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“Great group site for the family!!!” 4 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
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great group site for the family!!!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2012

I read tripadvisor's reviews a lot, so I decided to write one to give information about Tuolumne's group sites. Just got back from 3 nights (Wed.- Sat.) early August camping at Tuolumne Campground. We were really lucky to get this Group Site B when someone cancelled. I tried that 4 months early reservation method and that was a joke. My daughter and I tried on two different computers, and all the available sites were gone in 5 minutes. For anyone who wants to try this method, try calling instead or check everyday for cancellations. As you get closer to your trip date, cancellations do pop up at Yosemite campsites. I was able to get this group site plus another individual site. (Hint: Start checking a month before, several times a day.)

Out of all Tuolumne Meadows groups sites, I would have to say that groups sites A and B are the best. They're on flat land with plenty of parking space. The other sites were on a slight hill. They supposedly only allow 5 cars, but they don't check. We were able to park 7 cars. The first night, we got another extra site just in case because we have 30 people, 7 cars, 7 tents, and a shelter tent for eating. We were able to fit everything in the group site, so we didn't even need the individual site.

On the first night, we were visited by a bear around 9:30 p.m. near our food boxes. We started shouting, and it ran away. It then went to the group site across from us, and all the boyscouts there came out with their flashlights. The bear ended up climbing a tree and just sat there. The rangers came and had everyone leave. When the bear came down, they shot a gun to scare away the bear. Unfortunately, we had a bear visit every night, so we were more careful about storing our food away early. I was a bit fearful on the first night but got used to their visits by the last nights. They weren't agressive; they just wanted some food. They ran away as soon as they heard shouting. Finally, on the third night, the rangers brought a trailer to trap the bear, but I don't know if it was caught. They came by and told us that they think it's the one they trapped last year. The bear that we saw had two little pegs on its ear which symbolizes how many times they were trapped.

Now, let me move on to our first full day visit to Yosemite Valley which is about 1.5 hours away from Tuolumne. Too crowded!!! Don't go there if you've already been there before. Since we had families who were there for the first time, we did go. A word of advice...park your car by any of the shuttle bus stops and just get around the valley on the shuttle bus. They come pretty often and parking is terrible. We ended up hiking Vernal Fall, and it was beautiful. Yosemite fall which is by fall less strenuous had no water because of the low snowfall last year. Afterwards, we showered at Curry Village $5. They give you everything..towels, soap, shampoo. I think you can also swim in their swimming pool. We got there late when the pool was closed.

The next full day we spent at Tuolumne Meadows. We walked up Puppy Dome (? not quite sure of its name, definitely not Lembert Dome) and went to the beach at Tenaya Lake. Our group liked this day the best. The pictures from top of the Puppy Dome came out great (easy short hike...make a left when you come out of the campground), and Tenaya Lake was beautiful and relaxing. The little kids and teenagers had a great time swmming in the lake. They found a big log and had a blast trying to stand on top it and peddling.

All in all, we had a great time at Yosemite. Don't let the bears deter you. The rangers came soon after we called them. We kind of felt sorry for them. This was the first time that we came across bears in our 10 years of camping. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be. Next year, we're going to try Kings Canyon/Sequoia.

Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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40 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 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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Cave City, AR
Level Contributor
26 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2012

We stayed here before our high sierra camp mule ride. We stayed in tent 56 right by the river which runs by the camp. We ate that night in their diner which was good. Sit by the campfire, which they make for you and had smores. All in all a good place, you get used to getting your stuff together to put in the bear boxes.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
35 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
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.
San Francisco
Level Contributor
25 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 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
Level Contributor
23 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 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 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clovis, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 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 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mt. Cook Village, New Zealand
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 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 48
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 #15 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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