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When you’re planning a trip to California, Yosemite National Park is one of the top attractions to visit. However, if you choose class B RV rental, you’re probably wondering if you can park your camper van overnight in Yosemite National Park and what the rules are for where you can take your RV in the park during your visit. We’ll cover all the information here so you feel prepared before planning your trip. 

Can You Sleep in Your Van in Yosemite? 

If you reserve a designated campsite at Yosemite National Park, you can sleep in a camper van or RV in your campsite as long as the vehicle fits in the site’s parking space. However, overnight sleeping and van parking aren’t allowed in Yosemite outside of designated campsites, so you have to reserve one to use it as a sleeping location. 

Where Can You Camp in Yosemite with Vans?

When you embrace van life, you have a lot of flexibility during camping trips since you can take all your essentials with you in a single vehicle. However, due to the length of oversized camper vans and RVs, you can’t park them at every campsite since they might not fit in small tent sites. 

At Yosemite, there are several different campgrounds throughout the national park, and some will be better suited to use a camper van than others. Here are the four campgrounds that have RV-accessible spaces:

  • North Pines Campground: This is the biggest campground in Yosemite. It can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long, so you won’t have any problems fitting a camper van in these sites since they only range from 17-19 feet long on average. 
  • Upper Pines Campground: It’s slightly smaller than North Pines and will fit RVs up to 35 feet long in the campsites. 
  • Curry Village: A little more compact, Curry Village will fit most vehicles that are 30 feet long or under. 
  • Yosemite Falls: Will also fit most vehicles that are 30 feet long or smaller. 

Can You Leave Your Car Overnight in Yosemite? 

Since you can’t sleep in a van overnight without being in a designated campsite, some might wonder about sleeping in a car as a workaround instead. However, the same rules still apply. You can only leave a car overnight in Yosemite National Park if it’s at a designated campsite. 

Plus, If you want a vehicle to sleep in, having a camper van at a campsite will be a lot more comfortable than using your car. 

Can I Park My RV Anywhere in Yosemite? 

You can’t park your RV anywhere in Yosemite National Park. Due to the size of these vehicles, Yosemite restricts where you can park them, as some of the parking lots throughout the park don’t have big enough spaces. 

Places where you can park an RV during the day while you explore the park are in the Half Dome Village Day Use a lot or in the parking lot west of Yosemite Valley Lodge, across from Camp 4. Once the sun goes down, you’ll need to either leave the park in your RV or park it in a designated campsite that you paid for. 

Rent a Camper Van from Escape Camper Vans

When you’re planning a trip to Yosemite, Escape Camper Vans is a great choice for getting reliable and affordable travel vehicles. We have two rental locations in California and nine other pickup and dropoff spots throughout the U.S. 

Our vans come with:

  • Queen size beds
  • Propane stove
  • Refrigerator
  • Sink with a water tank
  • Extra storage
  • Foldaway tables and chairs
  • And more

Reserve yours today, or contact us with any other questions you may have. 

Yosemite Campgrounds

For ease of use, we’ve included two maps in this overview: the one above is a listing of all campsites within Yosemite National Park. The sites along Highway 120—including White Wolf and Yosemite Creek—have plenty of first-come, first-served campsites. Yosemite Valley, on the other hand, only has reserved campgrounds that book up to 6 months in advance during the summer months.

Tips for Camping in Yosemite Valley

If you must stay in Yosemite Valley — where 99% of all tourists want to stay — there is a slim chance you’ll be able to find a site. But it’ll be worth it if you do, as you’ll have a lot less driving during your visit, meaning more time for adventures.

Most people book their Yosemite campsite reservations months in advance of their travel date at www.reserveamerica.com. This is great news for non-planners because some people who reserve sites don’t show up after all, which means there are unexpected openings.

Here’s how you get one of these openings:

  • Stay outside the park in a Forest Service camping site near the entrance of Yosemite National Park.
  • Get up at 5:30 am and drive to the Campground Reservations building in the heart of Yosemite Valley. This is a small, wooden structure with a bulletin board to the left of it.
  • Wait in line until they open and put your name on the waiting list for a campsite.
  • Enjoy your day in Yosemite.
  • Come back in the afternoon to (hopefully) hear your name called for a campsite.

Campground 4

You may have heard of this spot because it’s where some of the best rock climbers in the world tend to camp out. Located in Yosemite Valley, this hike-in campground is solely for people prepared to sleep in tents or on the ground. But do NOT sleep in the parking lot, as you will definitely get caught.

Yosemite Dispersed Camping

Camping Outside of Yosemite Valley

Gameplan for First-Come, First-Served Camping

  1. Show up when people are leaving. This applies to all first-come first-served campgrounds in and near Yosemite National Park. Note: campgrounds in Yosemite Valley are NOT first-come, first-served.
  2. Get there between 9 and 10 am and scope out the campsites looking for likely candidates who are packing up. Ask if they’re taking off, and slide in like a champ if they are. It’d be nice to give them a beer or two as thanks for the insider information.

Campgrounds Inside Yosemite National Park

You won’t be right in Yosemite Valley, but this is your next best bet.

  • White Wolf: Great campground located on Highway 120 west of Tioga Pass. Higher altitude makes for nice, cool evenings.
  • Tamarack Flat: The tight, windy road weeds out the full-size RV crew. Closer to the valley than other non-valley sites. This is an Escape favorite.
  • Yosemite Creek on Highway 120: One lane road that goes for several miles, meaning few to no RVs, which means awesome. Drive slow, take your time, and thank us later. (Remember, your insurance is void on roads that are not maintained, so this is at your own risk.)
  • Bridalveil Creek: Located on Glacier Point Road, this is a truly spectacular non-valley campground. It has plenty of sites and makes a great jump off point for several epic hikes.
  • Tuolumne Meadows: Most people think this is a reservation-only campground, but it also has some first-come sites. Get there early if you’re dead set on staying there.

Campgrounds Just Outside Of Yosemite National Park

Within an hour from each Yosemite National Park entrance, there are several campgrounds operated by the State Parks or private individuals. Here’s a list of some Escape-approved campgrounds outside of the park.

Highway 120 (West of Yosemite)

  • Pine Mountain: Groveland, CA. (209)962-8615. 52 miles from Yosemite Village.
  • Yosemite Lakes: Groveland, CA. (209)962-0103. 32 miles from Yosemite Village.

Highway 120 (East of Yosemite)

All campgrounds on this side of the Sierras near Yosemite are all first come, first served You should be fine getting a site by just showing up. If not, see Dispersed Camping Rules below.

  • Big Bend Campground: 3 miles west of Lee Vining, the campground is on the right (9 miles east of Tioga Pass).
  • Ellery Lake Campground: 7 miles west of Lee Vining (2 miles east of Tioga Pass in Yosemite). Nice spot.
  • Tioga Lake Campground: 7 miles west of Lee Vining (1 mile east of Tioga Pass)
  • June Lakes Region: 15 miles south of Lee Vining on Hwy 120/395. This is a great place to camp. Many campgrounds. Rarely crowded. Mosquitos mid-summer.

Highway 140 (Southwest of Yosemite)

  • Yosemite West/Mariposa KOA. (209)966-2432. Not very aesthetically pleasing but it works in a bind. 16 miles to Yosemite Village.
  • Yosemite Trail Camp. (209)966-6444. 37 miles from Yosemite Village.

Highway 41 (South of Yosemite)

Most of these campgrounds are first come, first serve.  Look up Fishcamp Camping for State Park camping sites

  • High Sierra RV Park: (559)683-7662
  • Forks Campground: (559)642-3212

Yosemite Dispersed Camping Rules

Car camping in Yosemite and any National Forest Land within the United States is legal. As a general rule, most National Parks are surrounded by National Forests (Zion National Park is one exception). Any standard state map and road atlas will define National Forest Land in light green. Dark green typically highlights National Parks — make sure you can tell the difference.

Rules:

  • No fires without a permit from the National Forest Ranger Station. Permits are free.
  • No ground tents can be deployed.
  • No camping within 200 meters of the main highway.
  • No camping at any location marked Private Property.

Read our full guide to dispersed camping.

Take a Camper Van to Yosemite

Instead of hauling tents out to a campsite, book a campervan from Escape. Our fully-equipped, easy-to-drive campervans are perfect for any national park adventure. If you’re headed out to Yosemite, read more about when to book national park campsites.  Plus, our staff at the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas depots are very knowledgeable about this topic. Give them a ring at (877) -270-8267, and pick their brains when you arrive to pick up your camper van rental.

Visiting Grand Canyon National Park? Visit our blog on how to find camping at the Grand Canyon without reservations.

3 thoughts on “Where Can I Park My Van Overnight in Yosemite?”

  1. Thank you for your helpful information. We planned a trip to Yosemite 6 months ago & just found out our reservations were cancelled. Apparently we did not receive our notification the grounds were being worked on.
    We are considering going on a 1st come 1st served site but are concerned since we have a 6hour drive. We are open to tent camping outside of Yosemite Village, please share your thoughts is possible.
    Thank you again,
    Arlene Smith

  2. In spite of Yosemite often being sold-out, a lot of spots open up when folks cancel their reservations. My friend and I made a tool that scans for new cancellations and sends a text message when one opens up. You can find it at: https://www.campnab.com

    Yosemite is popular, so, if you do use our service you’ll need to act fast. Those newly opened spots are rebooked pretty quickly. So, we can let you know when something’s available—but the rest is up to you. 🙂

    Happy camping!

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