Because of the high demand for campsites in Yosemite National Park, the best way to choose a suitable site is to plan ahead, find an appropriate campground online and reserve the site in advance as soon as it becomes available. Non-reserved sites at first-come, first-served campgrounds should be claimed early in the day. Camping outside of designated campgrounds is illegal.
During the peak camping season of approximately April to September, most of Yosemite's campgrounds are on a reservation-only basis. Reservations become available five months in advance, and they generally are filled within the first few minutes of 7 a.m. on the day they become available. Reservation-only campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis during the winter. For campgrounds that operate without reservations, campers should arrive early enough in the morning to claim sites while other campers are leaving. Hikers who want to stay at back country campgrounds need to obtain wilderness permits in advance.
When reserving a site, campers should keep in mind that some campgrounds are walk-in only, while others permit vehicles of designated lengths. Some have tap water, while others only have creek water that must be boiled before drinking. Most campgrounds permit pets. As of 2014, daily campground fees vary from $5 to $20, and the number of sites per campground varies from 35 to 304.