*Disclaimer: Told from the perspective of a full-blown city slicker!
Getting a traditional campground reservation can be really, really tough. Plan your trip 6-8 months in advance and pinpoint which days work well for your group. Scope out which camp areas you are most interested in and make your list of “Top 5” camping areas. This will help to speed up the reservation process in case you have to fall back on plan B, C, D, and so on. Log onto Yosemite’s reservation site to see their timetable of when you will be able to make a reservation. Be prepared to make some speedy decisions! These spots fill up so fast, you’d be amazed. For tricky requests, you can always call in and they’ll help you out. I made my reservation a little over 4 months before our trip, and I snatched up one of the last spots in Hodgdon Meadows since the valley sites were already filled up.
Note: First timers should definitely try to camp in Yosemite Valley. Hodgdon Meadows is a 30-minute drive away, but a great campground too.
**I ended up practically living in my exercise clothes, so the items in bold were the things I actually used.
– Pair of jeans
– Fleece zip up
– Lightweight insulation jacket
– T-shirts (2)
– Long sleeve shirt (2)
– Khaki shorts
– Mid-ankle exercise pant
– Cotton shorts
– Exercise skort
– Tank top (3)
– Head lamp
– Small lantern
– Copious amounts of bug spray
I prepared fully cooked foil packet food which were portioned down into small servings. We kept packets of chilled BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, and other vegetables in the cooler. This made the experience so much better because we would build a fire and throw the packets over the grill whenever anyone got hungry. This meant we didn’t necessarily have to eat at the same time, and you could have a piece of whatever you wanted. If I crushed it in any department during this trip… it was this. The foil packets were my pride and joy.
This was the only campsite that could accommodate our plans, so I snatched it up immediately. I was disappointed since we weren’t going to be camping in the valley, but I came to realize the site definitely has its perks. Porque? SPACE. Hodgdon Meadows campgrounds are considerably larger than sites in the valley. We had plenty of room to set up our extra tables and large tarp near the tents. True to its name, the Hodgdon Meadow is just a short walk away and makes for a wonderful stargazing location. There are a few hikes in the area, but be aware that you will need to drive/bus into the valley to see the majority of Yosemite’s attractions. This arrangement worked well with our group– but be sure to double check with yours before you book.
We drove about 8 miles to the trail head from the Hodgdon Meadows campground. The grove is a 2.5 mile round trip hike through jaw-dropping massive sequoia trees. There is a gradual gradation to it and most of the trail is well paved. Be sure to check out the tree trunk diagram that depicts examples of how old a tree might be depending on it’s size. I think there are definitely some Roman-era sequoias in this grove. It was the perfect mid-morning activity that lasted a little over two hours.
Lower Fall Trail (in the Valley)
I’m not sure if this should even be called a trail. Let’s be honest, it’s more of a paved one mile walk to the ultra-cool lower falls up close. During the summer, water levels can be low so you’ll see gaggles of people clambering over the rocks to get close to the waterfall. We had a blast doing exactly that! Be warned, the pool at the base of the waterfall is frigid.
Update: In my inspirational excitement, I went to REI’s garage sale event and snagged myself a pair of slightly used hiking boots for 90% off. Now I’m a pair of shoes closer to backpacking… Woohoo!!