How to get a campsite reservation in Yosemite during peak seasons

When it comes to camping in Yosemite during the spring and summer there is no let’s just head to the valley and see if there is anything available. My family and friends have been camping in the Upper Pines Campground every summer for almost a decade. Each year as we log on to book a reservation the fear of not getting a campsite for our annual vacation has us chomping our nails with anxiety. Here are a few things that we have learned over the years to help you plan your camping vacation in one of the most beautiful places in the world!

Here is the challenge: Reservations become available to book at 7am Pacific time six months before your planned camping time and are all reserved by 7:05am Pacific time. So how on earth are you supposed to get a site? Here are my best tips…

  1. Get up early! We get up and get online 30 minutes before the sites become available. This gives us time to make sure that all of the things we need to make a reservation are available to us and we are not fumbling for things at the last moment.
  2. Get on the fastest internet connection you can. In this game micro seconds matter! There are thousands of people trying for hundreds of spots. Make every click count!
  3. Don’t bother with the phone. The reservation agents use the same system that you would to book it online. why add a middle man to slow you down?
  4. Enlist the help of your friends. Every year we have four people trying for one or two sites. There have been years where we didn’t get a single site and other years where we ended up with three. It only costs 10 dollars to cancel a reservation. I feel that is a small price to pay to ensure that we get our vacation spot.
  5. Be logged in to ahead of time. If you don’t do this you could lose your spot when you have to log in. There is only a limited time you have to pay before it put the site back out to be booked. This has happened to me! The worst is to get a campsite and then lose it because you have to log in. Or worse re-log in don’t think that you can log in the night before and be okay. The website will log you out automatically after a certain amount of time and you won’t know this until you try to book a reservation.
  6.  Be ready to book your first choice right a 7am but don’t put all of your hopes in that campsite. Here is what I do… I try for my favorite spot (wouldn’t you like to know which one that is). If I don’t get it as quick as I can I jump to the campground map and grab whatever is left as quickly as possible. Don’t think! just go you don’t have time to be choosey at this point.
  7. Okay it is now 7:10 am and your emotionally spent and you didn’t get a spot should you just give up and cry into you coffee? Well, not yet. There is still one thing you can do get a campsite. This last tip is just about pure determination and not your speed on the computer. Because campers into Yosemite Valley are forced to book 6 months ahead of time the campgrounds get a lot of cancellations over time. So, if you are willing to call the reservation center every day for six months you still might have a chance to make your dream camping trip in Yosemite a reality.

I hope that this helps you get a spot this summer in Yosemite. If you have any other tips or tricks I would love to hear them. Drop me an email at If this blog post was in any way helpful to you look for me every June in the Upper Pines Campground I would love to meet you!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my children’s book The Story of Elmer in Yosemite to read around the campfire. It is about a Yosemite legend that dates back as far as the 1930’s .Thin_book_03

The Story Of Elmer in Yosemite is Out!!

Just in case you are new to the Prepared Idiot Podcast and Blog we did a 3 Part series on how to publish your own children’s book. (You can still get those shows on this website). It took a year of dealing with illustrators and figuring out what shape the story should take. BUT IT’S DONE!

Thin_book_03Since the 1930’s Yosemite campers have long been confused and amused by shouts from all directions calling the name “Elmer!” Imagine sitting in your campsite, enjoying an evening campfire and the quietness of the evening is suddenly interrupted by all of your neighbors erupting into a shouting match calling for the little boy that got lost decades ago. The inescapable exchange is often heard in the campgrounds in Yosemite Valley. A tale that has survived for years around the campfire is now a children’s book to read around the fire by flashlight. So cuddle up in your sleeping bag and learn The Story of Elmer and a little bit about Yosemite National Park.

If you have follow the blog for a while you will have seen some of the early proofs that I had done trying to find someone to illustrate the Story of Elmer for me. It turns out that my friend Alden Olmsted was the right guy for the job!

Alden is a filmmaker, photographer, and artist, and is the youngest son of California naturalist and parks crusader John Olmsted.  Growing up in Sonoma with his older brother and history major mother, he was often out past bedtime, exploring most every creek and canyon within bicycling distance. Distant cousin to famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Alden continues his father’s dream of an across California hiking trail at

Because you are listeners you can get your copy now! Before the masses get their grubby little hands on itt! That is why I have created a special discount just for you. For the next 2 weeks only enter the discount code (PapaBob) upon checkout and get 2 dollars off of each book you order! Get your copies before it is on-line and in stores go to now and help Elmer find his way into your home!


How to Publish your Own Book Part 1 (Re-broadcast)

How to Publish your Own Book Part 2 (Re-broadcast)

How to Publish your Own Book Part 3 (Re-broadcast)