My wife and I decided to hike Half Dome back in January, so we got permits for the back country, which you can read about in my post about back country permits. Because of how we were feeling and scheduling issues, we decided to stay in Yosemite Valley and explore other activities and smaller hikes a couple days before we left for Yosemite. This forced us to find lodging in the valley last minute in the middle of July.
Yosemite has brilliant views of the majestic granite mountains and trees as well as adventures for all fitness and skill levels, which means that a wide variety of people flock to Yosemite, especially during the middle of the on-season. Yosemite features lodging options ranging from hotels to canvas tents to campgrounds in the valley, while also having campgrounds, RV parks, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and all kinds of rentals just outside the park/ There are a lot of options for your accommodation, but most of them need to be fought over because of availability. Choosing the lodging options outside of the park means driving about an hour into the valley everyday, while dealing with other inconveniences, but it’s easier to get reservations. However, lodging in the valley is definitely closer with less of the inconveniences, but more difficult to get thus requiring more planning.
While there, most of the campgrounds and hotels where already filled, except for Camp 4 and expensive rooms at the Ahwahnee hotel. We decided to go for Camp 4. Camp 4 is run by a lottery system similar to the lottery system for back country permits, but the lottery is only open the day before the reservation is being requested for. You have to submit your ticket for the lottery and pay the lottery fee the day before, but you can put in for the reservation to be longer than one night. When we did the lottery, we were able to get the three nights of our trip covered.
Camp 4 as well as a lot of the lodgings in Yosemite Valley are crowded because of the amount of people that want to see the brilliant views of the valley. Camp 4 had 4 bear boxes, 3 picnic tables and a fire ring in a 15ft x 30ft square area that potentially houses 4 different group of people. Luckily, we had the campsite to ourselves most of the time. The other campgrounds in the valley aren’t packed as tightly as Camp 4, but the campsites are generally closer than campgrounds outside of Yosemite. Curry Village (Half Dome Village) and Housekeeping Camp are packed together similarly to Camp 4, but the difference is that they are more structured with canvas tenets that are already set up and you rent the tent.
Like I said in the back country permits post, I would always advise to request your reservations for valley lodgings and some of the more popular outside lodgings as soon as they become available. This gives you the largest chance to secure your reservations.