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“Perfect camping getaway, Yosemite without the crowds” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tuolumne Meadows Campground

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Tuolumne Meadows Campground
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Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, CA   |  
Hotel amenities
Los Angeles, California
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
“Perfect camping getaway, Yosemite without the crowds”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2012

Camped for 3 nights in early July, got a great spot in the tent only area in Loop A near the river. Was able to get the spot without reservations - key is getting there in the morning and arriving mid-week. We've previously been advised that trying to get a walk in spot on Thursday - Sunday is difficult, we arrived on Wednesday and left on Saturday.

Campground is perfect. Plenty of space, bathrooms well kept, and Loop A is right against the river so its easy access to the river to begin hikes or cool off. Only down side is that Tuolumne Meadows lodge no longer offers showers, so that did put a slight damper on our 7 day camping trip. However, the number of hiking options, the lack of crowds in Tuolumne Meadows as compared to the Valley which now looks like Disneyland during the summer, and the friendliness and tranquility that can always be found in a tent only camping area when the sound of generators from RVs can't be heard more than compensated for the minor convenience. The only other unexpected issue was the number of mosquitos. Having traveled and camped quite a bit, this was the largest number of mosquitos we ever experienced - but we were told that it was seasonal and just happened to pick the wrong time of the season.

Of course, the whole point of camping in Tuolumne Meadows is the capacity to have easy access to the amazing natural attributes to this part of the Valley. No, its not the Valley, with its shear cliffs and waterfalls everywhere you turn - but it has a different type of beauty about it. Numerous lakes all around within 3 - 5 miles of hiking, hiking options with every possible range of difficulty so that no matter your skill level beauty is just around the corner. The Tuolumne Meadows grill and store, completely built out for backpackers and people that like to get away but still having everything that is necessary and providing great breakfast (buckwheat pancakes were amazing!) and burgers (salmon burgers with sweet potato fries!) when campfire or propane stove food just won't cut it. The shuttle service that gives easy access to most of the major trailheads and other nice view points. All of it was great. And, traveling as a family with kids ages 10 to 6, all of this couldn't be beat. We will definitely be back and just might make it an annual camping trip.

Room Tip: Reservations are advised to make sure you get the spot you want. If traveling with out reservations...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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34 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
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English first
San Francisco
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2012

Recently stayed at Tuolumne Campground over a busy in-season weekend. The sites were pretty cramped and the whole place felt a bit tired / overused, but this place gets extremely high traffic in the summer and the fact that its clean and well run is a miracle despite having to deal with 300 sites. The road is a bit bumpy, but nothing too bad (I do have some extra clearance in my station wagon). I definitely agree with other reviews that it is probably a good idea to get to the campground in the daylight, as it is in the trees and gets really dark. My wife was big fan of their prominent recycling efforts, which is typical of campgrounds in national parks. Those looking for a calmer experience should consider the Inyo Forest Service campgrounds outside the park, such as on the June Lake loop, which are easier to reserve closer to the date and may have better amenities. Then again, there is something to said for waking up and being able to walk around Tuolumne Meadows at dawn, which is truly heavenly.

Room Tip: Bring ear plugs as you will be close to your neighbor, and it is also hard to sleep at high altitude...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Martinez, California
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2011

Great location for High Sierra hiking and beauty, but you must be outside of the campground to see the mountains and meadow because the trees hide the landscape. Road is poorly maintained, narrow for RVs and cars to navigate in passing. Lots of pot holes and water. Sites vary and many are close, noisy, and smokey. Sites are overrun with far more people than legally permitted, making campground wall-to-wall humanity. In a more remote campsite, two bears, two years old (large) appeared while opening our bear locker. One stood on top of the table by the locker while the other waited on my other side. I was able to scare off one bear, but the other followed me to my camper and left only after a ladder was thrust in its direction.

Room Tip: You can't second guess who your neighbors will be from day to day, so just take a chance on any...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clovis, California
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2011

We had reservations and was looking forward to this trip. At check-in we were given a camp site in the middle of 5 other families only a few feet away. Since it was just the two of us, we asked if we could get another site that might be less congested. We were given another site a little further down the road which was pretty quiet but it was the smallest camp site we've ever experienced. We hardly had room for our tent, we had to barely squeeze our truck into a rocky hill, and we had the hot sun on us all day until the sun went down. The nearest water spigot and restroom was way down the hill. The condition of the roads were terrible - potholes and very narrow. We were disappointed that we had reservations and got the worst site in the campground!

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mt. Cook Village, New Zealand
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2010

Tuolumne Meadows Campground is a large basic campground high (8,600 feet) in Yosemite National Park. It's about 25 miles west of Lee Vining, CA on California 120. One third of the 300 sites are reservable with the rest first come first served. The cost is $20 (or $10 with a Golden Age Passport). No hookups. Probably half the campers are in tents. The campground roads are bumpy, narrow and slow. There are restrooms with flush toilets and electricity. The is a dump station nearby. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and a food storage box. Bears can be frequent visitors. There is a small but adequate grocery store plus a post office and basic (primitive) restaurant. There is a gas station, mountaineering/sport shop and there's a vistors' center nearby. A tent lodge with an excellent (expensive) restaurant is two miles east. Mobile phone service (at least on Verizon) is excellent.

It's cold at night and pleasant to warm in the day. It can get down to near freezing some nights. The last I knew there were no showers. One can swim in the Tuolumne River in three or four spots but the water is COLD and you only stay in for a few minutes. The water is warmest between 5 and 6 p.m. Three favorite swim spots: Between Puppy and Kitty Domes about 15 minutes from camp. The downstream side of the bridge at Parsons Lodge. "The Slot" at the east edge of the campground where you can lay down in the narrow and only slot in the river at that point and ride it twenty feet into a small pool four feet deep. It looks like you are going to hit a huge bolder but the water takes you around it in to the small, shallow pool.

We love this campground and have been annual visitors since 1960: First in tents and now in a 23 foot trailer. For us it's a 450 mile drive each way. There are day hikes in all directions plus rocks to climb and rivers to follow. The park rangers lead hikes every day plus a campfire each night. The adventurous can climb Mt. Dana (13,061ft). It's only three miles from the road and 3,000 foot elevation gain: It took me at age 67 three hours up and two hours down. It's a trail anyone can follow. Don't go on stormy days; lightning hazard.

There are two excellent hikes just outside the park. The hike to Bennettvile (old silver mining town) is short, varied and beautiful. Going another ten minutes further to Shell Lake is a big plus. The other hike is the Twenty Lakes Basin at the far end of Saddlebag Lake. We took the water taxi across Saddlebag and hiked the loop. Maybe five miles long. Both hikes are in the national forest and dogs are permitted on the trails on a leash. Dogs in Tuolumne Meadows are restricted to the campground.

You are welcome to go to my Flickr site and see my Tuolumne and Mt. Dana photos and videos: www.flickr.com/photos/rudyperry/sets/

Advice: Bring some bug repellent. Bring warm clothes for chilly nights. Do attend the campfires each night. Hike the river from Tuolumne Lodge back to the campground. (There is a large, beautiful waterfall at Tuolumne Lodge!) Climb Lembert Dome (from the backside). Take the free shuttle bus to Olmstead Point and then hike around Tenaya Lake. Swim in Tenaya Lake from the nice beach at the east end. It is very cold. Hike to the High Sierra Camp at Glen Aulin or drive in your car west of Olmstead Point and hike to the High Sierra Camp at May Lake. Fish in Budd Lake. Bury some treasure in a glass jar and visit it each year. My treasure is in the woods west of Parsons Lodge. Go to the valley on a day trip if you must or if you've never been there before. We haven't been to the valley in fifteen years.

The road to Tuolumne Meadows is open from maybe July 1st to maybe sometime in early October. Tuolumne Meadows is rustic to say the least. It has a few frills but only a few. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. Just a slow walk from the store to Parson's Lodge, across the meadow and return along the river, is worth the trip.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 46
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2009

Loved this campground. The sites are spacious and your neighbor is not right there like in the campgrounds in Yosemite Valley (I didn't like the campgrounds in Yosemite Valley). Most of the places seemed like it was in the shade which is a big plus during the midday summer heat. No showers, but that's the point of camping...to rough it out and live out under the stars for a couple of nights. The roads to the campsite are pretty bumpy, but considering how much snow they get during the winter and the associated wear and tear I wasn't surprised. If you arrive late, the rangers leave a sign at the entrance of the campground telling you where your site is...it's pretty dark (duh no street lamps or light in general) so it'll take a while to figure out where to go and where your campsite is if you arrive at like 11pm. The darkness is great for star gazing though.

Tuolumne Meadows itself is fantastic. The scenery is gorgeous and since it's so high up, it's nice and cool. Also since we went in September, there wasn't as many people. We did 8+ mile hikes per day (Glen Aulin and Cathedral Lakes) and the scenery was gorgeous.

I highly recommend this place.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Memphis, TN
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2009

This was our first trip to Yosemite. It was amazing. It was one of the most spectular places I've ever been .

We stayed in Tuolumne Meadows campground in a pop-up camper. We didn't know there were NO SHOWERS until we got there. That's the biggest downside to the campground. There are pay showers 30 minutes away. We knew there were no hooks up or electricity. Campsite was only $20.

The weather in Tuolumne was fantastic - high 70s in the day/40s in the night (late July). It was so comfortable all day. The camp sites were spacious and we had lots of privacy. The campground roads were terrible and a chore to drive our camper with bike racks through. It took 20 minutes to drive the circle.

Tuolumne is a gorgeous, high sierra meadow. There are interesting domes and rock formations everywhere. We have four young children, and they loved hiking through the meadows. They saw lots of cool wildlife (including lots of deer at twilight). The river is fun to play in and around. We maxed out with the 3 mile hike from the campground to the visitor center to Soda Springs to Lembert Dome parking lot and back to the camp store (ice cream!). It was a great way to spend a day.

We only drove into Yosemite Valley for one 1/2 day. Half dome and El Capitan were cool. The kids' highlight was climbing the big rocks up to the base of the Lower Falls. This was a great adventure for us all.

Ran out of time, but we wanted to see the sequioyah grove at Mariposa Grove.

Also, planned to have a picnic on Olmstead Point (breathtaking stop on Tioga Pass going from Tuolumne to the Valley), but the parking lot was full.

Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tuolumne Meadows Campground

Address: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, CA
Location: United States > California > Yosemite National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 26 Specialty Lodging in Yosemite National Park
Number of rooms: 304
Also Known As:
Tuolumne Meadows Campground Hotel Yosemite National Park

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