“The experience is phenomenal" – after five years, Yosemite's glamping sites finally reopen


After five years of closure due first to the pandemic and then to snowpack conditions, three of Yosemite's glamping sites are reopening, marking a golden opportunity for those who want to backpack in one of the world's most beautiful parks without carrying gear.

If you've always dreamed of exploring Yosemite National Park's mountains but aren't willing or able to carry kit like your tent or camping stove, the High Sierra Camps offer you the perfect balance of wilderness and luxury. You can enter a lottery now for the chance to experience the glamping sites, which include sleeping in a permanent tent structure or cabin, from June to September.

Lucky entrants will be able to camp either at Glen Aulin, at an elevation of 7,800 feet above sea level nestled next to a magnificent waterfall on the Tuolumne River, on the shores of pristine May Lake, or next to an alpine meadow at Sunrise Camp, which reputedly has the best dawns in the West at 9,400 feet.

Yosemite Falls reflected in the Merced River
Yosemite Falls reflected in the Merced River

You can reach these three camps on foot or by mule, and during the day, you can set off on a day hike carrying only a small daypack. When you return from your hike, scrub up with a hot shower and enjoy a gourmet meal.

“The experience is phenomenal,” says Jane Simpson, chair of the leadership training program at the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club in an interview with the LA Times. Though the practice of creating semi-permanent structures in the wilderness has raised a few eyebrows in the environmental community, she says that those who make the journey tend to be well-practiced in the principles of Leave No Trace.

“The people are very hyper aware of their impact.”

Two other sites, Vogelsang and Merced Lake, will remain closed throughout the 2024 season with no explanation given as to why.

The ability to leave behind bulky camping gear makes camping in Yosemite's wilderness accessible to those for whom it otherwise might not be, such as elderly hikers. That said, you'll still need to bring some overnight kit, such as your sleeping bag, headlamp and camping towel in addition to all your hiking gear.

If you forget any essentials, like your water bottle or toothbrush, you'll be able to stock up at the Camp Store. And don't worry – even though you might be sharing the wilderness with a few bears, bear lockers are provided to keep everyone safe.