Mariposa County, California

Camp at Glacier Point

9.4 Miles Total - 3200 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Sarah Vaughn

Get breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome. And most importantly, bring your tent and get Glacier Point all to yourself.

Everyone that knows Yosemite, knows Glacier Point. An overlook that attracts thousands of people per day that drive up via Glacier Point Road is rarely vacant of the hustle and bustle of people. However, there is a loop hole here, and when the stars align you can have Glacier Point ALL to yourself as your campground. Of course you can always cross-country ski to the point and camp, but if weather allows during the winter season, trails leading to Glacier Point will open, and park rangers issue wilderness permits to camp there.

Four Mile Trail and the Mist Trail are typically closed in the winter, but every now and then they will be open, and so will your chance to camp at this sought after spot. We visited the park in March when it is typically snow covered and found ourselves with much more hiking trails open. So we decided to jump on this opportunity. We started at the Four Mile Trailhead. This trail can definitely be strenuous, especially with carrying packs. It is 4.7 miles to Glacier Point from here, with about 3,200ft elevation gain. Although it may get your heart pumping it will also give you fantastic views of Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. A few little glimpses of Half Dome will keep popping through getting you pumped for what you will be seeing at Glacier Point. Finally, you will triumphantly reach the top and be rewarded with breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome itself. The park rangers will let you know you can set up camp anywhere as long as it is 100yds away from any trail. If climbers are out you will probably be able to see their headlamps climbing up the west face of Half Dome via Snake Dike.

After a lovely night under the stars, you will want to think about what route to take down. Going back down Four Mile is an option but can be really rough on the knees. Another option that will show you a bit more of the park is taking the Panorama Trail down to the Mist Trail and ending at Happy Isles where you can take a shuttle close to the Four Mile Trailhead. This option is about 8-9 miles depending how much you venture off, and is a little easier on your knees (at least until you reach the Mist Trail descending 1,900ft in about 3.5 miles). Taking this way will bring you by some of the parks gems such as Illilouette Falls, Nevada Fall, and Vernal Falls.

Lastly, you will arrive at Happy Isles. Again, you can take the shuttle to the edge of the Valley towards the Four Mile Trailhead, or if you are feeling hungry stop by Curry Village Pizza Patio for some well deserved pizza and beers in the heart of Yosemite Valley.

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Perfect Overnight Trip!

On Dec. 31, 2017 my fiance and I picked up our permits from the ranger station (I heard the rangers started denying campers permits later in the day) and headed out on the Four Mile Trailhead with a plan to camp at Glacier Point and then head down the Panorama to Mist Trail the following day/year. Since the winter had been so dry there was no snow or ice on the trail. Only 3 other groups were camping near the point and we all spread out so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We watched the last sunset of 2017 and the first sunrise of 2018 in solitude and it couldn't have been more perfect!

Views so good from your tent you might never get up!

With a 90" base it was true winter camping this season. Dig yourself a snowpit and relax with one of the best tent views in the park. We spent a couple nights here and you'll never really get over how good the view is.

Takes your breath away

Camping here in the winter is a well-kept secret! Normally it falls within Yosemite's no camping zone (within 4 miles of a developed area), but in the winter, Glacier Point Road closes and the area converts back to wilderness. As mentioned, there's trails leading to Glacier Point from the Valley that might be closed in the off-season. If so, you can hike or snowshoe longer mileage from the Glacier Point Road area. Can't wait to get back out here! Literally breathtaking views of the night sky.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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