Camping in Yosemite, CA

Yosemite virgins no more. We were bursting with delight over the breathtaking scenery and good fortune that had bestowed upon us. Bears fueled the anticipation of wilderness life. Our bikes carried us around the “preservation” well into the starry evenings. Even Cheddar Yeti was breathless, literally.

But, I believe that when you’re in a pickle, the best things are just about to happen.

The drive into the park was speckled with 6% Grade yellow triangle signs, which we ignored until the waft of burnt rubber ransacked the brisk mountain air that previously flowed gayly through our nostrils. Without a break pad ounce to spare, we stopped for a cool down. A bit scared, we made it to Lower Pines Campground, before night fall. Now, the burning was a welcomed fragrance.

Clear skies and warm 72 degree days, just perfect for bike rides and relaxing in our camp chairs with a beer and trail mix. Ahh, the wilderness. Keeping one eye open for bears and the other on our perfectly burning camp fire coals.

Homemade Chili over the camp fire took hours, but made it that much better to taste. Learning to cook from scratch and with the basics is a new challenge for me. I’ll document our new way of cooking in the “American Cheddar” section.

By day three, we had to move camp spaces. To our dismay, our behemoth of a dirty white Yeti wouldn’t fit into the tiny tree lined space that we booked. All campgrounds were full and the waiting list was 20 deep. Stranded with no place to stay. But, I believe that when you’re in a pickle, the best things are just about to happen.

Well, they did. Some friends from San Diego rented an RV to camp in Yosemite a day prior. Drew and Leslie Burke invited us to stay with them at their camp spot in beautiful Wawona. Wawona is just outside the Yosemite Valley about 22 miles (south on hwy 41) and still inside the National park boundaries. It sits on a river with oodles of space and no timed fire restrictions.

To top off our golden fortune cookie, Drew serenaded the smoke from the campfire with his guitar and sweet tunes melody. Drinks flowed, BBQ charred. Yo’Semite!!

“Hey, did you see that bear? There were two bikers right up on it, I don’t think they saw it.” Yeah, that was us.

We left Yosemite on Thursday, and on our way out the Yeti choked, sputtered, and just flat out refused to leave. I must say, if the waiting list wasn’t so long… we’d have taken the hint. Instead, we took an “E Ticket” tow truck ride down the Sierra’s to Sam’s Transmission in Oakhurst, CA.

BEARS: “Hey, did you see that bear? There were two bikers right up on it, I don’t think they saw it.” Yeah, that was us.

HIKES: Mirror Lake was long but easy. The morning is the best photo time. Lowers Falls is easy too (Green Circle) but is sardine packed with people. Upper Falls and Vernal Falls we hear are serious climbs (black diamond), so we skipped it. Miraposa, home to a grove of giant sequoias, is long when the road is closed, but nice and paved so it’s baby carriage friendly.

BIKES: Bring them! They have rentals but $25 bucks a day will drain your firewood and beer funds.

Tunnel View and Inspiration Point are beautiful and up off the 41 toward Wawona. You’d need to drive. If we had not ran into the Burkes, we would have missed these sights. You can walk or bike to El Capitan to watch the climbers. Great spot to hang for a bit. Swinging bridge looked nice too, next time fo’sho.

Curry Village and Yosemite Village have everything you’ll need (except Gas!). Fully stocked, expensive, grocery stores, souvenirs, firewood, post office, book store, museum, photography gallery and film store. Bars, restaurants, coffee shops and pizza joints… you’d hardly know you we’re in a “preservation”. Even some pretty nice hotels for non-campers, and luxury tents for in betweenies.

We took the 140, which is pretty, but steep at times, an advanced drive for new RVers like us. (read more details in the Road Ratings section)

Camp reservations visit
We stayed in Upper Pines (large/side by side spaces) and Lower Pines (smaller and right across the street), North Pines (by the water, really nice and small)
Book early and don’t lie about your length…cause you might not get away with it. We said we were 24 feet when we were actually 26.5 and couldn’t pull into our space. Length wasn’t the problem, it was turn clearance. Busted!
If you’ve seen the park or have a car to get up to the village, Wawona Campground is a great camp spot outside the valley.

If you’d like, check out our scenic Yosemite photos on FLICKR.


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