Located deep in the rugged Yosemite National Park backcountry, Vogelsang is one of the park’s acclaimed High Sierra Camps (HSC). One of five high country camp areas, Vogelsang is the highest, situated at an elevation of 10,130 feet, near the head of Rafferty Creek, and at the base of 11,410-foot Fletcher Peak. The only way to get there is by hiking a fairly rugged 7.5-mile trail from Tioga Road (Hwy 120), in the Tuolumne Meadows area, up and over 9,992-foot Tuolumne Pass. The trail begins with a comfortable stroll along the picturesque Lyell Fork Tuolumne River, before climbing steadily south into lodgepole pine forest alongside tumbling Rafferty Creek, and finally emerging into sprawling alpine meadows surrounded by skyscraping granite spires.
The HSC at Vogelsang consists of 12 tent cabins that can accommodate a maximum of 42 guests. Cabins are equipped with bunks, but campers must provide their own linens or sleeping bags. Camp guests are also treated to family-style breakfast and dinner by the camp host and chef. A vault toilet is available near the camp area. Getting to stay in one of Vogelsang’s coveted cabins requires entering the annual HSC lottery, which typically takes place the winter before the summer hiking season. Due to high demand, the limited number of spaces, and the short accessibility season (often only 2–3 months), camps sell out quickly. If you don’t get a cabin space, you can choose to tent camp nearby (backcountry permit required). This is primitive wilderness camping, so you should follow Leave No Trace guidelines. You can still opt to purchase just a meal at the camp so you don’t have to cook. HSC cabin rates are $152–$159/person/night; meals only are $80/person/night; kids rates are available.
The Vogelsang HSC is the perfect basecamp for exploring one of the most spectacular regions of the Yosemite high country. Right near the camp, you can visit nearby Boothe Lake, take a chilly dip in Fletcher Lake, or make a short hike to Vogelsang Lake, which rests in a rocky basin between Fletcher Peak and 11,493-foot Vogelsang Peak. Wander a little farther through Vogelsang Pass for stunning views over Lewis Creek Canyon and 12,561-foot Mount Florence. For an extended trip, you can continue another 8 miles southwest to Merced Lake HSC, one of the larger, and more remote camps on the High Sierra Loop. For a stunning change of scenery on your hike out from Vogelsang, hike east through the Evelyn Lake meadows—with an optional 3-mile round trip to Ireland Lake—then drop down into the wide Lyell Canyon and finish with a leisurely, view-packed stroll north alongside the river.