash not more than six feet long or otherwise physically restrained
  • Leashed pets may not be left unattended
  • For the courtesy of other visitors, human companions are responsible for cleaning up and depositing pet feces in trash receptacles
  • Remember that pet food is also bear food: store pet food as if it were human food.

These regulations protect both pets and wildlife from disease and each other. The National Park Service has prohibited pets on trails for many years. In particular, dogs chase wildlife, pollute water sources, and can become defensive and dangerous in unfamiliar surroundings. Pet owners have the burden to assure their pet does not damage the park values for others in those areas where pets are allowed.

DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite operates a dog kennel in Yosemite Valley from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Written proof of immunizations (rabies, distemper, parvo, and Bordetella) must be provided. Dogs must be at least 20 pounds (smaller dogs may be considered if you provide a small kennel). You can get more information about the kennel by calling 209/372-8348.

There are a few additional (very obscure and unsigned) places where pets are allowed: Four Mile fire road in Wawona, on the Carlon Road, and on the Old Big Oak Flat Road between Hodgdon Meadow and Hazel Green Creek.

7. Will my cell phone work in Yosemite?

AT&T: Voice and EDGE data service are available in parts of Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows.

Verizon Wireless:
Voice and 1x data service are available in parts of Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Crane Flat, El Portal, and Wawona. (Service in Yosemite is provided by Golden State Cellular; data roaming must be enabled on your phone to use data.)

8. How can I find out if a campground has any cancellations for tomorrow?

At the far back (northeast) corner of the parking area at Half Dome Village is the camping office. They keep track of any unused or cancelled campsites in Yosemite Valley and can tell you when to be at the office to have chance to get one of the few sites remaining.

9. How far is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias from Yosemite Valley?

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.

10. Do I need to Bring chains for my tires?

Tire chains may be required in fall, winter, and spring due to snowy or icy conditions.

11. I need to log onto the internet, where can I do that?

Yosemite Lodge
Wireless internet access is available to all park visitors at Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite Valley for $5.95 for up to seven logins or seven days (whichever comes first). Access is free for Yosemite Lodge overnight guests.

Access areas include the front desk/lobby, the Mountain Room Lounge, the Cliff Room (the Cliff Room has both wired and wireless access), the Falls Room, and the courtyard.

Half Dome Village
Wireless internet access is available at the Half Dome Village Lounge (behind the registration desk) to Half Dome Village guests.

Yosemite Village
Internet kiosks are available at Degnan's Cafe for $1 per three minutes. (Kiosks are limited to child friendly internet access.)

Limited Internet access is also available at the small Mariposa County library branch in Yosemite Valley.

The Ahwahnee
Wireless Internet is available only to guests of The Ahwahnee.

Wawona Hotel
Wireless Internet is available only to guests of the Wawona Hotel. 

12. I'm planning on hiking to the top of Half Dome, do I need a permit?

A permit is required to hike to the top of Half Dome every day when the cables are up.

13. I'm planning on hiking to the top of half dome, when do the cables go up?

The cables are typically up from the weekend before Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

14. Will the Tioga Road be open.

The Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park) is open approximately late May through October, though these dates vary depending on conditions. You can see a list of opening and closing dates since 1980.

15. When s the best time to see Horsetail Falls glow like fire?

Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. It's a small waterfall that many people don't notice, but it has gained popularity as more and more people have noticed it can glow orange during sunset in mid to late February.

The most popular place to see Horsetail Fall seemingly afire is El Capitan picnic area, west of Yosemite Lodge and east of El Capitan (see map below). The "firefall" effect generally happens during the second half of February. A clear sky is necessary for the waterfall to glow orange.




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