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“Benefits of backpacking but without the work, and with great food”

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Yosemite High Sierra Camps
Santa Cruz, CA
Level Contributor
131 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
“Benefits of backpacking but without the work, and with great food”
Reviewed 21 October 2013

You've read the other reviews, so I won't go into much detail on the basics. The food is great and plentiful. The tents are dry and the beds/ cots are pretty comfortable. Remember to bring along a VERY lightweight bag, or what I have, a sleeping bag insert / liner. The folks who tend the camps have always been really friendly. And you'll make new and interesting friends at meal time and around the campfire. This year, I just stayed at Glen Aulin, for $169 if I recall correctly. In past years, I've done other camps. Some have showers; some, like Glen Aulin, do not. And I've stayed in the nearby backpack camps. So here's the point of my review. You can do these hikes and see the same scenery by simply carrying your own tent, bag, food, utensils, toilet paper, and water filter, etc. And if you are in shape, like to sleep on the ground, on a budget, and everyone in your party feels the same way, backpacking is a great idea. But if some of the people in your party do NOT want to carry 30 pounds, sleep on the ground, find ways to keep the bears from your food, and poop in the woods, I'd recommend looking at the HSC. I've probably stayed at the HSCs 7 or 8 times, and I have never heard anyone say anything close to: "I'll never do this again", or "This is too expensive". Instead, I've seen how these camps bring together generations who otherwise would not have experienced the high sierra together. What's that worth to ya? And if you're a photographer, you can carry all the gear you want, instead of your backpacking gear. Lastly, if you don't make the lottery, you might be surprised how available the camps are on a last-minute basis. But if you have a large party, the lottery is the way to go.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
10 Thank Milocat007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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126 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (37)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
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English first
Chino Hills, California, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 October 2013

I recently did the 5-day ranger-guided hike to 3 of the high sierra camps: Sunrise, Merced Lake, and Vogelsang. The trails are quite a challenge, especially the first day (since I had not yet acclimated to the altitude). But they take you to such beautiful places, it is very much worth the effort. Ranger James has an amazing knowledge about all things Yosemite and was an excellent guide. The tent cabins, showers, and meals were such a luxury, especially compared to backpacking where you have to carry everything and get super dirty. The tents were clean, the beds were comfortable, the meals were amazing! The staff at each of the camps were excellent. The Merced Lake camp has a wash basin and clothesline so you can wash and hang clothes - very nice feature!

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
6 Thank Cindy A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hawthorne, Nevada
Level Contributor
71 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2013

Went to the Sunrise High Sierra Camp (having been twice previously to Glen Aulin). Dinner was a salad, Raviolis in canned tomatoes and garlic, and german Chocalate cake.

The salad was nothing special, the raviolis were bland - just like the tomatoes, and the german chocolate cake was hard to recognize as cake - it was more like pudding. The best thing about the meal was some broccoli that came with the ravioli.

Breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes. I'm guessing that children find such things amusing and tasty - but for adults this was bit overboard.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Shawn H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Travelating
Level Contributor
56 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 August 2013

The High Sierra Camps are a rustic but comfortable way to have a life-enhancing experience in the Yosemite Wilderness. Read what you can about the trekking and recognize that it can be exhausting, painful and dirty. If you can appreciate clean water from a spigot, a warm cot to rest your aching muscles, good and plentiful food to refuel your body, and the camaraderie of sharing a tent cabin with strangers who also worked very hard to get there and feel like they won the lottery (because they probably did), then you'll love this. You won't forget it, I promise.

People sometimes refer to the HSC loop as one of the highlights of their lives. The camps make this possible if you don't want to, or can't, haul a backpack and sleep on the ground after eating freeze-dried food. The camp staffs are endearingly enthusiastic about working there and the friendliest people you'll meet in a long time.

The camps are spaced a vigorous one-day hike between them, and they also give you the best of one of the world's most enchanting back-country experiences. There are ways to cut corners, such as walking 1.2 miles from a parking lot to May Lake HSC.

The camps allow you to have a true wilderness experience with basic comforts on your own. Do it if you can, but do your research too!

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
10 Thank Travelating
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lake Forest, Ca.
Level Contributor
23 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 August 2013

We just returned from our first experience with the High Sierra Camps. We'd return in a heartbeat. We actually won our spots in the lottery, but we heard that is a difficult thing to do. We stayed in Curry Village the first night, then took a bus to Tuolumne Meadows to start. Night one we stayed at the Vogelsang camp. So pretty. It's right next to a pretty lake. No showers here. But otherwise great. The food was amazing and the staff very helpful. Breakfast and dinner was included but we bought a sack lunch for the trail. Night two was Merced Lake. Another great camp. Day three we hiked back into the valley.

I didn't feel concerned about the sanitary conditions as other reviews commented on. They have well posted signs to wash your hands and hand sanitizers at each restroom stall. Not sure what else they could do about the mice and the Hantavirus. They had a sign in each tent. Mice could get in through the door jam, but we didn't see any or any droppings.

Overall, we loved it and will put in for the lottery every year.

Room Tip: Four beds per room. If you're in a group bigger or smaller they'll put you with other travel...
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank Jenn2181
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Simi Valley, California
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 July 2013

We just finished the Vogalsang, Merced Lake and Sunrise portion of the High Sierra Camp Loop in Yosemite with our 10 year old daughter and it was fabulous. When I was in my 20's I used to back-pack but thought I had to give it up due to back problems with herniated disks, but this option allowed me to once again experience the backcountry. Because meals and tent cabins with cots and wool blankets are provided, I really only needed water and clothes so I did the 29 miles with water bottles in a fanny-pack and my husband carried my change of clothes/shoes. Although we hike a lot in the National Parks I was concerned about such a long hike with my daughter. She did great and enjoyed the experience. We happened to spend 3 nights at Merced Lake which was a good idea because it allowed us to explore the area and swim in the swimming hole near the camp, which was my daughter's favorite part. There is a natural rock slope to the river that leads to the swimming hole and she could kind of slide into it. If we had to do over I would bring a little inflatable to make the "slide" a little more fun. The food was incredible - homemade soup, fresh salad, entrée and dessert each night for dinner. Better than food anywhere else in the park. Staff were helpful, especially at Merced where Mike the Camp Manager gave interesting talks about the history of the area, animals and plants each night after dinner.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
9 Thank PepeLePugh3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
Level Contributor
46 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 January 2013

These camps are the best experience you can have in the High Sierra's. Each of the 5 camps are a 1-day hike apart and each have different views and amenities. Common among them is the traditional canvas tent cabin which will will likely share with others. There is also a rustic kitchen which serves fabulous dinners and breakfasts. There are no phones, no electricity, no roads ... all supplies are brought in by mules.

The person who rated these a "1" ("Dirty, unhealthy conditions”) must have been expecting the Awahnee at 10,000 feet! Pay no attention to that review. Obviously there is going to be dirt in the wilderness where there no vacuum cleaners and water is precious.

If you love the outdoors and unmatched views, stimulating smells of the forest and fresh air this is the place for you. To make reservations you need to enter a lottery in November of the year prior to the time you want to visit. You'll hear back in January and the probability of getting an extended hike is low - they are THAT popular!

  • Stayed July 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
15 Thank Traveler-396
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Yosemite High Sierra Camps

Property: Yosemite High Sierra Camps
Address: Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA
Region: United States > California > Yosemite National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 24 Speciality Lodging in Yosemite National Park
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Yosemite High Sierra Camps have been a popular destination in Yosemite National Park since they were first established. Because of the demand, we’ve created a lottery system for reservations. Applications are accepted in September and October for the following year. We email winners in the spring. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Yosemite High Sierra Camps Hotel Yosemite National Park

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