Yosemite on the Level: Crane Flat

Visitors often focus on the heights to which Yosemite goes with its water and mountains, but the flats are important spaces for a large population of camping visitors to Yosemite National Park. Crane Flat Campground on Big Oak Flat Road is just 17 miles from the Yosemite Valley, making it a popular and convenient set up.

With an altitude of 6,200 feet, Crane Flat’s floating season runs from July to September. Estimated dates for the current year can be viewed on the website. Fees are moderate, pets are allowed, and facilities are solid. Fire rings, picnic tables, and food lockers comfort each site. Bathrooms, drinking water, and flush toilets are nearby. A grocery supplies basic needs, and a dump station is accessible, but showers require a trip to Curry Village or Housekeeping Camp in the Yosemite Valley.

Reservations are important, sometimes requiring a five month advance application. Crane Flat’s 166 sites accommodate some sizeable creatures, including 35-foot RVs, 27-foot trailers, and wheelchairs, as well, on sites 423 and 427.

Summer access to hiking trails is a cinch since Crane Flat puts campers right at Tioga Road. Enhanced by stops at Tuolumne Grove and Tuolumne Meadows, Tenaya and Mono Lakes, and Tioga Pass, the scenic drive along Tioga Road remains a huge draw.

In days of yore half of Crane Flat’s campsites were available on a first come, first served basis, but that is no longer the case. Reservations are the word of the day here, with emphasis on early application. The easy accessibility, proximity to the hub of the park, and variety of campsite options make this one of the most sought after spots for park visitors intending to car camp, tent camp, and live it up in an RV. Some sites are quite hilly, so if you’re piloting a behemoth and prefer something a bit flatter, choose a site in the 200 or 300 loop sections.