Camp Date: April 9-13, 2011
Campground: Upper Pines Campground
Cost: Currently $20/night (+ gate fee of $20)
Where’s it at? Yosemite Valley between Curry Village and Happy Isles


Upper Pines Campground lies in Yosemite Valley within Yosemite National Park. It is the closest campground to Happy Isles and the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls, and within easy walking distance to Curry Village, Happy Isles Nature Center, and the Mirror Lake Trails. There are also several free shuttle stops surrounding the campground.

We stayed in site 174 which is in the second closest loop to Happy Isles and is on the outskirts. I’d found a chart of campsites and their sizes online and this was one of the largest. There is a nice (seasonal) creek running right behind the campground and it is 3 sites away from the closest restroom, which to me is the perfect distance. With people in sites 172 and 175 it can be a little cramped but I suppose most of the sites in Yosemite valley are the same way. The creek was really nice for a pleasant sleeping background noise and this site also had some nice large boulders for kids to play around on. All in all I’d pick this site again if staying in this campground again. Upper Pines is open all year.

While usually there wouldn’t be snow this late on the valley floor, it had snowed 2 days prior to our arrival so we were greeted with a pretty moist and still snowy campsite. It all melted within 2 dry days though.

On our visit a bear broke into the food locker, twice! The first time it was just latched and we heard him inside. When I shined my light on him he ran away, but with the reflector from my backpack clearly dragging along with him. It had my camera in it! So I couldn’t let that go and followed him by flashlight about 100 yards toward the Fen in Happy Isles, where he finally dropped the pack. I was able to recover my camera just in time for his second visit to the food locker, which this time was LOCKED with a coat hanger twisted through the lock mechanism. He was able to open it enough to pull more stuff out until we chased him away and moved our food to the (luckily) empty site next door at 175. In the morning the rangers noticed the broken locker and allowed us to stay in this site while storing our food in site 173 for the balance of our reservation there.

This campsite was great for launching to other day hikes. We weren’t able to do the Mist Trail because it was closed, but it was an easy walk to the trailhead for Mirror Lake, was within walking distance of Curry Village, and had several shuttle stops to choose from with a short walk.

Photos from Upper Pines Campground Site 174 (click to enlarge)

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