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Hiking & Camping General Information
Hiking & Camping inside Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park has more than 800 miles of hiking trails to enjoy. Most of the popular hiking trails are located in Yosemite Valley, winding past waterfalls and granite monoliths. The hiking trails vary in length and difficulty. Hikers can climb up the side of Half Dome while holding onto steel cables or stroll up to the base of Yosemite Falls through a refreshing mist of falling water. Yosemite has hiking trails for everyone, from the serious backpacker to the four-year-old nature-lover. Some of the more popular hiking trails are: Lower Yosemite Fall, Bridalveil Fall, Nevada and Vernal Falls, Sentinel Dome, Panorama Trail, 4-Mile Trail and Ostrander Lake. The weather changes quickly in Yosemite; always check the forecast before leaving on a hike. When hiking, be sure to carry food and water, and dress appropriately. Even though most of the trails are clearly marked, it is a good idea to have a detailed map while hiking in Yosemite. A shuttle bus runs along the Yosemite Valley, delivering hikers to the trailheads. The “Map and Guide to Yosemite Valley” published by the National Parks service lists hiking trails, famous Yosemite landmarks and public facilities. In the summer season, the hiking trails on the Valley floor can become crowded. Tuolumne Meadows offers a huge network of hiking trails that follow mountain streams and alpine lakes, and a view of Yosemite that most people don’t see. The park’s paper, Yosemite Today, lists hiking trail closures and the visitor’s centers have detailed information on each hike.
Camping in Yosemite gives visitors a chance to feel like they are experiencing the American dream. Surrounded by rushing rivers and shining stars, campers get close to nature. But camping can be difficult in the Yosemite Valley; campground reservations fill up quickly and camps can be crowded. There are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, with 1,445 campsites, making camping difficult in peak season. The camping limit in Yosemite Valley and Wawona is seven days. Camping reservations can be made on the Yosemite National Park website. Campgrounds outside of the Valley are easier to get in to, and make for a more adventurous camping experience. Bridalveil Creek campground is out of the Yosemite Valley floor, but camping here provides easy access to hiking trails for Ostrander Lake and Sentinel Dome. Tuolumne Meadows Campground is the largest in the park, and has camping sites near the Tuolumne River. Tuolumne Meadows Campground has a restaurant nearby and a general store. Bears and other wild animals are common in Yosemite; many campgrounds provide bear-proof containers for visitors to store food in. Camping is a fun and exciting experience in Yosemite. Be sure to leave each campsite clean and litter-free for the next person to enjoy.