If you are a new camper, that likes to be around a lot of people, any of the Valley campgrounds are great. For me, it is way too busy. I want to get out of the city, and with the amount of people I felt claustrophobic.
With that said, Yosemite is one of the most majestic places on the planet, and I don't care where you camp, just go! Each site has a bear box, please be sure to use it, you will encounter numerous wildlife while you are here, and they all want your food! They also come with fire pits and picnic tables.
I didnt spend alot of time at my campground due to the fact that the valley has numerous hiking trails, so many waterfalls, lectures nightly on different environmental topics.
Be sure to reserve your site well in advance. Spring is best time to go, but seriously, just go!
Fairly busy campground in the heart of the valley. I came here after a long backpacking trip to do some light dayhiking. It seemed to have less people than Upper Pines where I stayed the night before. It has great views as well.
Other than that it is a decent campground. It has nice bathrooms and a sink to do dishes (that was full of food and made me worried about bears). Bus stops are close by and so are several hiking trails.
Typical campground set up with fire rings and bear lockers at each campsite. Flush toilets, but no showers. There is a dedicated sink to wash dishes at by the bathrooms along with a faucet for drinking water and a water bottle filling station. You can take a shower at Half Dome village right down the road for $5/person. They provide towels, shampoo, and body wash. The campground is conveniently located right next to a shuttle stop which makes it easy to get around the valley, but it’s also very noisy at times if you have a campsite right next to the road so just keep that in mind. Both Half Dome Village and Yosemite Village have large general stores that sell firewood and anything you could possibly need so if you forget something you can most likely find it there. No WiFi and very limited cell service. You can get LTE coverage outside Lower Yosemite Falls if you absolutely need to get ahold of someone or read an email. My only warning is about the pine sap! The pine trees are great for shade but get pine sap all over everything so just be prepared to clean it off your car and camping gear. Also a good idea to bring something to cover the seats of your picnic bench when you sit down, otherwise you stick to them.
Campsite was classic, had bear boxes (of course), and also had nightly seminars on different topics in the amphitheater (the night we went it was on bird communication). Bathrooms were pretty basic, not lit at night so you need a flashlight.
You’re on the valley floor and you really can’t beat that view wise. There are a lot of amenities near the campground and the busses (if they’re not too full) stop at the entrance. There is an amphitheater in the campground with ranger talks also. They ask you not to have a fire if you don’t have to, and you will see why at night. It hangs in the air. Sites are spaced apart enough, and it wasn’t too loud when we were there. If you can get a site here, take it. You won’t regret it.
This place has bear proof food storage containers for a reason. Use them. I had my backpack ravaged by a racoon, because of a handfull of trailmix that I forgot to take out.
The Yosemite Valley campgrounds are large and busy - it's an extremely popular park, and Lower Pines is right in the heart of things. Don't expect silence and solitude if you are staying here. That being said, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Lower Pines. We camped for 3 nights in a camper van (switched to Upper Pines for a 4th night). Reservations are hard to come by; we got very lucky and reserved our spot only a couple of weeks before our trip (traveling in the Fall helped some).
Site was large with a bear box to store food - be sure to use this and store food safely! The rangers will warn you about the destruction bears can cause, and there are pictures posted all over to prove it. Our site had a large level parking pad (perfect for the campervan), picnic table, and fire ring. Awesome views of El Cap towering above us, at night you could see the lights from climbers up on the wall.
Bathrooms were clean, access to drinking water was easy. Park shuttle is nearby and easy to get around. Half Dome Village was a short walk/shuttle ride with access to food, stores (got some tenacious tape to repair a hole in a hydration bladder, saving our hiking!) and showers (for a fee). They had rental bikes which we used for a day to explore the path around the Valley. Trails were very close, we did a lot of hiking/trail running and were able to get a permit for Half Dome as well which was awesome! We were there in late September/early October - Yosemite Falls was dry and the other waterfalls are much lower that time of year, something to keep in mind if seeing the waterfalls roaring is in your itinerary.
All of our nearby campers were very polite and friendly. Yes, this is a "tourist" type campground, not a backcountry or dispersed site in the middle of nowhere. Everyone is there to experience Yosemite Valley in their own way. We found it to be fairly quiet and enjoyed checking out other people's camping setups and chatting with them while walking around, etc. We didn't find that to be a negative experience at all.
Great for year round camping. Easy walk to many of the valley climbs and trail heads. Close walk to Happly Isles and Curry Village.
Most recently spent a week here for a climbing trip but I've stayed here during the winter as well.
Bathrooms are clean and there is a designated dish washing sink in the bathroom area. Showers located at Curry Village.
Be sure to use the Bear box in your site and keep it closed at all times. I've heard stories about people simply walking back to the car and a bear getting into the box within a minute.
I love Yosemite. I love camping. But this campground is not my favorite. We stayed here, just for the convenience of being close to the trailhead for Half Dome, which was the purpose of our visit. It is also a convenient place to see much of the park and the Valley. However, it is far too crowded for my tastes. And full of touristy people (read: RVs).
Pros: Nice facilities, convenient access to Yosemite Valley via the free shuttle system, convenient access to Half Dome trailhead and other hiking trails, nearby amenities. If you need food or a shower, it's just a short shuttle or car ride over to Half Dome Village to get what you need, including restaurants and a bar. You can even hop on shuttles to Glacier Point and other popular destinations. It is all well shaded and you have access to potable water and flush toilet restrooms. It is also centrally located in the park and you can get to most of the sites with just an hour or so drive.
Cons: TOO MANY PEOPLE. When I camp, I like to get away from people and get away from civilization. If you do too, think about looking into campgrounds outside of Yosemite Valley. When I do camp around other people, it is usually with the understanding that they are also "camping people". The folks you are likely to find in the Valley are not these people. They are tourists. Tourists just don't have the same "campers' code" that you find among camping people. There is an unspoken rule that is honored among campers. And up at the top of that is respecting other campers' campsite and property. We had people walking right through our site as a shortcut to the restrooms and I even had someone steal my hammock in the middle of the night from right next to my tent. The next time I stay in Yosemite, I will avoid staying in this area.
Conclusion: Convenient, but loud and crowded. Beware of thieves.
A convenient hub for activities in Yosemite Valley. Toilets, water, and a storage box for all the food and other smelly items that attract bears. The valley can be a circus, but get off the beaten path and enjoy taking in the soaring cliffs and plunging waterfalls!