Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 3, 2014 - 05:59pm PT
I've stayed in hostels for less per night than the FS campgrounds outside Yosemite cost and I've heard getting a spot on camp 4 can be difficult. My research keeps turning up these oblique references to random camping on BLM land, is this as simple as it sounds? are there areas close to, preferably just outside, the park, where you can just pull off the road and pitch a tent? I'm a little skeptical and I'd really rather not get in a fight with a ranger and/or black bear. Any info would be appreciated?
Highway 120 on the Tioga entrance to the park has quite a few areas where you could throw a bag or perhaps a tent out , especially around Lee Vining. On the western side , hwy. 120 and all the areas in the national forest might still be under the 'no camping' restrictions from the last big fire . Those spots are on the 120, west of the park entrance, are still at least 30 minutes from valley crags .
People forget or simply don't know that unless otherwise posted and as long as you obey any current restrictions, it is legal to camp anywhere on National Forest land.
Right now most of Stanislaus NF along 120 is closed until November 18. Gotta get all those logs out.
There are some areas of Stanislaus that are still open, but they are closer to Groveland and make your total commute about 40-50 min.
Once you leave Tuolumne going east you are Inyo National Forest. Camping is restricted along the Lee Vining Canyon drainage (up the hill from LV), but after that you are good to go. There are many established bivies along the river and behind the Mobil Mart. Be respectful! No fires, no loud music, poop elsewhere!
Two weeks ago a funny thing happened to me on the way to the zoo. I got a spot that's replaced Harden Flat while it's closed. I'm not spreading it around, brother, keeping it strictly to email. Probably too far away for the OP's purposes, anyway.
So I pull in like 1 or 2AM, about 5-10 minutes down a dirt road. Get out of my old truck, take a piss, pop the shell.
All of a sudden, a big truck pulls up. Lights blazing. Stops right behind me. Oh crap, I'm gonna get raped by the locals.
I walk up, say hey, and see it's the Sheriff! Whew!
"Whatchadoing?" he asks.
"Dispersed camping" says I. "On my way up to Yosemite. That side of the road is closed due to the Rim Fire. This side of the road is legal."
"Be safe," he says in so many words and drives off on his way. Kinda freaked me out, though. I never see nobody down that road.
idea would be to camp somewhere within a half-hour drive of those crags
You have to ask yourself "why?"
Note that 1/2 hour by car doesn't get you from any park entrance to 90% of the Valley climbing areas.
A 1/2 hour walk and/or free shuttle bus ride from Camp 4 gets you to most of them.
A lot of local (Bay area etc) people crash outside the park on their way after work on Friday night partly to save $ and partly because they'd rather not drive the extra 45 mins late at night to not get a campsite anyway. Besides, it's "traditional"
There are places to bivy but they are few and far between - especially now since so many of the standard 120 bivys are hosed from the fire. Because these things are rare peeps aren't gonna post em up here or every idiot from this forum would be using them. Listen to the Duck and go figure it out.