Free camping near Yosemite?


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 18 of total 18 in this topic

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?

A pile of dirt.
Sep 3, 2014 - 06:11pm PT
If you're out of the park the bears are fine. One only need worry about the domesticated yosemite bear.
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
Sep 3, 2014 - 06:11pm PT
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 .

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Sep 3, 2014 - 07:58pm PT
I infer you are asking about Yosemite Valley, from the ref to Camp 4, but "yosemite" is an awfully big place, so there are several answers to your question depending on what you want to be near.

Topic Author's Reply - Sep 3, 2014 - 08:09pm PT
Yes, i am planning on climbing in Yosemite valley and the idea would be to camp somewhere within a half-hour drive of those crags

Sep 3, 2014 - 08:13pm PT
The intelligent class studies the layout of the land and finds what it needs ......

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Sep 3, 2014 - 09:09pm PT
30 minutes "from the crags" is unrealistic for free, legal camping, short of Camp 4 or other valley campgrounds. For the BLM camping, check out:

Other information above is correct.

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Sep 3, 2014 - 09:21pm PT
The problem with camping on the open forest lands is you have to (should) pack up all your stuff, every day.

With a campground in the park you can leave your tent and sleeping bag etc. and other less valuable stuff all set up. Out in the forest lands you'd just about be asking for someone to take it.


Sep 3, 2014 - 10:09pm PT
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.

Another recent thread here:

Trad climber
Bay Area
Sep 4, 2014 - 10:43am PT
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"

Boulder climber
Sep 4, 2014 - 10:57am PT
What the Duck said, go there and see what the Valley has to offer you. . .

East Bay, CA
Sep 4, 2014 - 11:10am PT
this is the cluster%uck that keeps on givin'.

when is the park going to create more legitimate campsites?

A pile of dirt.
Sep 4, 2014 - 01:26pm PT
Oh crap, I'm gonna get raped by the locals.

That was funny - LMFAO!

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.


Trad climber
Northern California
Sep 4, 2014 - 01:58pm PT
Just look on the yosemite online reservations for a cancellation. I have always been able to piece together sites. If the cost is too much, post up here for someone to split the site with you.

Feb 5, 2015 - 02:41am PT
Slept last Friday night in Harden Flat. Standard pull-out, #3. Apologies if you heard me driving past you, #1 & #2.

Think positive. More moonlight is the upside of toasted trees.

Slept the next couple of nights at that stupid Little Yosemite Campsite with the two-story latrine.

Idiots burn campfires in the duff, walk away with logs smoldering.

4 bars on the cellphone? Call your mom. Sleep good, sleep free.

photo not found
Missing photo ID#318560

Feb 5, 2015 - 03:28am PT
i once "just pitched my tent" right outside the valley next to a random road and was shot at with a gun. no joke.

stupid american shooting guns at guys 200m away from their house trying to catch some sleep.

Mountain climber
Feb 5, 2015 - 08:42am PT
^ sounds scary, ben.
Of all places, I had the same thing happen in Finland, where its very legal to put a tent up anywhere as long as it is a certain distance from private houses. 3am, midnight sun, footsteps woke us up and someone fired a shot just outside our tent. We kept completely silent and the person walked away. Have no idea what that was about, and am guessing the person was drunk.

fist clamp
Feb 5, 2015 - 08:43am PT
It is free to sleep in the N.F. all you have to do is find a level spot.
Messages 1 - 18 of total 18 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Trip Report and Articles
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews