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  1. #1
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    Yosemite Dirtbag/Car Camping?

    So on my way back to Oregon I'm swinging by Yosemite to spend a day (or two?) poking around. I'm looking for somewhere (hopefully free - all the paid camp grounds look full, anyway) to either car camp or pitch a small tent, two nights. There looks to be a lot of info on goggle, but I want to distill down my options. East or west side of the park? Would pulling off on any random dirt road do? Or should I look in a specific area. Or could I just drive into a camp ground, pretend like I'm suppose to be there, and park off to the side and sleep in the car - and hope no one notices/cares? Any info/ideas would be great.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralboy15 View Post
    So on my way back to Oregon I'm swinging by Yosemite to spend a day (or two?) poking around. I'm looking for somewhere (hopefully free - all the paid camp grounds look full, anyway) to either car camp or pitch a small tent, two nights. There looks to be a lot of info on goggle, but I want to distill down my options. East or west side of the park? Would pulling off on any random dirt road do? Or should I look in a specific area. Or could I just drive into a camp ground, pretend like I'm suppose to be there, and park off to the side and sleep in the car - and hope no one notices/cares? Any info/ideas would be great.
    In the park it's pretty difficult unless you're among the inducted few true dirtbags. Outside it's not hard, but you're a decent ways away to get to anywhere that won't be completely obvious and likely on private land. Best luck Ive had is on the east side. It's easy near mammoth, and gets harder the closer you get to the park. A better option is to go backpacking for a night or two. Figure out where the openings are, get a permit and a bear canister and leave all the cheeto crunching motor home land whales to their own devices. The park road is cool to drive, but not nearly as cool as everything else in the BC.

  3. #3
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    I used to camp just outside the park on the West side off hwy 140, just outside of El Portal. There are a few state forest campgrounds (or national forest? Not sure which) a few miles shy of the park boundary, right on the Merced River. It's been a few years, but I was always able to find a spot there. I think there were first come first serve. You can see the on the linked map, just West of El Portal on Hwy 140.

    http://www.nps.gov/common/commonspot...kname=Yosemite

    Edited to add that I can't find either on the National Forest campground list, maybe there were private campgrounds, I can't remember. Just tent type sites though, right on the river.

  4. #4
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    If you are going to sleep in your car,and can be completely stealth,its better not to be in the campgrounds inside the park unless you arrive really late and leave early.Rangers in yosemite are basically just cops now.
    picador

  5. #5
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    there is a place just outside the westside of the park on 120 but the name escapes me right now since i have been inhaling anesthesia all week.

  6. #6
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    When are you planning this? Which direction are you coming from?

    If this weekend, camping outside the gate on 140 will suck. Like 105 degrees suck. The valley will be close to 100. Staying on the T Meadows side of the park will be best.

    If you're coming from the east side, camp on Lee Vining creek. There are 3-5 campgrounds there and there's always space. Beautiful spots too. You could then head up the pass and be in the park in 20 minutes.

  7. #7
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    ^^What he said^^

    there's a spot just before Saddlebag Lake Road you can crash at

    Junction, Ellery, and Saddlebag Lake CG's are all good - better than those further down the hill

  8. #8
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    Or if you're going later in the year (cooler temps), and want to stay in the valley, I think Sunnyside (Camp 4) is still walk-in, first-come, first-serve. It's the climbers' campground.

    You really can't get away with sleeping in your car in Yosemite, without being in/at a campground.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  9. #9
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    I guess I should have specified dates and such. I'm coming in this Sunday night, poking around Monday, then heading out early Tuesday morning (or possibly heading up to shasta Monday night). Coming in from the east side.

    These are great suggestions, I'll start looking into them, maybe I'll just list them out in the order that I'll pass them coming in and try my luck when I get there? Unless I can figure some online reservations out for whatever sites. Keep em' coming!

  10. #10
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    you can usually get sites at the places I mentioned on Sunday/Monday w/o reservations

    also, June Lake area

    free camping along 395 between Mammoth and Tioga Pass

    eat at the Mobile Mart (Whoa Nellie Deli) on 120 just east of Lee Vining

    you can usually bivy in the trailhead parking lots along Saddlebag Lake Road w/o any worries

  11. #11
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    you can also stay at my house in Twain Harte - about 1.5 hours from Yosemite Valley

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by telemike View Post
    you can usually bivy in the trailhead parking lots along Saddlebag Lake Road w/o any worries
    Was also thinking this. And thanks for the house offer.

  13. #13
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    Saddlebag lake camp is about 10000 ft so lots cooler,and used to no reservations,so FCFS
    picador

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralboy15 View Post
    Was also thinking this. And thanks for the house offer.
    Saddlebag is probably your best, closest bet near the pass.

    Persied meteor showers peak on 11th and 12th. Moon is good.

    Royal Robbins is speaking at Pinecrest Lake (up Hwy 108 east of Sonora) amphitheater Monday night.

  15. #15
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    Big Bend campground in Lee Vining canyon is an option as well

    conness just a few days ago


    conness by chadbro, on Flickr

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by telemike View Post

    you can usually bivy in the trailhead parking lots along Saddlebag Lake Road w/o any worries
    Did this, two nights in a row. No hassles. First night had a lot of other cars, second night had no cars. Easy to find. Comfortable temps. Your BETA was invaluable.

    Quote Originally Posted by jon gaper View Post
    .Rangers in yosemite are basically just cops now.
    Yup, got pulled over for doing ten over on the way back to camp after a very long day. I guess they can give speeding tickets? Dude let me off though, he was actually pretty nice about the whole thing.

  17. #17
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    Glad it worked out for you

  18. #18
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    any winter tips?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pow_pow~ View Post
    any winter tips?
    You shouldn't have any problems getting a site that time of year. If you are car camping I would try to get a site at the pines campground. They are normally booked by reservations only, but the park goes through the cancellations and no-shows every morning and gives them away on a first come first serve basis to drop-in visitors. There used to be a small building in the back corner of the Curry Village parking lot (commonly referred to as "the apple orchard") where they gave away cancellations. It's been a few seasons since I lived there though, so maybe someone can confirm it's still there.

    If you're tent camping... Camp 4 should be wide open. Upside is you can stay in camp 4 for 30 days that time of year, and if it gets cold at night theres the Camp 4 bathroom floor.

    Hopefully that helps. If you need more info, feel free to shoot me a message.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by g_howland View Post

    Hopefully that helps. If you need more info, feel free to shoot me a message.
    Thanks for that mate appreciate it, ill be in a van and only staying for a day or two, pretty limited on time unfortunately.

  21. #21
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    Plan to enter from the west as the east entrance is likely (will) be closed.

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