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“TUOLUMNE MEADOWS CAMPGROUND IS PRIME CAMPING” 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
Mt. Cook Village, New Zealand
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“TUOLUMNE MEADOWS CAMPGROUND IS PRIME CAMPING”
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
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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
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English first
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Memphis, TN
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 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.

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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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