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“Not bad and a good value”

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Upper Pines Campground
Certificate of Excellence
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Not bad and a good value”
Reviewed August 30, 2010

I'll start by saying that I don't have much experince in large car-camping campgrounds, because we usually stick to smaller remote locations during backpacking trips. However, my our two nights at Upper Pines were a good experience and I would recommend the campground.

Each camp site comes with a picnic table, a firepit, and a bear-proof food locker. FOOD LOCKER: in general, they are pretty big and can fit a couple coolers and lots of bags with food and toiletries. Check the Yosemite website to see the food locker sizes, as some sites have new ones, which differ slightly in size form the old ones. The web site will tell you the sizes by camp site number. FIRE PIT: it's a round metal fire barrier with a grill that covers a third of the space. This grill is too high from the ground to cook with coals, even though you can position it at 4 different levels. To fix the issue, we built a base with large rocks and put coals on top of the rocks. It worked very well and it created a lot of hear with the rocks.

The bathrooms have real flushing toilets and sinks with mirrors. There is no warm water and bring your own soap and towel. They are well stocked with toilet paper and they are kept pretty clean. For warm showers you have to walk or drive to Camp Curry. It's about a 10 minute walk - you'll need to bring your towel, soap, flip-flops recommended, and hair dryer if you need one.

NOISE: overall, everybody respects the 10pm quiet time. By 10:30pm you will probably hear a little noise, but not too bad.

We did not experience the high smoke situation as others have. It wasn't bad. Definitely dusty, as you are camping on the dry ground, not in the grass.

Going to Yosemite, you should expect major campgrounds that are always crowded, so if you want to be alone in the woods, plan to go somewhere else or maybe camp in the backpaking camps up the mountains in the park. Our Upper Pines site number was #185, which was a larger corner lot, not too far nor too close from the bathrooms, and with woods across the little road. I can see how some other lots that are smaller and positioned more in the center of the campground would make a person feel very crowded... but if this is your only option in the always-booked Yosemite, it's not bad. We camped here because it was the only way we could stay in the park - if we wanted to be remote and being in Yosemite was not a priority, we would have not camped in Upper Pines.

I would recommend avoiding the lots adiacent to the bathrooms, as they are going to be more noisy (people walking back and forth) and also bright through the night (movement sensors for the lights in the bathroom).

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
7 Thank FairReviewerOnTheGo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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128 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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  • German first
  • Italian first
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  • Any
English first
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2010

My hubby and I stayed here towards the end of a 3-week camping roadtrip through CA. We had read about little privacy and it's true, there wasn't much. However, we had plenty of space at our site and the neighbours were friendly but quiet. Across the road were some party-hearty people, but we lucked out. It seemed like the dumpsters were mostly near the main campground road that the loops branched off of, and I imagine those sites would have been noisy because of the dumpsters and more traffic. The only wildlife we saw in camp was a coyote (off to the side), lots of birds, and many many squirrels who weren't aggressive but certainly never gave up on trying to find food amongst our stuff. There seems to be some kind of tracking system in place for bears who have previously entered the campground, so I wasn't too paranoid about being chased to the bathroom at night.

Two issues with this place: No warm water in the bathroom taps, and no showers. We knew about the lack of showers, and had planned on paying for them elsewhere in the park. However, we were shocked that they wanted to charge $5 per person as at state parks the showers use quarters and you can usually have a decent one for $1. $5 per shower, per person, over 4 days was more than we wanted to pay so... here's a suggestion for the adventurous: we had a huge spare tarp with us. We strung it around two trees that were close to each other to form a tall enclosure (being careful not to actually tie it to the trees in case rangers complained), heated some water on our stove and put it in a bucket and, using a cup as a scoop, had relatively warm mid-afternoon showers each day for FREE. Right in our campsite.

Overall this was a great campground with fantastic trees, mountains surrounding us, and it was close to Happy Isles, Curry Village, and several bus stops.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
6 Thank jossthorp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
24 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed October 10, 2009

Our pitch at Upper Pines was more than big enough for our little 3 man tent and it was good to get a fire pit and bench as standard, as this helped for late night campfire tales and smores-making. We chose a pitch at the back of Upper Pines which made it a longer walk to Curry Village for amenities but much closer to Happy Isles for the walks to Nevada Falls and Half Dome. Camping at the far end of the site also had its benefits noise wise as some people did have a habit of arriving with their enormous RVs well past midnight which wasn't conducive to a sound night's sleep. As a true camper (with a tent) Upper Pines was a little heavy on the HV-side which made it feel quite impersonal, so many people in their own little boxes. From what we could tell Camp C had more spirit, being tents only, but was much further from the amenities (although well placed for climbing El Capitan if that's your thing. My only true grouse would be the lack of shower facilities. Toilet blocks were everywhere and surely these can be adapted at the very least for a cold water shower rather than having to traipse over to Curry Village and pay $5 in overcrowded facilities that were fairly dirty despite being monitored (I'm not saying I expect super clean showers in a camp site but I do expect them when I'm paying $5 - and I'd be doubly annoyed if I'd paid $100 a night and was in Curry Village tents having to share with smelly campers). Other than that - and the majestic views - $20 a night is a real bargain so worth booking significantly in advance.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank bishclone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia
Level Contributor
29 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed August 25, 2009

I was well prepared for a very "close" camping experience at upper pines, but it even exceeded my expectations. The people are on top of each other and very rude. RV's run their generators whenever they want, not just during the approved times, the "quiet hours" are a joke. Rangers had to be called out on several occations at midnight. The bathrooms were a mess and there were bears in the camp everynight that work everyone up. Almost every site exceeded the 6 person maximum and several had 3-4 tents. I was excited about staying in the valley, but I never would again. Right before Yosemite, we stayed in Sequoia and that was a wonderful camping experience even though it was also very full.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank adshansel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed July 15, 2009

I was a little disappointed with upper pines because I just didn't feel like I was camping. Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp as well as lower and north pines camping grounds are really close by so I didn't get that sense of seclusion I was hoping for. The valley itself is pretty developed being that it's supposed to be a National Park, but the scenery was gorgeous nonetheless.

The site itself was kinda small and you're really close to your neighbors. By 10pm the campsite was quiet and everyone was asleep except for a few people. If you plan on seeing the sights or hiking extensively in the valley itself, it's a good location to be at since everything is close by and you can take the shuttle around the valley. I still enjoyed the site, but I would've preferred to be more secluded from my neighbors.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank hana24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Netherlands
Level Contributor
39 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed September 10, 2007

We spent four nights here with two teens. We're from the Netherlands and we enjoyed the large campsites, the nature and the animals, including the blue birds, the squirrels and even a bear. Although the campground was full, it was more quiet than at European campgrounds. Moreover, the kids loved the camp fires, which is not common in Europe either. Compared to Lower Pines, Upper Pines seems to me as a better place to stay.
The shuttle was very convenient and we spent this time with hiking, biking and swimming. Unfortunately, August is not the time to enjoy the falls, and rafting was not possible. Curry Village was a nice place to eat a pizza or a taco.
Finally, do not stay just in the Valley, as the entire park is beautiful.
Sooner or later, we will come back.

  • Stayed August 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
Helpful?
4 Thank AtmaNeth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Barbara, CA
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed September 4, 2006

Spent 2 nights in Upper Pines on my way to Toulumne Meadows. This was midweek at the end of August 2006. The campground was full, and arriving around dinnertime I was dismayed by the crowds and noise. However, I discovered that this was really the only noisy time of the day. Folks were quiet by 10 PM, and early risers were generally respectful. Location has a lot to do with it--a particulary bad site was located between the dumpster and the restroom--so pay attention to the online map when reserving. If possible, bring bikes or plan on using the shuttle, it's not practical to drive your car to the different attractions in Yosemite Valley. No mosquitoes this late in the season, but if you have a screen house to dine in, bring it! The yellowjackets can be very aggressive and they love to see you cooking meat! You will have to go to Curry Village for a shower.
Even though this wasn't my best camping experience, the beauty of the Valley is well worth a visit!

Helpful?
11 Thank susee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Upper Pines Campground

Property: Upper Pines Campground
Address: East Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Location: United States > California > Yosemite National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 24 Specialty Lodging in Yosemite National Park
Number of rooms: 238
Also Known As:
Upper Pines Campground Hotel Yosemite National Park

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