Visiting Yosemite National Park in your RV

Yosemite National Park is truly one of the most magnificent places in America. From glacially-carved cliffsides to sparkling waterfalls, vast meadows, glistening lakes, and towering, vertical rock faces, Yosemite is truly a sight to behold. For centuries, people from all over have flocked to this area to explore this national treasure. Today, Yosemite receives nearly four million guests per year, and many of these visitors come via RV. With nine campgrounds to choose from and a variety of other amenities, Yosemite is a great place for a vacation any time of year. However, there is some careful planning that must go into taking an RV camping trip to Yosemite. Follow along for the best tips and ideas for planning your next trip to Yosemite National Park.

Tunnel View in Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places in the park.

1. Book Yosemite Valley campgrounds way ahead/check for cancellations

Many Yosemite National Park campsites are available by reservation, and those who plan to visit the park should take advantage of the reservable campsites, especially if they plan to camp in the valley. The three campgrounds in Yosemite Valley see the most traffic out of all the park campgrounds, and many of them are booked up to six months in advance. If you want to camp in the valley, try to book your campsites as soon as your travel dates are set. If the campgrounds are already fully booked, keep an eye on the site, as there may be a cancellation to snag.

Yosemite Valley campgrounds book far in advance.

2. Try FCFS campgrounds if you didn’t get early reservations

If you don’t have reservations to camp in the valley, there are still six other campgrounds to choose from! Of these campgrounds, five are first come, first-served, so planning for exact dates is not required. If you plan to stay in a first come, first-served campground, be sure to arrive early in the day to snag a campsite before they fill up.

Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places in America.

3. Pack plenty of groceries and get gas before you arrive

Although there are a few towns in proximity to Yosemite, most are still over an hour from Yosemite Valley. Plan to stock up on groceries and fill your gas tank before you enter the park to avoid driving far distances for necessary supplies. This will allow you to make the most of your time spent in the park.

Bridalveil Fall flows the quickest in the springtime.

4. Visit in the spring, fall, or winter for fewer crowds

Yosemite’s busiest seasons are spring and summer, when the weather is nice and warm. However, fall and winter offer opportunities to see the park in its less popular season. The golden leaves of the trees in autumn and the fresh falling snow of the winter make this park truly spectacular, even in its off seasons. If you want to enjoy the park with fewer roads, plan to visit in the off season. Be sure to take note of winter closures if you are visiting in the winter.

Visiting Yosemite in the off season can offer more solitude.

5. Get an early start

Even if you visit the park in the busier seasons, getting an early start to your day will help you to avoid heavy crowds. Sunrise is a great time for hiking, as it offers dramatic lighting and increases your chances of seeing wildlife. Even in the quiet seasons, there is nothing like starting your day with a beautiful sunrise adventure.

Yosemite can be quite crowded in the summer.

6. Plan your hikes and drives ahead of time

In Yosemite, there is so much to do and see. Planning out your days in Yosemite will help you to make the most of your time there. Park visitors centers can offer suggestions for hikes and daily activities, and there are also many online resources listing all the incredible activities available for park visitors. Plan out your itinerary ahead of time to allow yourself to enjoy more on your Yosemite vacation.

Be sure to stop at a visitors center for help planning your day.

7. Try less popular activities

If you want to avoid park crowds and try new activities, there are many other things to do in Yosemite besides hiking. Biking, birdwatching, photography, fishing, scenic driving, boating, swimming, and picnicking are all popular park activities that can be enjoyed in Yosemite. Consult the Yosemite National Park website for a full list of things to do and where to do them.

Biking can be a great mode of transportation in Yosemite Valley.

8. Relax and enjoy Yosemite

National parks offer an ideal place to relax and recharge in the beauty of nature. While there are many activities that visitors can enjoy, there are also many opportunities for relaxation in nature, surrounded by beauty. Be sure to take opportunities to both explore and relax whenever you visit this beautiful park.

Yosemite is a truly magical place that keeps visitors returning year after year to see its beauty and experience its magnificence. It is a place that cannot be truly described with words and must be experienced for one’s own self. For a vacation you are sure to never forget and memories that will last a lifetime, plan an RV vacation to Yosemite National Park.

Glacier Point is one of the most popular views in the park.

Have you been to Yosemite? How was your experience? Where did you camp? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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  1. Dennis Wymore
    14th April, 2020

    We, my wife and 2 young kids, tent camped many years ago. To secure a spot we were on the phone 6 months out and were able to secure a site of choice. Upon arrival to the park we, after getting advice from the rangers, spent the week on numerous hiking adventures with the longest to the base of Half Dome. I chose to go no further due to a (now fixed) knee issue. It is a magnificent park that we recently returned to, this time during the Mariposa Fire, however this time we didn’t camp, but chose a somewhat nearby resort. Although the accommodations were fine, memories of the camping experience and having park experiences near the campsite (saving as much as 1 1/2 hours driving) inspired us to make the jump into purchasing a small RV. We now plan to return and experience the park in Spring, Fall and possibly Winter.

    1. Sam Leash
      19th May, 2020

      There really is nothing like camping right in the national park! Best of luck on your future RV purchase and Yosemite trips. 🙂