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Yosemite - Camp 4 changes

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:19 pm
by markskor
Camp 4 daily lottery to go into effect beginning on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Yosemite National Park announces that a new pilot lottery program for Camp 4 Campground will launch on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. This daily lottery system will be operated through and will help improve the visitor experience at Camp 4 Campground.

Camp 4 Campground is a walk-in campground and the only first-come, first-served campground in Yosemite Valley. Visitor demands for a camping space at Camp 4 have been increasing over the past decade and the current registration system no longer serves the public and meets the needs of current campers. Under the current system, campers have to line up and wait for a first-come, first-served camping space to open. In order to wait for one of the available spaces to open up, campers line up all day, and sometime the night before, with the hopes of getting a camping space. This system is inefficient and has contributed to wildlife issues due to improper food storage, out of bounds camping, and conflicts between campers.

To help resolve these issues, Yosemite National Park is going to test a new pilot program from late May to early September, using a daily lottery system similar to the Half Dome daily lottery. Visitors interested in staying at Camp 4 will enter a daily lottery managed by The lottery opens at 12:01 am pacific time the day before your intended arrival date. The lottery is open until 4:00 pm pacific time. The lottery automatically matches applicants with the number of open camping spaces. All people who enter the daily lottery will be notified by email on the results of their lottery application.

This new pilot program will run through the busy summer season and will be evaluated fall 2019.

Re: Yosemite - Camp 4 changes

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:18 pm
by Wandering Daisy
What is the plan for off-season? If I go mid-winter and half the sites are empty, do I still have to get in the lottery? Also, I assume Reserve America will charge their $7 fee just to get in the lottery. I really do not see the detailed mechanics on how we use this. And what happens when a site is empty but someone "won" the lottery and simply did not show up? Is there a cut-off time to register, whereupon someone else gets the site. Is there a "waiting list"? With the other reserve campgrounds, you can at least sign up on a waiting list and if there is a no-show, you get a site. How do you prevent "hording" of sites? Is there going to be a ranger checking if sites are utilized?

Re: Yosemite - Camp 4 changes

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:52 am
by gary c.
I haven't tried the current system so I really don't know how bad it was but I can see where they would want/need to disperse the crowds. Another thought I had was that many many more will try the lotery that wouldn't have driven up to the valley. Might make things kind of hard on the regulars that I assume might have been working the current system to have extended stays in the valley like the climbers.

Re: Yosemite - Camp 4 changes

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:13 pm
by Wandering Daisy
I have used the current system off-season and could even walk in mid-afternoon and get a site. When climbers arrive usually late April, (big walls need to dry out a bit) there was a line, but I never saw any bad behavior or people illegally camping. Many of the climbers actually left on the weekend which was great because it freed up sites for us weekenders. When it becomes too hot to climb, then the regular tourists take over the sites. When things cool down, usually mid sept- Oct, then climbers again flock the valley. I used to go up the week before Christmas and the campground was mostly empty. I am sure there are times when it gets bad like described, but I do think they are over-stating this problem. It certainly is NOT a year-round problem.

I no longer use Camp 4 much, so it does not directly impact me. I live close enough I can drive down and backpack in the same day. And my climbing days are long over. It is pretty amazing what I can actually do in one day. Once a friend and I drove down, hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls, and drove back in a day.

In my opinion, cars are more of a problem than people. If you could reduce vehicles, you could covert some of the areas used for parking to campsites. Camping IN the valley is a wonderful experience and I would hate to see Yosemite Valley day-use only for most of us who cannot afford the over-priced commercial lodging. But I am afraid that it is going that direction, because they keep eliminating campground capacity.

I hope part of the "experimental" phase also includes gathering data on who camps (locals, vs farther US climbers/campers vs International). Also an actual count of who really stays overnight in the campsites, vs empty tents as "place holders". I would hope that if some of the off-season had plenty of empty sites, they would only use the new method when needed.