Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolumne to Valley Hike

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roller62
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Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolumne to Valley Hike

Post by roller62 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:45 pm

Hey all,
I have been lurking here a couple years enjoying the various trip reports and Sierra goodness that this community provides. I have just been a day hiker to this point but one of my geezer friends at work talked me into into doing an easy trip from Tuolumne down to the Valley tagging Clouds Rest and Half Dome on the way. We managed to snag a permit for that last day of June so we are now looking at the logistics. The one thing we are not sure of is where to stay the night before the hike. The NPS web site says that non-reserved sites at TM campground don't open up until July (though I imagine that date is flexible depending on when the road opens up). The web site specifically says that unreserved campsites in the park are rare before July.

So we will likely have to play it by ear to find a nearby campsite before we head in at Cathedral Lakes TH. Of course, to increase the difficulty we are arriving on a Friday afternoon before the 4th of July (driving up from San Diego).
Anyone have experience getting into the NPS campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon or just outside the park in that timeframe? The Sawmill campground on the way to Saddlebag lake looks cool, but google maps earth view shows even that lot can get full (as a reference).

Is it going to be real tough to find a place to stay close to the park on an early summer weekend? I know there is no dispersed camping in Lee Vining canyon so I'm thinking worse case may put us all the way back in the June lake area.


Thanks

Ron in SD








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bobby49
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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by bobby49 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:01 pm

How about the Saddlebag Lake campground, itself?

Also, there is a place that I will refer to as Camp Nine, but that is kind of sketchy.

You were not clear about whether you were doing this trip as a dayhike or as an overnight trip.

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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by markskor » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:47 pm

As it is a dry year, and the PCTers will be coming thru, (Yosemite has to put them somewhere), and the fact that you have a letter saying you have a reserved permit...plan to stay TM Backpacker (no reservation needed/ $6.00 pp / one night only) - legal - the usual plan for what you are doing. FYI, Last year (with heavy snow), the BP campground was also open before July 4th, but not advertised as such...(I know because I was there.) Park car at Lembert Dome road, and can leave it there until end of trip...then morning Shuttle bus to Sunrise TH, or if shuttle bus is not running yet, then have to drive to TH.
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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by balzaccom » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:28 pm

Listen to Marksor. The backpacker's campground is the way to go.
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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by Dave_Ayers » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:11 am

In low snow years, both TM and White Wolf backpacker camps are usually open by 6/30. See the past opening dates at https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/seasonal.htm . If you want to stay at a BP camp, you'll need to arrive early enough to get your permit (before 4:30) at one of the permit stations.

IME, the campgrounds east of Yosemite along 120 do tend to fill up on Fridays. I'd suggest getting to those earlier in the afternoon if you can. Note also that the ADA campsite in those campgrounds opens to the general public at either 3 or 4 (I don't recall which). So sometimes a person can grab that last site even when the camp is 'full' per the sign out front.

Since you are likely coming up 395, there are also campgrounds at Mammoth Lakes and June Lakes. Those are at around 8,000 feet elevation so they are useful for altitude acclimation. Several of those campgrounds can be reserved in advance via recreation.gov so you'll know you have a spot. Also, there are motels at both areas.

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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by markskor » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:27 pm

Dave_Ayers wrote:In low snow years, both TM and White Wolf backpacker camps are usually open by 6/30. If you want to stay at a BP camp, you'll need to arrive early enough to get your permit (before 4:30) at one of the permit stations.
Rangers at the BP camp TM will take your permit reserved letter as "good enough" proof of an actual wilderness permit. They know permit office closes early (4:30) and many arrive later. Repeat - stay TM Backpacker.

Another thought, if...coming up Tioga, just before the green bridge, just before 9,000 ft sign, there is a pull out and a short hike past the gate northside...can always stay there too.
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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by austex » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:24 pm

markskor wrote:
Dave_Ayers wrote:In low snow years, both TM and White Wolf backpacker camps are usually open by 6/30. If you want to stay at a BP camp, you'll need to arrive early enough to get your permit (before 4:30) at one of the permit stations.
Rangers at the BP camp TM will take your permit reserved letter as "good enough" proof of an actual wilderness permit. They know permit office closes early (4:30) and many arrive later. Repeat - stay TM Backpacker.

Another thought, if...coming up Tioga, just before the green bridge, just before 9,000 ft sign, there is a pull out and a short hike past the gate northside...can always stay there too.
I think Bobby referred to it too:
Also, there is a place that I will refer to as Camp Nine, but that is kind of sketchy.

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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by roller62 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:51 pm

Thanks for the clarification on the TM hiker's campground. The NPS web site says they open in July so I'll keep an eye on it. We are taking a leisurely three days to get down to the valley and were planning on staying in the backpacker's camp in the valley when we get there before taking the bus back up the next day.

Ron in SD

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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by CAMERONM » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:24 pm

FYI you self-fill-out a small form at the campsite when camping in the BP camp. So you can show up any hour, and you only need some proof of an impending permit if later challenged, which is has never happened to me.

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Re: Newbie ? about camping areas before Tuolomne to Valley H

Post by wildhiker » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:19 am

Also, as I recall, the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker's campground is $5 per person per night that you put into your registration envelope in the "iron ranger". Bring exact change in cash. I've stayed there several times and have never even seen a ranger come by. The one time I stayed at the backpackers' campground in Yosemite Valley, there was a ranger onsite checking people's permits as they arrived in the afternoon.
-Phil

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