Camping is something I love to do but it’s one of those things that can sometimes feel intimidating to plan—especially if you don’t own all the gear necessary to make it happen. For a while now I’ve been craving a good camping trip, so a couple weeks ago when I threw out the idea of doing one over Memorial Day weekend to one of my best friends and she was all for it, I was super excited!
Before I knew it, Kelly and her husband Nolan were researching campsites, talking s’mores and board games, and we were making it happen. I have to take a second to brag on them real quick—because I truly don’t know what I did to deserve friends like them. They are always there for their people, they love selflessly, they are the best listeners, biggest encouragers, wisest advice-givers, the most fun to beat at board games (), and a complete blast to spend time with. A weekend with them in the wilderness was just what I was needing!
Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite places. I grew up taking camping trips there with my family, I hit it up for spring break a couple times in college, and it holds so many fun memories for me. In this post, I’m sharing a photo journal from this past weekend (Kelly and Nolan are both amazing photographers, so these photos are a real treat), plus some Yosemite travel tips I’ve gleaned over the years. Enjoy!
As far as campsites go, there are two main options: reserve ahead of time, or show up early and hedge your bets with the first come, first serve sites. If you want to reserve a campsite, you have to do it up to six months in advance, which is a great option if you’re able to plan ahead. But if you’re looking to do a spontaneous last minute trip, I’ve never had a problem getting a first come, first serve one either. I will say though, that if you’re going on a busy holiday weekend, it’s a good idea to look outside of Yosemite Valley for a campsite, because it gets pretty packed in there. There are a lot of great options on the outskirts of Yosemite like Tuolumne Meadows, or Nelder Grove (below)—which is where we stayed this time.
Is there any better reading spot than a hammock strung up in the middle of the woods? I brought Hannah Brencher’s new book Come Matter Here to read on this trip and devoured it! It’s perfect for anyone going through a transition of any kind.
Yosemite Valley does have a village grocery store, but it is a bit expensive so if you’re able, it’s best to grab a cooler and hit up the grocery store to grab all the essentials before heading into the park. Popular camping foods include hot dogs, pasta, tacos, potatoes, eggs—and you can’t forget the marshmallows for roasting! There are a couple places to grab meals in Yosemite too, but half the fun of camping is getting to cook together on a propane stove or open fire and wash pots and pans in the river when you’re done. Everything seems to taste better when you’re camping, probably because of the extra work you have to put into it. Below are some of the meals we enjoyed over the weekend—let’s taco ‘bout those s’mores!
Though we didn’t do a ton of hiking on this trip, Yosemite is known for its hikes and it’s home to some of my all-time favorite trails! If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, I recommend the Upper Yosemite Falls trail—there’s a lot of switchbacks but you can’t beat the view. There’s also Half Dome which I haven’t personally done yet, but Yosemite is famous for it! Keep in mind it requires a permit though—so be sure to grab one in advance. If you’re looking for something a bit more mild, Bridal Veil Falls is a classic you can pretty much walk up to. Or if you’re looking for something somewhere in between, Vernal Falls, aka “The Mist Trail” is a great option—and it also leads up to Nevada Falls if you want to keep going (this one is another personal favorite).
Another fun idea if you’re staying in the valley is to grab your sleeping bag in the middle of the night and head out to the meadow to lay down and gaze up at the stars—it’s absolutely breathtaking. Also be sure to stop for photos at the Yosemite Tunnel View Point (below) when you drive in—you can’t beat this view!
Glacier Point (below) is another beautiful view point you can both drive and hike up to.
Temperatures in Yosemite obviously depend on what time of year you go, but it always gets pretty cold at night. It’s best to pack in layers. Bring some shorts, long and short leggings plus sweats to pull on at night—and the whole gamut of tank tops, long sleeves, and sweatshirts. It’s also not a bad idea to bring a rain jacket, and be sure to bring plenty of pairs of extra socks, including wool socks if you have them. If you have hiking boots bring those, otherwise running shoes will do (depending on the hikes you choose). Also—and I say this because I once came away from a camping trip at Yosemite with 53 bug bites—BRING YOUR BUG SPRAY!
Making a camping trip happen can be a lot of work, but it’s always worth it. This weekend was full of best friends, belly laughs, and beautiful scenery—and I’m so thankful for the camera roll full of memories we made!
Moral of the story: #YOLOsemite is always a good idea. I hope this post helps you plan your next trip!
P.S. Nolan made a super cool highlight video from our trip—watch it below!
Hello I’m Kaci!
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Such beautiful photos! Sounds like a wonderful weekend.
It was such a great time – and thank you!
FYI, washing dishes in the river is a big “no no” in Yosemite. Dishwater is considered “gray water” here’s an informative link on park regulations https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/lnt.htm