Tuolumne Meadows Camping Boundary

For many years we have been very frustrated that the only information available on the no camping zone in Yosemite has been a blurb saying that there are various one and four mile no camping zones and beyond that to ask a ranger.  To put it simply, this is quite impractical for trip planning.

Here at TeamSK we practice what we call basepacking. We hike for several hours with packs loaded heavily with gear then drop them and set up base camp. We then day hike and night hike until it is time to pack up and go home. This strategy works very well given the usual time constraints we face of only having a long weekend for our trip. Thus we are keen to know where the camping boundary is in Yosemite so we know when and where we can set up our base camp while spending the minimum amount of time on the trail with our packs. Unfortunately this is information that the park service is oddly reticent to publish. The only maps we have ever found that have the boundary are those posted at the Wilderness Permit office  and trailheads around Tuolumne Meadows.

That said, some rangers aren't even aware of the boundary being printed on these maps.  For the September 2005 full moon we planned a quick overnight just beyond the printed boundary between the Esplanade and Glen Aulin. All set to hit the trail we zipped into the Tuolumne Meadows wilderness office to get a permit. When we told the ranger sitting behind the counter that  we would like a permit to go down the Tuolumne he blithely informed us that we would have to go a mile past Glen Aulin to camp.  "What do you mean," I exclaimed. Now it wasn't just the extra two miles of hiking that I was averse to, our plan was to stay in the granite where a clear view of the moon could be had not in the forest where he was sending us. "Well, it is five miles from the Meadows to Glean Aulin with a four mile camping limit out from the Meadows and a one mile limit around Glen Aulin," said the ranger. "So the maps are wrong," I responded. "What maps?" he says. At this point both the female ranger leaning against the wall and Gorman start to sense where this is going. The ranger behind the desk though remained clueless. So, she leans over and pokes at the park map under the glass counter and said, "I think they have gray zones around them." I quickly looked down and saw no such nonsense and figured if she actually knew what she was talking about she'd be outlining the boundaries with her finger as I've yet to meet a ranger who wasn't ready to point out in detail how knowledgeable they are and how misinformed you are. Now I was just about ready to *encourage* these rangers to follow me out to the map in front  of  their door to point out the camping boundary printed on it and subsequently the lack of a boundary being printed around Glen Aulin when Gorman wisely intervened. "What are you trying to do," he interjected with a crooked grin, "pick a fight with the ranger?" "Fine, we'll go a mile below Glen Aulin," I growl,  since I know that all we really want is to get the permit and get on the trail. So we put up with several more minutes of the desk ranger's nonsense, got the permit and got out. Now where did we camp you ask? :-)

TeamSK Publishes First Known Maps on the Web of Yosemite No Camping Zones!

Here are photos of the map (at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead) with the camping exclusion zone for various areas around Tioga Road, Tenaya Lake and of course Tuolumne Meadows. Feel free to take a print out with you on your next trip.

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cathedral_focus
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vogelsang
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esplanade
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esplanade_focus
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lyell
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tuolumne overview
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south
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tenaya
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tenaya west

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Created with pgg,  Photo Gallery Generator for Linux/UNIX.