Getaways, Yosemite

Yosemite~A Nature Lover’s Paradise 🐻

No Reservations~ Camping Yosemite in July

Last week when Frank and I decided to go to Yosemite on a whim, these were the responses we received.

My kids~”Your camping?”

Our friends~ “Do you have reservations?”

Well, yes we camped and no reservations. This is the exact details of the good, bad, and the ugly.

Kona loves a road trip and will wait in the car for hours.

We had the car all ready to go, I made some great breakfast sammy’s (mine with Keto bread, here is the recipe). I had the ice chest all ready and just put everything together that was going in it on one shelf with a note reminding me what to take. In containers we saved from Frank’s cranberry juice, we froze water in 2 big ones. This actually still had ice when we got home on Tuesday at 4:00 pm. I had a zillion lists of things we would need. With the car all packed, we got Kona all loaded up. She knows the road trip signs and gets super excited too. Leaving the house by 3:30 and stopping only 1 time for gas and coffee at Jamestown, we were at the entrance to the park by 7a.m. No cars, no traffic, and no one at the gate. Driving on up to Tuolumne Meadows Campground. There was a sign posted with all of the campgrounds and their availability.

Space Available?

We woke up at 2:30 on Sunday morning. Well actually I woke up at 1:30 because I was so excited. I mean, I have always wanted to go to Yosemite! Who just packs up their car and goes without reservations?

Arriving there before 8:30, we got in line at the park entrance to get a camp spot. There were about 10 people in front of us, some had been there since 6am. With no problem getting a spot to camp, once the park ranger knew we did not care to be by the river, picking our own spot was easy. Opting for a back location so Kona would not spaz out to swim in the river all the time. The G loop, G6 to be exact, is where we set up camp. I have to say, after driving through the entire campground several times, there is no location I would have rather had than this loop. G7 may have been a little better camp spot as the parking was closer, but our spot sat above all of the others and was so secluded. Heaven.

Kona utilized her time resting whenever possible.

What a lot of people do not know is this. Yosemite holds back half of the camping spots in the park for first come first serve. If you get there early enough, you are almost sure to find a spot to camp. When we got back that night, there were plenty of vacant camping places still. Getting the car unloaded, the tent set up, the foods and cosmetics put in a bear locker, we were all set up by 11:00 a.m., and out to venture around the area. Choosing to explore around this part of the park and letting Kona swim for a while.

Swim Swim Swim

We ended up going just a few miles to the exit out of the park to Lake Tioga and had a picnic on a huge rock that sat overlooking such beauty. Kona swam and swam and swam. She made so many friends because she is like a small child in the water. It is so funny to see how people just stop to watch her play. Leaving Lake Tioga, we took another road to Saddlebag Lake. There were green meadows full of wild flowers with creeks going through them, trails, waterfalls, and rocks everywhere! I mean, this was the most spectacular place I have ever been. Everyone knows how much I love the rocks…

Everyone Loves a good Rock
Lake Tioga

Heading back to our little camping oasis around 4 or 5, we built a fire, (quick tip, pick up firewood everywhere you go instead of buying it.) It helps keep the forest floors cleaned up. Hanging out at the campground the rest of the night, playing cards, eating hamburgers, drinking some Pinot noir from Buena Vista Winery, eating s’mores, and just sitting by the camp fire for hours. This is camping. Going to bed early, laying in the tent and looking up at the huge pine trees and the stars was just amazing.

Day two- waking super early as we tend to do, we got up and made our pour over coffees. I had pre mixed some scrambled eggs with ham in a jar that I shook up and cooked over the campfire in the cast iron pan. Oh man! Who knew eggs would be so good? Especially when eaten out of a coffee filter because I forgot one thing! ONE THING. The paper plates. Haha! Oh well, there is always some way to eat, right? We chose our coffee filters.

Getting everything all cleaned up and put back in the bear locker.

We were out to explore the valley floor. I am not going to lie, the sights were spectacular, El Capitan, Half Dome, and all of the falls. I loved the majestic beauty, but was definitely not a fan of the crowds of people. We spent several hours touring the park, taking in the sights, collecting more firewood, and absorbing the beauty, then decided to head back to high country where it was a lot more calm.

Did I mention the Rocks?

Went back to Lake Tioga for a Kona swim and a late picnic. Several hours of swimming later, back to the campground for a similar routine as the night before. This night we shared a beautiful cabernet by Crocker and Starr in Napa. It was the perfect s’more wine.

Poor Kona could hardly keep her head up. All in all- we had a great time! I wish we had stayed longer.

Tips:

Sad but true, all Red Bear signs are where a bear was killed by a car.
  1. Paws on the pavement– Dogs are only allowed in paved paths and areas in the park itself. We had no problem outside the park and respected the rules inside the park.
  2. Speeding kills– The red bear signs all over the park have been put up where a bear was killed by a car. I counted at least 6-7 of these signs. It broke my heart. Clearly more bears are killed by humans that humans killed by bears 🐻
  3. Tuolumne Meadows– is right on the PCT trail. On any given day you will see hikers at the store collecting their mail and replenishing their supplies. It is super interesting.
  4. Getting a camping ⛺️ spot– is fairly easy as long as you know the game.
  5. Off the grid– there is absolutely no 📞 service for hours all around the park. It was heaven.
  6. Seniors Rule– 👴🏼 did you know if you are over 62 it is only $20 to get a week pass?
  7. Pick up 🔥 firewood while exploring. It keeps the forest floors picked up and it’s $10 a box to buy.
  8. Don’t forget -the plates…. 🍽

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