Summit Ranger District

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Places for Free Camping Near Yosemite National Park

Places for Free Camping Near Yosemite National Park


There are places just outside of Yosemite National Park that allow free camping. Camping inside the Park requires a reservation and fees. But there are plenty of free campgrounds just outside of Park boundaries. We have put together a list of places where we have camped ourselves and where many others frequently camp.

lumsden campground near yosemite national park
Lumsden Campground near Yosemite National Park

Places for Free Camping Near Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is completely surrounded by national forests. You can always boondock for free in these forests. However, there are also free campgrounds set up by the U.S. Forest Service…

Stanislaus National Forest

Located on the west side of Yosemite National Park, this is the most popular forest for folks looking for free camping close to the Park.

Hardin Flat Road – (Boondocking, 3 miles from Park Entrance) Located right off of Highway 120, this is a well-graded forest road (used to be paved) that leads to numerous other forest roads. You are permitted to camp off of Hardin Flat Road, or along any of the smaller forest roads that branch off of it. There are numerous sites that you can camp in for up to 14 days.

Lumsden Campground – (Free Campground, 25 miles from Park Entrance) The road into this campground is bumpy and narrow, and not suitable for RVs and trailers. You may be able to pull teardrop and pop-up trailers, provided you take it slow. It’s really meant for four-wheel drive vehicles. The campsites at Lumsden are small, mainly intended for tents, vans, and pickup-truck campers. Read more about Lumsden Campground.

South Fork Campground – (Free Campground, 26 miles from Park Entrance) This is just a mile further from Lumsden Campground along the same road. Again, not suitable for RVs and trailers, though you could pull a teardrop or pop-up trailer if you’re careful. The campsites here are also small, mainly intended for tents, vans, and pick-up truck campers. Read more about South Fork Campground.

Lumsden Bridge Campground – (Free Campground, 28 miles from Park Entrance) This is two further along from South Fork Campground along the same road. This is not suitable for RVs and trailers, though you could pull a teardrop or pop-up trailer if you’re careful. The campsites here are also small, mainly intended for tents, vans, and pick-up truck campers. Read more about Lumsden Bridge Campground.

Inyo National Forest

Located on the south-east side of Yosemite National Park. Access to the Park takes you through the town of Lee Vining and up Tioga Pass Road. You will have a longer drive into the Park, however you will also more free camping options and more availability.

Hartley Springs Campground – (Free Campground, 26 miles from Park Entrance) This is a free campground inside June Lake Loop. It can accommodate large sized RVs with about 25 campsites in all. It’s a very popular campground in summer. Read more about Hartley Springs Campground.

Glass Creek Campground – (Free Campground, 34 miles from Park Entrance) This is a free campground that can accommodate large RVs. There are 66 official campsites here, though it’s common to see people camped in other areas. Glass Creek is probably the most popular free campground in Inyo National Forest. Read more about Glass Creek Campground.

Owens River Road – (Boondocking, 35 miles from Park Entrance) Owens River Road has several smaller forest roads that branch off of it, offering dozens, perhaps up to a 100 boondocking sites. Many of these sites are large, able to accommodate any size of RV. Read more about Owens River Road.

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Located on the north-east side of Yosemite National Park. Camping here reaches the Park through the town of Lee Vining and up Tioga Pass Road.

Upper Virginia Creek Campground – (Free Campground, 31 miles from Park Entrance) This is a free campground located along twisty-windy road with about 15 sites. The campground is suitable for small to medium sized RVs and trailers. Anything larger than a 24 foot trailer will have trouble making the tight turns. Larger RVs are better suited for Lower Virginia Creek Campground. Read more about Upper Virginia Creek Campground.

Lower Virginia Creek Campground – (Free Campground, 30 miles from Park Entrance) This is a free campground located north-west of Lee Vining. This campground can accommodate large RVs with about 22 sites in all. Read more about Lower Virginia Creek Campground.

Sierra National Forest

Located on the southern portion of Yosemite National Park. This is heavily trafficked area due to crowds flocking up from Central and Southern California.

Mt. Raymond Road – (Boondocking, 1 mile from Park Entrance) This is the last forest road before you get to the Park Entrance. There is a snowmobile parking lot along this road which you can camp at, but you can also continue further to find more boondocking sites.

Nelder Grove Campground – (Free Campground, 14 miles from Park Entrance) This is the closest free campground to the Park Entrance, but is located deep within the forest. The road in is tight and bumpy. Best suited for vans, cars, and pickup truck campers only. Read more about Nelder Grove Campground.

2 thoughts on “Places for Free Camping Near Yosemite National Park”

  1. South fork and the other sites near it are no longer free. $23 a night.

    You know the difference between camping and being homeless? You have to pay for go camping.

    Reply
  2. I’m boondocking on the central coast of cali and was wondering if you knew any free/ inexpensive places to camp in that area thank you

    Reply

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