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.
- Also Known As:
- Tuolumne Meadows Campground Hotel Yosemite National Park