Added by Emily Schrick
While most people never venture outside of Yosemite Valley, Wawona is a great gem about 45 minutes south of the Valley, which offers a more secluded, quiet camping experience in a still beautiful location.
Wawona offers over 90 campsites in 3 loops, including 1 group site, 2 horse sites, and RV/ camper access. Every loop has at least 1 bathroom with flush toilets, but keep in mind that there are no showers at this campground. Pets are allowed, but must be kept on leash at all times.
Each campground contains a fire pit, bear-proof food locker, and picnic table. This campground doesn't offer the best privacy, as campsites are pretty close together, but is a much quieter spot than the campgrounds in Yosemite Valley and Hogdon Meadow. Of course, some sites are more spacious and private than others. If you have options, try for one closer to the river!
Wawona is a great option for both off season and summer camping. The Merced river is easily accessible from most campsites in all 3 loops, which can offer a nice reprieve from intense summer heat (but as always, respect nature and your limits. The current can be extremely strong and dangerous).
During the off season, only Loop A is available, and its first come, first served, self-registration only. Loops B & C open early to mid-April and stay open through September. For exact dates, contact the NPS. Since Yosemite is so popular, this campsite runs on reservations during the spring and summer. Reservations can be made beginning 5 months in advance, and is highly recommended. Do not expect walk-in space to be available, even on weekdays.
If you want to camp here during the off-season, you'll have a much easier time snagging a spot. You can call the NPS at (209) 372-5849 to check for campsite availability.
Outside of the campground, Wawona offers great Yosemite hiking! Check out Chilnualna Falls and Alder Creek for moderate-strenuous day hikes, or hop in the car and drive to the Big Trees Lodge (formerly, Wawona Hotel) for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (once you're sick of your camp food) and take a stroll along the Wawona Meadow Loop Trail, one of the few trails in the park where dogs are allowed! The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is currently closed for restoration until Spring 2017, but once it re-opens, it is a must-see in the Wawona area! If hiking isn't your thing, check out the Pioneer Yosemite History Center behind the Wawona general store & gas station.
There is plenty to do for people of all interests at Wawona, and is still accessible to the most popular Yosemite spots, including the Valley, Badger Pass, and Glacier Point Road.
LNT reminder: Yosemite NP is heavily trafficked every year, and unfortunately the wear and tear shows in many parts of the park. Do your part and Leave No Trace even though you're not in the backcountry.
For more information about the Wawona Campgrounds, visit the NPS website here.
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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