We somehow snagged what appears to have been one of the best campsites in the entire Yosemite Valley -- site 136. It was clean and complete with a fire pit, bear bin, and picnic table, but the real prize was that it was situated right along the burbling Tenaya Creek AND that we could see Half Dome through the trees! We could set up our camp chairs along the river and read or just take in the beauty of the surroundings. It was perfect.
Except for the heat -- we foolishly decided to visit in the middle of August, and it ended up being horribly hot, dry, and dusty, with no breeze to break up the heat. It was hard to enjoy hiking or simply moving at all with that kind of weather, so we decided to leave a day early. The other problem with going in August is that the waterfalls are dry. So I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Yosemite to come in June when the waterfalls are flowing and the weather is more mild.
We tend to be solitude-seekers when we camp, but we wanted a site in the Valley so that we could explore the major sites. We found out very quickly that the Valley is very busy and loud. It feels more like a theme park than a national park, with tour buses and souvenir shops and lines of people hiking along the trails. So if you're coming for a peaceful escape from crowds, this is not your spot. I would recommend somewhere outside the Valley instead. There are still beautiful sites to be seen elsewhere in the park.
The campground itself was not terribly loud, but there was definitely a higher level of noise from all the people, generators, cars, and bear bins. People are always coming and going and talking loudly. We didn't enjoy that as much, but it was the price to pay to have easy access to some of the most amazing views we've ever seen in all our camping trips.
We didn't see any bears, but we heard several times each night when the park rangers would be yelling and making noise to scare away a bear in the area. That disrupted our sleep a little, but it's better to be safe and it's better that the bears stay away from humans. The bears are very conditioned to know that the campgrounds have food, so please put all food, snacks, treats, beauty/personal care products, sunscreen, or anything scented in the bear bin provided at the campsite. We need to keep the bears wild!
Everyone should visit Yosemite once in his or her lifetime, and North Pines offers a perfect central location to the main attractions in the Valley -- if you're willing to sacrifice quiet and solitude for breathtaking sights and less driving time.
- Also Known As:
- North Pines Campground Hotel Yosemite National Park