Yosemite National Park's largest campground, the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, is closed until 2024, or possibly 2025 for a massive rehabilitation project. Thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act, this $20 million dollar project will be targeting roads, restrooms, campsites, and the campgrounds water and sewer system. But the closure might throw a wrench in some hikers' plans.
The Tuolumne Meadows Campground is a common stop for John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail hikers because of the nearby Post Office, store, and grill. During a standard season, community is a great resupply point in a stretch of trail without many of them. But the Tuolumne Meadows Grill will be closed for the 2022 season, and hikers should expect modified Post Office and store operations as well.
Planning Around the Tuolumne Meadows Closure
During the closure, no camping will be permitted within the Campground. Hikers should plan to camp four miles north or south of Highway 120. When open, Tioga Road could provide alternative lodging options to hikers.
Northbound hikers may want to plan to bypass a Tuolumne Meadows resupply for Kennedy Meadows or Bridgeport. That will take some careful planning: Nearly 75 miles stand between Tuolumne Meadows and Kennedy Meadows. Southbound hikers should plan to hit up Mammoth Lake, which is about 36 miles south of Tuolumne Meadows or 110 miles from Kennedy Meadows.
If you choose to visit Tuolumne, keep in mind that the local businesses have a weather-dependent opening date that has yet to be determined. Operations typically begin in the late Spring. The clearing of Tioga Road generally begins in mid-April, making it accessible in May or June, depending on the snow year. Nearby hotel options like the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge are expected to be open in June of this year.
The Tuolumne Meadows Campground is Yosemite's largest campground, hosting over 150,000 visitors each year. It's a 140-acre campground with 304 drive-in sites, 21 backpacker sites, 7 group sites, and 4 horse sites. The campground is about an hour and a half drive from Yosemite Valley.
As part of the campground's rehabilitation efforts, the National Park Service will build two additional restrooms, food lockers, picnic tables, and fire rings, and will relocate the backpacker's camp to the John Muir Trail trailhead.
Construction for the original Tuolumne Meadows Campground began in 1931, and it expanded again in 1960. This season's efforts will be providing the campground with much-needed maintenance.