- The Ahwahnee (now the Majestic Yosemite)
Campgrounds are in high demand in Yosemite National Park, so plan your trip early and snag a spot before they’re snatched up. These sites fill up within seconds of availability. Yosemite’s awe-inspiring views don’t wait for you to brew your morning coffee and stretch.
We lucked out and snatched up site 71 in Lower Pines mid-season, when someone miraculously cancelled their reservation. It turned out to be (in our opinion) the best campsite in the Yosemite valley. Many other sites sit directly adjacent to a road, or are packed tightly together.
Lower Pines is a bit further away (0.5 miles) than is Upper Pines from Happy Isles and the entrance to some of the hikes and trails (Mist and Muir trails up to Vernal and Nevada falls) but it’s worth the walk. The site directly to the right of ours was lovely as well.
The majority of the wildlife in Yosemite has no qualms about checking you out. For them, the humans in this haven are benign; something that makes this an incredibly special place.
Rangers shoot them with rubber shotgun shells to deter them from entering human-populated areas, and every site comes with its own bear locker. Keeping food and other scented items hanging about, whether it be in your car or on a picnic table, is prohibited. They’re serious about the bears here. Rules are just as much for the safety of the bears as they are for the people. If a bear becomes a danger in the campgrounds its own life is at risk, as troublesome bears are euthanized. And I’m pretty sure we’d all also like to leave Yosemite with our car doors still attached. Save the bears; use your bear locker.
Not even kidding, there are signs strewn about regarding wildlife carrying the plague. Yep, the bubonic kind. So don’t, like, let the squirrels dig into your bag of chips. Nobody wants the plague.
If you don’t stay at the Ahwahnee-now-Majestic (see the dumb reason they had to recently change the name), at least pop in for a cup of tea (you can find tea, coffee, and nice bathrooms on the second floor starting around 6am and available through mid-morning. Shh don’t tell). Sit outside to take in the adorable-yet-possibly-plaguey squirrels and the scenery. There’s also free water on the outside patio for everyone to enjoy as they pass through.