We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Camping east, visiting the west

Indian Harbour...
Level Contributor
337 posts
56 reviews
Save Topic
Camping east, visiting the west

Planning a 2014 trip out west that includes Yosemite. Were towing a 15' travel trailer from Florida. Our plans as of now have us leaving Zion on June 24th around noon, then staying the night somewhere. We plan to arrive in Yosemite on the 25th, sometime late moring or early afternoon and set up camp. Then we will be there the 26th, 27th and 28th, pulling out the morning of the 29th to head to the Grand Tetons. I wanted to stay at the Tuolumne Meadows campground but just read that it doesn't open until July 11th. So, instead I'm looking into staying at the Silver Lake Campground. I understand its at least a 2 hour drive to the valley from there. We plan on speding 2 full days seeing the valley and then the last day relaxing over on the east side of the park. Couple questiolns.... Anyone ever based their trip from the east side? Also, is the Tuolumne Meadows date just an estimate and could the campground open earlier? The reason I would like to stay on the east side is I wouldn't have to drag my camper over the Tioga when we leave for the Tetons. Also, its a quicker drive to the east side from Zion than going arund to the west. I'd rather run a few extra miles w/o my camper seeing things than drag it through those mountains. The morning we leave for the Tetons will be early and it would require I drive it in the dark. Any suggestions?

Lake Tahoe...
Level Contributor
9,264 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

You may not find Tioga Pass open yet (the pass is near 10,000 feet. Tuolumne Meadows is just west of the pass and would be a poor choice if you wanted to visit Zion and/or Grand Teton w/o driving over the pass

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
60,920 posts
115 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

I'd be very surprised if Tioga Pass was still closed in late June. The median date is May 23. Until the snow falls and then spring arrives, we won't even have a guess as to how easy the road is to clear.

Tuolumne Meadows Campground tries to open some of its campsites early, but again that's snow-dependent. The ground needs to be firm enough to drive on and the water low enough to be dried up near the streams.

It's two hours to get to Yosemite Valley from Lee Vining. I don't know where your campground is, but expect to spend a long time on the road. And watch for tourists doing crazy things. One time someone stopped their rental RV on the road, parked (yes, ON the road), and got out to play in the snow.

If this were my trip, I'd try to get a campsite in Yosemite Valley or nearby (Crane Flat, for example.) Yes, you'd have to drive over Tioga Pass twice with the trailer, but you'd be closer to the place you actually want to visit.

Have you read the Trip Reports in the Top Questions?

=============

Here is the data for past opening dates. nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/seasonal.htm Compare the opening dates to the snowpack; you can see why Tuolumne Meadows campground opened late in 2011! 178% is a lot of snow.

Indian Harbour...
Level Contributor
337 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

I understand you point. Curently our plan is to stay in the Silver Lake campground. (spectacular view) Unless Tuolumne opens, then we will attempt to get a site there. I wanted to spend an entire day on the Tioga, Tuolumne hiking and mono lake so I am looking at it this way. I will drive from the valley to see that area. So, why dont I just drive to the valley from the east and then I dont have to drag my camper over the Tioga twice. The only thing is it would cost me one more trip across the tioga w/o my camper. It also would save many hours driving from my prior destination and to my futire destination. Its a tough decision and I appreciate the feedback.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
60,920 posts
115 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

Expect snow and/or slush and mosquitoes when hiking in Tuolumne Meadows in June.

Spending one day in Yosemite Valley could be just fine. Get there early.

Indian Harbour...
Level Contributor
337 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

Well here's my plan. Let me know if its doable. Day one leave at 6am and drive to Mariposa Grove (arrive 9am) and sightsee. Stop at Glacier Point on the way back and arrive in camp by 9pm. Day 2 leave at 6am and drive to Valley (arrive 8am) sightsee the Valley and return by 9pm, sunsets at 9pm so the drive would be in daylight. Day 3 easier day see Tuolumne meadows and Mono Lake area and maybe take in short hike. That would give me about 10-11 hours of time to see stuff on both days. Thanks for the heads up on the mosquitos.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
60,920 posts
115 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

Sounds okay. The tiny parking lot at Mariposa Grove might already be full by 9 am in late June. But I'd bypass the parking area in Wawona and drive directly to Mariposa Grove anyway. Sometimes that sign is up early in the day. Be sure to look for bright red snowplant on the trails.

Mariposa Grove tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-d592681

Take picnic foods with you as there are few places to eat on this day.

Indian Harbour...
Level Contributor
337 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

Will do, Thanks for the insight. One of our missions while we drive is to scout out nice picnic areas to hit for lunch and on the way back to camp.

Midpines, California
2 posts
1 review
Save Reply
8. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

there are some very nice campgrounds located beside tioga pass on the east-side.these sit next to the river that feeds mono lake.these are at the bottom of the pass.great fishing too.only a 15 minute drive approx. to mono/HWY395 juction.this is just what your looking for.no need to haul your trailer up tioga pass,close to mono lake,already on tioga ready to hit the park.i also recomend timing your return trip from the valley floor to put you on the return over tioga at sunset the views to the west are incredable

Indian Harbour...
Level Contributor
337 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

Thanks halfdome, do you know the names of the campgrounds you speak of? If we can get a little closer that would be great! I will definitly plan one evening on the pass at sunset, Thanks for the tip!

Edited: 02 December 2013, 19:12
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
60,920 posts
115 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Camping east, visiting the west

There are two or three picnic tables on the road between the South Entrance and Mariposa Grove, but that "picnic area" is exactly on the road and not scenic.

There is a picnic area between Wawona and the Wawona Campground. View: http://goo.gl/maps/YEgst It's on the river and has an outhouse.

There are picnic tables past the Wawona Store near the Pioneer History Center's "Grey Barn" and the South Fork of the Merced River. View: http://goo.gl/maps/1UfIV Swing the view around to see more tables next to the parking lot.

Carrying a sack lunch up to Lower Chilnualna Fall or up to Swinging Bridge in Wawona might be nice. Wawona info: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c196037/Yosemi…