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Old 12-23-2008, 01:06 AM   #1
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Airstreaming in Yosemite

Im looking for advice on a trip to Yosemite in terms of where to camp and best time of year. Are there trailer spots in the valley? Also, is there a preferred route into the park- I remember narrow, twisty roads from past visits. I will be coming up from LA with a 25' International.
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Old 12-23-2008, 01:31 AM   #2
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Jot,

We camped in the valley at the Upper Pines campground in May. The weather was perfect-not too hot during the day and not too cold in the evenings.

There were a variety of spots. Most were NOT pull throughs. We had to back in our 25' Trade Wind late at night without the benefit of street lamps. It was a very tight fit-we barely fit with our truck still hooked up to the trailer. There were no hook ups but we saw several folks with generators. Plan on boondocking. Reservations can be challenging to obtain but are worth the effort. Yosemite is beautiful!

While there, bears came down to the camp every evening. (We were awoken by campers yelling, "Bear! Bear!" in the middle of the night!) Gemma's brother and sister-in-law and their two young kids camped in a tent-we don't know how they did it. We were so happy to be sleeping in our aluminum, bear resistant bubble "tent".

We hope you have a great time!
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Old 12-23-2008, 02:40 AM   #3
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Did you keep your food in the trailer during the evening or lock it up in the bear proof food locker that comes with each campsite? I have only tent camped in Yosemite, and we used the food lockers each night. Just wondering as I am planning at least one Yosemite trip this coming year with my trailer.
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Old 12-23-2008, 07:29 AM   #4
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We were there in September and stayed at the Upper Pines. It was a challenge to find a site that could accommodate our 34 footer, but a 25' should be much easier to maneuver and back in around the trees in the camping circles.
We were awakened at 0300, not by bears but by Rangers directing us to put our empty but visible coolers in the steel food box, seems the bears didn't know they are empty and will make an effort to see whats inside. We didn't put the food from the refrigerator in the box but we did empty all the stuff from the TV.
We arrived and departed from the East through the Tioga pass, long uphill, but not a problem for the diesel, leaving, even with the auto down shift and braking on the Allison, the brakes took a beating, nothing over 40mph, but I should have cooled them off sooner at one of the pull offs.
The road from Mariposa (120?) had length restrictions due to a rock slide and reroute across some temporary bridges. I wouldn't attempt to take a trailer through there. SR41 is probably your best bet
The park is incredible, great hiking and views and very relaxing, we really enjoyed stopping a Wawona (Historic Hotel and pioneer village on the way to the Sequoias) and going up to the viewpoint across from Half Dome
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Old 12-23-2008, 07:44 AM   #5
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How much ahead of time do you need to make reservations for a site during the summer?
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Old 12-23-2008, 08:41 AM   #6
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Given past experience with the NPS. During the high season (mid summer) it probably would be a good idea to call the park and ask when the earliest date they are accepting reservations, and then call on that date.
We called in February for our last visit to Yellowstone in the summer, off peak isn't nearly so bad, but don't procrastinate as there were only a couple of sites open overnite during our trip in Sept. (We took evening walks through the campsites scouting for other intrepid Airstreamers) didn't see any though.
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Old 12-23-2008, 09:47 AM   #7
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How much ahead of time do you need to make reservations for a site during the summer?
I was just talking to my brother about this, he goes almost every year.
He said that the reservations open up at 0700 on the 15th of the month, six months prior to the date you want.
The popular sites for peak season fill within minutes.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:05 AM   #8
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I was just talking to my brother about this, he goes almost every year.
He said that the reservations open up at 0700 on the 15th of the month, six months prior to the date you want.
The popular sites for peak season fill within minutes.

It is difficult to get summer reservations. The more people you have to man the phones the better. One year we started calling about 6:55 am, 7 phones going non-stop didn't get through. So we will try again this year, it is worth it. Good Luck!!
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:10 AM   #9
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One thing that I forgot to add - The NPS used to accept mail-in reservations. They could be sent in prior to the phone-in time which gave the mail-in folks a huge advantage.
I understand that as of a couple of years ago, they no longer accept mail-ins which has made it much easier/fairer for everyone to get a reservation by phone or online.
Dave
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:30 AM   #10
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Did you keep your food in the trailer during the evening or lock it up in the bear proof food locker that comes with each campsite? I have only tent camped in Yosemite, and we used the food lockers each night. Just wondering as I am planning at least one Yosemite trip this coming year with my trailer.
We kept food in the Airstream and there wasn't a problem. The rangers are rather vigilant about campers using the steel food lockers and will fine campers that leave food out, even during the day.

On another note, we approached Yosemite from the Modesto area. It was relatively easy with just one pass (less than five miles from what we recall) that had some twists, turns and switchbacks-nothing white knuckle inducing.

If you get through the phones to make a reservation, you may reserve two camp sites. And yes, we were dialing our fingers off right at 7:00am on the 15th!

Good luck!
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Old 12-23-2008, 01:42 PM   #11
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Hi Jot,
Check out the threads on Yosemite on the bottom of this page. Lots of good info.
After getting much helpful forums advice, we went on the first of Nov. last year and stayed at Upper Pines, the only campground open in the fall and winter. In 07 they didn't take res. after Nov.1st, so we took our chances, going up midweek. It was practically deserted and we had our choice of sites. This year, they started taking reservation for the month of Nov., but we made ours online 2 weeks before leaving (1st week of Nov.) and still had many good choices. In fact we were even able to change sites after we got there.

The beauty of going at that time of year--esp. mid-week--is that the Valley is virtually deserted and the air is amazing. We took our bikes and cruised the bike trails all around the valley loop and were often the only ones around.
The caveat is that it can be COLD. And it's boondocking, so your battery and heater are precious commodities. We got a catalytic heater this year and it's my new best friend.

We were careful with the generator (it's so quiet under those trees) but we did use it every day.
Like Gemma says, as long as you clear everything out of your TV, you shouldn't have a problem with bears. We locked our bbq in the bear locker and a few other odds and ends.

As far as the approach goes, we like going up 41 and coming in through Wawona and Tunnel View. It's an easy drive and so spectacular. There are 2 parking areas right after the tunnel so you can stop and awe before you descend into the valley. We've also gone in on 120--a pretty drive that lost it's charm for me at Priest Grade.
Another option is to come up 395 to 120 and come in over Tioga Pass (closed in winter.)
140 (El Portal entrance) isn't usable for us anymore since the slids and detour.

We've been to Yosemite at almost every time of the year, and all are wonderful. I would never go in the summer again (crowds), but the spring is gorgeous with all the waterfalls and blooming dogwood.
Have fun!
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