Van Travel to Yosemite National Park | RV Camping & Fun Things to See
Traveling in a van to Yosemite National Park is an enchanting experience. The forests, waterfalls, and granite rock formations in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains are breathtaking. Follow windy roads into the Yosemite Valley before setting up for a night of camping amongst the pine trees.
This guide aims to cover what it will cost you to stay in RV parks in Yosemite. As well as what you can see when traveling in a van to Yosemite National Park.
RV Camping in Yosemite National Park
A camper van is considered an RV in Yosemite since it has a liveable space. An RV gives you freedom seldom found when traveling on public transport. They also provide creature comforts that you just can’t find while camping.
If you’re wondering whether you can drive a camper into Yosemite National Park, the answer is yes (and you definitely should). Tarred roads wind throughout Yosemite Valley, making driving an exciting experience.
And if you’re planning a road trip from Los Angeles, we recommend you visit Castaic lakes on your way to Yosemite National Park for some of the best lake camping in Los Angeles.
When to Travel by Van to Yosemite
While stunning throughout the year, spring (between March and May) is the perfect time to visit Yosemite Valley. The waterfalls, wildflowers, and divine weather make May the best month to visit. We recommend contacting the Yosemite RV campsites to find out the earliest dates they expect to open. Then plan your trip accordingly.
During winter, snow can limit access to some roads and campgrounds. The North Pines site closes during the coldest periods of the year.
If extreme winds or heavy snowfall occurs, the camping sites can be closed on short notice.
How Much Does it Cost to Stay in Yosemite?
An entrance fee of $35 is charged per vehicle (valid for seven days) when entering the national park. Alternatively, a Yosemite National Park annual pass is $70 and is valuable if you plan on returning.
Another option is the National Park Annual Pass. It is only $80 and gives you a year’s access to many national parks and federal recreational lands.
In addition to the entrance fee, Yosemite camping sites cost between $26 and $36 per night for up to 6 persons.
Free Camping in Yosemite: Dispersed Camping
Unfortunately, there is no free camping permitted within Yosemite National Park. However, there are public lands and National Forests nearby that permit up to 14 days of wild camping.
Dispersed camping is suited to camper vans as these sites offer no amenities or ablutions. When wild camping, you should have the least impact possible on the location you visit and aim to leave only footprints behind.
RV Sites in Yosemite National Park
Camping at Yosemite National Park is a great way to relax after a day in the outdoors. There is, however, a 30-night camping limit in a calendar year. Here are three RV sites where you can spend the night in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite Camping Upper Pines
Accessible all year round, this Yosemite campground requires reservations and costs $26 per night. With 238 sites, it is the largest camp in Yosemite National Park.
It has paved roads, and each campsite has a fire ring, picnic table, and a food locker. Bathrooms with drinking water and flushing toilets are well-positioned.
Yosemite Lower Pines Campgrounds
Suitable from April to October, the Lower Pines camp requires reservations and costs $26 per night. The campground has 60 sites, of which 3 are double campsites that can accommodate two vans for only $36 per night.
Yosemite North Pines Campground
The North Pines camp is close to the Merced River and has 81 scenic sites. It is typically open from March through to October and costs $26 per night.
The Best Way to See Yosemite National Park
Whether you are traveling by van, hiking the mountainside, or learning to rock climb, you will return home with unforgettable stories of your trip to Yosemite Valley. Here are some of the best ways to experience all this national treasure has to offer.
Walk Down the Panorama Trail
An 8.5-mile route following the mist trail should take 4 hours to complete. It gives you impressive views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Descend 3,200 ft in elevation from Glacier Point to the Happy Isles visitor center in Yosemite Valley.
We recommend you pack a rain-jacket though. The dramatic Vernal Fall can leave you soaking wet!
Hike up the 4 Mile Trail
This route takes 3 hours and follows the path of an old toll trail. It maintains a steep grade covering 3,200 ft of elevation over the 4.8-mile route. Enjoy spectacular views of El Capitan and, eventually, Half Dome.
The Four Mile Trail starts at the base of sentinel rock and ends at Glacier Point. Walk down the panorama trail back into Yosemite Valley or continue up a strenuous path to the Half Dome.
When camping in Yosemite Valley it is hard not to admire the rock climbers above you. Beginner lessons cost $172 and are not for the faint of heart – reaching a height of 60 feet on the first day.
Book Your Yosemite RV Camping Now
Ready for your adventure through Yosemite, enquire about booking a van with us now. Yosemite is an incredible National Park to visit in any season. The variety of outdoor activities and excellent camping facilities make this a top destination for van travel.
Experience van life at Yosemite National Park and share the highlights from your travels in a comment below.