How to Plan an RV Trip to Yosemite

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A golden fall day in Yosemite with a path leading the to the view of Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite National Park is a must-do park for many travelers. Its jaw-dropping features can leave visitors speechless. While there are many ways to see this fantastic park, we think an RV trip to Yosemite is one of the best. Today, we’ll look at how you can plan an unforgettable trip to Yosemite while RVing. 

How to Plan an RV Trip to Yosemite

You don’t want to come to Yosemite without a plan. There’s so much to see and do that it can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Researching and coming up with a plan before arrival will help you use your time wisely so you don’t miss anything. 

An RV is pulled of at the picturesque scene of Yosemite Valley.

Research and Book Your Campgrounds

Book your campsite well in advance, especially if you plan your visit for the peak season. Research the campgrounds available to you.

Know the size of your RV and stick to campgrounds that can accommodate you. You don’t want to waste your time looking at a campground that you won’t fit in.

Pro tip: Check out our article revealing all the secrets you need to know about booking a camping reservation in Yosemite National Park!

Staying in the National Park vs. Staying Outside the Park

One way to begin your campsite search is by deciding if you’d prefer to stay inside or outside the national park. Your RV setup and how you plan to tour the park play significant roles in which avenue you choose. Those with larger RVs may have a more challenging time finding a spot within the park’s boundaries

Plan Your Itinerary and Activities

While you don’t need a minute-by-minute plan for your RV trip to Yosemite, you should have a general idea of what you want to accomplish and when.

Failing to have a general idea of must-sees and hikes you want to do could have you wandering the park aimlessly and leaving feeling unaccomplished. 

Being flexible due to the weather or crowds may be necessary. 

Pro tip: If you aren’t sure where to start with planning your trip, check out our top 10 must-see things in Yosemite!

Yosemite Falls is a noteworthy sight to see while on your RV trip to Yosemite National Park.

Plan Your RV Friendly Driving Route

Regardless of whether you’ll be driving your RV directly into the park or not, you want an RV-friendly route.

The roads surrounding Yosemite and the roads within the park can be windy and have significant grades.

Check your entire course from your home to your campsite for any low clearances and rough terrain that may need you to seek an alternative route. 

Pro Tip: Use an RV travel planning app like RV Life Trip Wizard that will plan an RV safe driving route and help estimate fuel costs.

Plan Stops to See Along the Way

Just because Yosemite is your primary destination doesn’t mean there aren’t many great stops along the way. Break up your route on your RV trip to Yosemite by stopping at roadside attractions. Or stretch your legs on a short hike not far from your road. You might encounter some new favorite spots that you wouldn’t have found otherwise. 

El Capitan is a large and iconic view in Yosemite National Park.

Pre-Plan Gas Stops for Less Stress

Fueling up on RV trips can be a bit more complicated than when you’re just in a car. With RV setups being 30-50 ft in length, going through a standard pump lane would be nothing short of a nightmare. 

If you’re RVing with a diesel, preplan your fuel stops at truck stops as they can handle large vehicles. Those with gas RVs and tow vehicles will face more challenges, but plenty of gas stations have spacious RV-specific pumps.

When in doubt, look at satellite images of the fuel station you’re considering to see if the station will work for you. 

Tips for an RV Trip to Yosemite

It’s easy to visit Yosemite and end up utterly exhausted, maybe even frustrated. Here are a few tips to help you leave satisfied instead of run down. 

An RV is a great way to explore all to see in Yosemite National Park.

Follow the RV 2/2/2 Rule

Your journey begins with the drive to Yosemite. Don’t wear yourself out before you get to your destination.

If you have enough time, a good rule of thumb is the 2/2/2 rule, which states that you should stop for a break every two hours, only drive 200 miles in a day, and stay two nights.

If you’re tight on time, you might not strictly follow this rule, but you can still learn from the principle.

Set your guidelines on how far you’ll travel and under what conditions. You should be comfortable with your travel speed and duration.  

Schedule in Plenty of Rest and Relaxation

It’s easy to go-go-go once you’ve arrived at Yosemite. There are endless trails, experiences, and adventures.

To fully appreciate the experience, schedule plenty of mid-day breaks and even a down day here and there.

If you aren’t careful, you might look back on your trip and see it as a blur. Take a day to soak in the experience while resting your feet. 

If some of your must-see spots are popular locations, consider going early in the day. Parking lots fill early at many of the headliner locations.

Even if you snag a spot, it can be difficult to enjoy the beauty of an area when you’re shoulder to shoulder with others. 

If you cannot hit up a popular location first thing in the morning, consider “shift change.”

This is when the morning crowd has left to head out for a late lunch or early dinner, but the evening crowd hasn’t come in yet. 

Book Your Campsites Months in Advance

Some campsites within Yosemite can book several months in advance. If you plan on taking an RV trip to Yosemite during peak visitor times, book your campsite as soon as you know your dates. 

Ideally, you’ll book your campsite at least five months out. Those visiting during lower attendance will have more flexibility regarding campsite booking, but it’s best to have reservations. 

Renting an RV vs. Driving Your Own

Driving your RV a few thousand miles might seem daunting if you live far from Yosemite National Park.

Many fly in and rent an RV from companies that rent RVs and camper vans near Yosemite. That way, those who want the RVing experience can have it without owning or bringing their own. 

If you already own an RV, compare both experiences, including the cost to rent an RV locally vs. the cost of towing or driving your RV from home. 

A rental RV is parked against a granite wall in Yosemite National Park.

An RV Trip to Yosemite Is a Bucket List Experience

Yosemite is a popular national park, and it’s easy to see why. There’s something for everyone, from the inspired onlooker to the adventurous thrill-seekers; Yosemite is unforgettable. Deciding on an RV trip to Yosemite might just be your best idea yet!

If you’ve planned an RV trip to Yosemite, what tips would you give to a first-time visitor?

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