Hikes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

One magnificent mountain range covers much of the center of California, running 400 miles from north to south. Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park all lie within the Sierra Nevada Mountains, as well as a patchwork of other state and federally protected lands. This land seems made for hiking, with pristine meadows, giant sequoia forests, clear lakes, gushing rivers, and towering peaks. Choose a trail from the list below and explore the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Highlights of the Sierra Nevada

  • This fun 2-mile hike visits a limestone tunnel (that you can swim through) in a creek in Calaveras County.
  • This 5-mile hike tours a flooded valley to a thundering waterfall in the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park.
  • This 1.8 to 6.1-mile hike follows an exciting trail up the Merced River to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, two of Yosemite National Park's prize waterfalls.
  • This nearly 10-mile long hike travels from Glacier Point down to Yosemite Valley in the most scenic way possible, ending with the Mist Trail.
  • This epic 16-mile hike climbs from Yosemite Valley to the top of the most iconic crest in Yosemite National Park.
  • This 1.2-mile loop takes visitors to the base of the tallest waterfall in North America, an electrifying Yosemite National Park feature.
  • This 5-mile loop is scenic and easy, exploring east from the backcountry gateway at Road's End along both sides of the South Fork Kings River in Kings Canyon.
  • This 0.5-mile hike reaches an exception Kings Canyon National Park overlook with views into Kings Canyon.
  • This 2-mile hike reaches a granite summit with 360-degree views over the Redwood Mountain Grove and Kings Canyon.
  • This 8.3-mile loop on Hart Tree Trail and Redwood Creek Trail passes peaceful streams and sequoias in the Redwood Mountain Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.
  • This 0.6-mile hike (with a lot of stairs) sports panoramic views and should be considered a mandatory hike for first time visitors to Sequoia National Park.
  • This paved 1-mile hike visits the world's biggest tree, a landmark within the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park.
  • This easy, educational, and beautiful 1.4-mile loop explores the giant sequoias around Round Meadow in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park.
  • This 2-mile hike visits a large granite dome in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park with great views to the west.
  • This gradual 4.2-mile hike visits the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park.
  • This level 1.6-mile loop visits a Sequoia you can stand inside (Chimney Tree) and another that someone used to live in (Tharp's Log).
  • This half-mile stroll leaves Buckeye Flat Campground to visit the perfect swimming hole for a hot summer day in Sequoia National Park.
  • This 9.4-mile hike visits a spectacular pair of lakes high above Mineral King Valley in Sequoia National Park.
  • This 0.5-mile hike just off Western Divide Highway in Giant Sequoia National Monument provides a great view of the valley below.
  • This scenic 10 to 15-mile round trip hike crosses a lake-filled basin in the John Muir Wilderness to access to New Army Pass, a 12,300-foot pass on the border of Sequoia National Park.

The tallest peaks are located on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The highest point in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney rises to 14,505 feet, and is one a dozen 14ers in the High Sierra. The Sierra Nevada Mountains contain all of the world’s natural groves of giant sequoias, including the world’s largest tree, the General Sherman Tree. North America’s tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls, is another feature in this incredible mountain range.

Hiking the Sierra Nevada Mountains

This collection of trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains lists hikes from north to south and west to east. The table may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help you pick your next hike. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, maps, directions, and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these trails. An interpretive map is also provided.

Trail
Description
Distance
Location
North Grove Big Trees050North Grove - Big Trees Trail
This easy loop in Calaveras Big Trees State Park explores the first giant sequoias discovered by settlers in California.
1.5 miles
25 feet
38.278071,
-120.309392
Upper Natural Bridge060Upper Natural Bridge Trail
This fun hike visits a limestone tunnel (that you can swim through) in a creek in Calaveras County.
2 miles
300 feet
38.052011,
-120.471381
Dragoon Gulch070Dragoon Gulch Trail
This loop follows a creek and up a ridge to views over Sonora.
2.5
325 feet
37.982397,
-120.39055
Hetch Hetchy Wapama Falls150Wapama Falls
This level hike tours the reservoir in Hetch Hetchy Valley to a thundering waterfall in the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park.
5 miles
200 feet
37.946905,
-119.787376
Yosemite May Lake160May Lake
This short east hike visits a peaceful alpine lake in the high elevation region of Yosemite National Park north of Yosemite Valley.
2.4 miles
475 feet
37.832633,
-119.49118
Yosemite Mirror Lake170Mirror Lake Park
This easy hike reaches a relaxing reflective pool on the east end of Yosemite Valley.
2 to 2.8 miles
100 feet
37.739208,
-119.56015
Happy Isles Yosemite177Happy Isles
This short, easy hike explores a pair of islands in the Merced River at the east end of Yosemite Valley.
0.75 miles
50 feet
37.7324,
-119.5598
Yosemite Half Dome180Half Dome
This epic hike climbs from Yosemite Valley to the top of the most iconic crest in the Yosemite Landscape.
16 miles
4,800 feet
37.732567,
-119.558282
Yosemite Mist Trail190Mist Trail
This exciting trail climbs the Merced River past Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, two of the prize waterfalls in Yosemite National Park.
1.8 to 6.1 miles
400 to 1,925 feet
37.732567,
-119.558282
Panorama Trail Yosemite200Panorama Trail
This hike travels from Glacier Point down to Yosemite Valley in the most scenic way possible, ending with the Mist Trail.
9.4 miles (one-way)
3,200 feet
37.727942,
-119.573476
Glacier Point205Glacier Point
This 7,214-foot overlook towers above Yosemite Valley and provides incredible drive-up views.
0.5 miles
50 feet
37.727103,
-119.574456
Washburn Point206Washburn Point
This Glacier Point adjacent overlook offers views of Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and mountains in the Clark Range.
0 miles37.7204,
-119.5730
Columbia Rock207Columbia Rock
This hike up the start of Yosemite Falls Trail reaches a perch with a sweeping perspective across Yosemite Valley.
2.2 miles
985 feet
37.7423,
-119.6021
Yosemite Falls Trail208Yosemite Falls Trail
This hike rises above Columbia Rock to attain unforgettable views of Upper Yosemite Fall.
3.5 to 7.1 miles
1,210 to 2,715 feet
37.7423,
-119.6021
Lower Yosemite Fall210Lower Yosemite Fall
This electrifying loop in Yosemite Valley delivers visitors to the base of the tallest waterfall in North America.
1.2 miles
100 feet
37.745347,
-119.594777
Yosemite Taft Point220Taft Point
This out and back hike visits an overlook on the south wall of Yosemite Valley with fascinating rock fissures carved into the exposed granite.
2 miles
250 feet
37.7126,
-119.586318
Bridalveil Fall230Bridalveil Fall
This easy paved trail visits the base of a 620-foot single-drop waterfall on the south side of Yosemite Valley.
0.5 miles
50 feet
37.7168,
-119.651
Wildcat Falls233Wildcat Falls
This short path finds a secluded cascade along El Portal Road near the Arch Rock Entrance of Yosemite National Park.
0.15 miles
15 feet
37.7215,
-119.7151
Tunnel View240Tunnel View
Pull the car over at this extraordinary must see viewpoint looking up Yosemite Valley.
0 miles37.715476,
-119.67678
Chilnualna Falls250Chilnualna Falls
This out and back hike begins near raucous cascades and ends atop a waterfall in southern Yosemite National Park.
8 miles
2,200 feet
37.54839,
-119.63369
Wawona Swinging Bridge Trail255Wawona Swinging Bridge
This hike leads to a suspension bridge spanning a charming stretch of the South Fork Merced River in the Wawona Area of Yosemite National Park.
0.8 to 1.4 miles
40 to 70 feet
37.54637,
-119.63015
Wawona Meadow Loop Trail260Wawona Meadow Loop Trail
This gentle hike passes through forest encircling a verdant, mostly-natural meadow near Wawona Hotel at the south end of Yosemite National Park.
3.9 miles
250 feet
37.53441,
-119.6499
Mariposa Grove270Mariposa Grove
This hike explores the biggest trees in Yosemite National Park, which can be seen on foot or by tram.
1.6 to 8 miles
400 to 1,200 feet
37.501462,
-119.610862
Thousand Island Lake300Thousand Island Lake
This exceptional lake is a true gem of the Sierra, reached via a section of Pacific Crest Trail through Ansel Adams Wilderness near Mammoth Lakes.
18 miles
1,515 feet
37.682865,
-119.0847
Shadow Lake310Shadow Lake
This hike crosses a picturesque canyon and passes a plunging cascade to visit a mountain lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness near Mammoth Lakes.
8.5 miles
750 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Ediza Lake315Ediza Lake
This hike ventures above Shadow Lake along a creek to a beautiful lake below Mount Ritter and Banner Peak.
15 miles
1,250 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Iceberg Lake320Iceberg Lake
This short extension off the trail to Ediza Lake heads to a higher lake in a sublime setting below a ridge of steep spires called the Minarets.
1 mile (extension)
510 feet

37.682,
-119.086
Garnet Lake325Garnet Lake
This beautiful lake along John Muir Trail lies between Shadow Lake and Thousand Island Lake, making it an ideal stop on a backpacking loop.
17.1 miles
2,070 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Ediza Lake - Thousand Island Lake Loop330Ediza Lake - Thousand Island Lake Loop
This multi-day trek incorporates sections of John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail to visit a series of stunning Sierra lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of Inyo National Forest.
25 miles
2,110 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Minaret Falls340Minaret Falls
This out and back hike from Devils Postpile National Monument connects with Pacific Crest Trail to reach the base of a waterfall that tumbles and slides down a rocky slope.
3 miles
125 feet
37.6299,
-119.0847
Devils Postpile350Devils Postpile
This hike visits the columnar basalt cliff that Devils Postpile National Monument is named after, with top-down and bottom-up views of the impressive formation. The hike can be extended to include Rainbow Falls at the south end of the monument.
1 to 1.35 miles
40 to 215 feet
37.6299,
-119.0847
Rainbow Falls360Rainbow Falls
This hike passes the Devils Postpile Formation to reach an attractive 101-foot waterfall with rainbows in its mist.
5.1 to 5.25 miles
325 to 435 feet
37.6299,
-119.0847
Bull Buck Tree Trail Nelder Grove400Bull Buck Tree Trail
This easy loop leaves from Nelder Grove Campground and leads to a single giant sequoia with an incredibly broad base.
0.8 miles
120 feet
37.4301,
-119.5831
Big Ed Tree Trail Nelder Grove410Big Ed Tree Trail
This hike is quite short, but visits a tree that is quite big - part of the Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias in Sierra National Forest.
0.2 miles
25 feet
37.4296,
-119.58614
Shadow of the Giants Trail Nelder Grove420Shadow of the Giants Trail
This nature trail loop visits giants sequoias and imparts wisdom about the great trees and their surroundings.
1.1 miles
200 feet
37.4262,
-119.5962
Corlieu Falls Lewis Creek Trail430Lewis Creek Trail to Corlieu Falls
This hike passes down along a rushing creek to a viewing platform in front of an enthusiastic, cascading waterfall.
0.8 miles
275 feet
37.41662,
-119.6266
Grizzly Falls Sequoia National Forest500Grizzly Falls
This stroll at Grizzly Falls Picnic Area reaches the base of an 80-foot waterfall in Sequoia National Forest, located along Generals Highway near the Cedar Grove Area of Kings Canyon National Park.
0.1 miles
10 feet
36.802979,
-118.743561
Roaring River Falls in Kings Canyon National Park510Roaring River Falls
This paved out and back hike reaches a thundering little waterfall on a tributary of the Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park.
0.3 miles
25 feet
36.783747,
-118.622121
Kanawyer Loop Trail Kings Canyon National Park520Kanawyer Loop Trail
This loop is scenic and easy, exploring east from the backcountry gateway at Road's End along both sides of the South Fork Kings River in in Kings Canyon National Park.
5 miles
125 feet
36.794663,
-118.582941
Panoramic Point in Kings Canyon National Park530Panoramic Point
This short out and back hike reaches an exception overlook with views into Kings Canyon.
0.5 miles
100 feet
36.753793,
-118.946754
North Boundary Trail in Kings Canyon National Park540North Boundary Trail
This lollipop loop hike starts on the trail between Grant Grove and Grant Village and passes the General Grant Tree to reach a 2.75-mile loop through the pine forest north of Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.
3.55 miles
375 feet
36.746811,
-118.972595
Grant Tree Trail Kings Canyon National Park550General Grant Tree Trail
This loop in the Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park passes through a Fallen Monarch to reach the General Grant Tree, one of the world's largest sequoias.
0.8 miles
50 feet
36.747,
-118.973128
North Grove Trail in Kings Canyon National Park560North Grove Trail
This loop explores a quiet grove of sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park near the crowded Grant Grove and can combine with Dead Giant Loop Trail for 3.25-mile hike.
2 miles
350 feet
36.747103,
-118.974642
Dead Giant Loop Trail in Kings Canyon National Park570Dead Giant Loop Trail
This loop passes a small meadow and a large dead sequoia to reach Sequoia Lake Overlook and can combine with nearby North Grove Trail for 3.25-mile hike in Kings Canyon National Park
2.25 miles
300 feet
36.747103,
-118.974642
Grant Village to Grant Grove Trail Kings Canyon National Park580Grant Village to Grant Grove Trail
This mile-long trail connects the visitor center at Grant Village in Kings Canyon National Park with the parking lot at Grant Grove, passing through Azalea Campground to reach giant sequoias, including the General Grant Tree.
2 miles
250 feet
36.740049,
-118.963588
Buena Vista Peak in Kings Canyon National Park590Buena Vista Peak
This out and back hike reaches a granite summit with 360-degree views over the Redwood Mountain Grove and Kings Canyon.
2 miles
420 feet
36.718234,
-118.896935
Hart Tree and Fallen Goliath Loop in Kings Canyon National Park600Hart Tree and Fallen Goliath Loop
This loop on Hart Tree Trail and Redwood Creek Trail passes tranquil streams and interesting sequoias in the Redwood Mountain Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.
8.3 miles
925 feet
36.707444,
-118.92093
Tokopah Falls610Tokopah Falls
This gradual out and back hike visits the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park.
4.2 miles
630 feet
36.6048,
-118.7249
General Sherman620General Sherman Tree
This paved out at back hike in Sequoia National Park visits the world's biggest tree.
1 mile
200 feet
36.5848,
-118.74984
Congress Loop640Congress Loop
This easy paved loop in Sequoia National Park visits the fourth and fifth tallest Sequoias in the world (among others).
2 miles
230 feet
36.5848,
-118.74984
Sunset Rock650Sunset Rock
This out and back hike in Sequoia National Park visits a large granite dome with great views to the west.
2 miles
50 feet
36.5657,
-118.7724
Big Trees Trail sequoia660Big Trees Trail
This easy, educational, and beautiful loop explores the giant sequoias around Round Meadow in Sequoia National Park.
1.4 miles
50 feet
36.564866,
-118.773736
Beetle Rock670 Beetle Rock
This short walk in Sequoia National Park goes from the Giant Forest Museum to Beetle Rock visits a granite dome with great views and stunning sunsets.
0.25 miles
50 feet
36.5647, -118.77425
Crescent Meadow680Crescent Meadow
This level loop in Sequoia National Park visits a Sequoia you can stand inside (Chimney Tree) and another that someone used to live in (Tharp's Log).
1.6 miles
150 feet
36.5548,
-118.7490
Sugar Pine Trail and Bobcat Point Loop sequoia690Sugar Pine and Bobcat Point Trails Loop
This short but diverse loop in Sequoia National Park peaks at Bobcat Point, which presents a fierce perspective of Moro Rock and a massive canyon.
1.5 miles
250 feet
36.5548,
-118.7490
Hanging Rock trail Sequoia National Park700Hanging Rock
This short out and back hike in Sequoia National Park passes views of Moro Rock en route to a balancing boulder on a canyon rim at the edge of the Giant Forest.
0.35 miles
100 feet
36.549128,
-118.768186
Moro Rock710Moro Rock
This short out and back hike (with a lot of stairs) sports panoramic views and should be considered a mandatory hike for first time visitors to Sequoia National Park.
0.6 miles
300 feet
36.5469,
-118.7656
Marble Falls720Marble Falls
This out and back hike takes a flower-lined path up a mountain canyon to a powerful waterfall in Sequoia National Park.
8 miles
2,150 feet
36.51785,
-118.80115
Paradise Creek730Paradise Creek
This short stroll leaves Buckeye Flat Campground to visit the perfect swimming hole for a hot summer day in Sequoia National Park.
0.5 to 6 miles
75 feet
36.52185,
-118.76352
Panther Creek740Panther Creek
This out and back hike follows the Middle Fork Trail to a 100 foot waterfall into the Middle Fork of Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park.
6 miles (or farther)
600 feet
36.52755,
-118.7513
Hockett Trail750Hockett Trail
This out and back hike descends through sequoias to East Fork Kaweah River and farther into the backcountry of the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park.
3 to 5 miles (or farther)
600 feet
36.46424,
-118.6690
Monarch Lakes760Monarch Lakes
This out and back hike visits a spectacular pair of lakes high above Mineral King Valley in Sequoia National Park.
9.4 miles
2,500 feet
36.45305,
-118.59665
Eagle Lake780Eagle Lake
The out and back hike climbs the west side of Mineral King Valley to a high-elevation lake in Sequoia National Park.
7.2 miles
2,200 feet
36.4488,
-118.5954
Mount Pickering850Mount Pickering
This 13,485-foot summit in Sequoia National Park rises above Sky Blue Lake to offer sweeping views of the Sierra.
30 miles
3,500 feet
36.527133,
-118.290875
Sky Blue Lake860Sky Blue Lake
This hike extends beyond Lower Soldier Lake up Miter Basin to a deep blue lake surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks.
26 miles
2,350 feet
36.532788,
-118.273494
Primrose Lake870Primrose Lake
This trek visits a lake off the side of Miter Basin near Sky Blue Lake and below Mount Pickering in Sequoia National Park.
28 miles
2,350 feet
36.521144,
-118.276173
Mount Langley880Mount Langley
This trek travels past Cottonwood Lakes Trail over New Army Pass to a 14,042-foot summit with towering views of the Sierra.
22 miles
4,000 feet
36.4532,
-118.1699
Lower Soldier Lake890Lower Soldier Lake
This 19.2-mile loop crosses Cottonwood Pass and New Army Pass to visit a beautiful lake that is an ideal camping spot for backpackers heading higher and deeper into the Sierra.
17.6 to 20.8 miles
1,500 to 2,350 feet
36.503604,
-118.269331
Cirque Peak900Cirque Peak
This 12,900-foot summit in Inyo National Forest can be reached via off-trail ascents from New Army Pass, Cirque Lake, and Chicken Spring Lake.
13 to 19 miles
2,900 feet
36.476732,
-118.237023
Cottonwood Lakes910Cottonwood Lakes
This scenic trail in Inyo National Forest provides a day hike through a lake-filled basin and access to New Army Pass, a 12,300-foot pass on the border of Sequoia National Park.
10 to 15 miles
1,400 to 2,350 feet
36.4532,
-118.1699
Old Cottonwood Creek Trail920Old Cottonwood Creek Trail
This hike in Inyo National Forest follows a secluded trail through mountain meadows to the South Fork Lakes and Cirque Lake.
8 to 9 miles
1,150 feet
36.4532,
-118.1699
Chicken Spring Lake930Chicken Spring Lake
This hike in Inyo National Forest continues past Cottonwood Pass to an alpine lake that makes a nice day hike destination or a good first camp for backpackers.
8.2 miles
1,330 feet
36.44834,
-118.17065
Cottonwood Pas940Cottonwood Pass
This trail leaves Horseshoe Meadow for an 11,200-foot pass and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, with access to Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.
7 miles
1,200 feet
36.44834,
-118.17065
Needles Lookout950Needles Lookout
This out and back hike visits a fire tower with unbeatable views over Sequoia National Forest.
5 miles
500 feet
36.1198,
-118.5084
Dome Rock960Dome Rock
This short out and back hike just off Western Divide Highway in Sequoia National Forest provides a great view of the valley below.
0.5 miles
75 feet
36.068,
-118.532
Sierra Waterslide970Natural Water Slide
This out and back hike visits a refreshing natural water slide on the eastern side of the Great Western Divide in Sequoia National Forest.
1.5 mile
150 feet
36.02745,
-118.5153
Trail of 100 Giants980Trail of 100 Giants
This paved loop explores a grove of giant sequoias alongside Western Divide Highway in Sequoia National Forest.
1.3 miles
80 feet
35.97733,
-118.59399
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Columbia Rock Yosemite National Park Columbia Rock Viewpoint Yosemite Falls Trail Hike Yosemite Valley California
Yosemite Valley looks great from the bottom up, the top down, and even the middle out. For this neither-up-nor-down view over Yosemite Valley, visit Columbia Rock, a viewpoint on Yosemite Falls Trail perched about thousand feet up the north wall of Yosemite Valley. The hike from Camp 4 up to Columbia Rock is 2.2 miles round trip with 985 feet of elevation change. Of course, continuing up... Read more.
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Tagged with · National Parks · Yosemite Valley
Distance: 2.2 miles · Elevation change: 985 feet
By: Published: Last updated: January 31, 2018
Washburn Point Overlook Glacier Point Road Viewpoint Yosemite National Park California
Glacier Point is probably the most incredibly viewpoint in Yosemite National Park (rivaled closely by Tunnel View), but it isn't the only viewpoint along Glacier Point Road. Washburn Point is located 3/4 of a miles from the end of Glacier Point Road, south of Glacier Point. Its vistas are similar to Glacier Point, and since you have to pass Washburn Point to get out to Glacier Point, it's... Read more.
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By: Published: Last updated: January 30, 2018
Wildcat Falls Trail Yosemite National Park Wildcat Creek Falls Path Waterfall Hike California
Is it possible to have a Yosemite National Park waterfall all to yourself? Yes! The odds of waterfall solitude are pretty low when you go to Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, or Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall along the Mist Trail, but unheralded Wildcat Falls is different. Although this multi-tier waterfall is about 650 feet tall, only the bottom 50-foot tall cascade at the base of Wildcat Falls... Read more.
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Tagged with · National Parks · Waterfalls
Distance: 0.15 miles · Elevation change: 15 feet
By: Published: Last updated: January 30, 2018
Yosemite Falls Trail Yosemite National Park Upper Yosemite Fall Hike Yosemite Valley California
Yosemite Falls is incredibly beautiful and incredibly big. It is the tallest waterfall in North America, the 5th tallest waterfall in the world, and a star along the north wall of Yosemite Valley. Hiking to Yosemite Falls is one of the greatest things visitors can do in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite Falls drops a total of 2,425 feet, beginning with the cliff-leaping 1,430-foot Upper... Read more.
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Tagged with · National Parks · Waterfalls · Yosemite Valley
Distance: 7 miles · Elevation change: 2715 feet
By: Published: Last updated: January 31, 2018
Housekeeping Camp Yosemite National Park Lodging Accommodations Yosemite Valley California
Yosemite National Park receives four million visitors per year, filling the park's campgrounds and hotels. When all the campsites are reserved and the hotels have no vacancies (or list prices that are uncomfortably high), consider a middle option provided at Housekeeping Camp in the middle of Yosemite Valley. Housekeeping Camp offers 3-walled units with canvas roofs and flaps – imagine... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: January 30, 2018