Last Mother’s Day, we experienced Yosemite for the first time with the Logans, my cousin from Las Vegas & his family. We had done a lot of research about where to stay and finally decided on Housekeeping Camp. It’s location is central to everything in Yosemite Valley and is right on the Merced River with an amazing view of Half Dome & Yosemite Falls. Housekeeping Camp is a really popular place to stay so I suggest booking a cabin as soon as you decide to head to Yosemite. They allow you to book up to 12 months in advance from the website.
Housekeeping Camp has 266 units that sleep up to 6 people. There’s basically 3 concrete walls, concrete floor, a canvas roof, and a curtain door. Each unit has a fenced patio with a cooking/prepping table, electrical outlets, picnic table, and a bear locker for food storage. Housekeeping camp is the only campsite in Yosemite Valley that has fire rings and allows campfires. BTW…it is important to purchase local firewood when you arrive because wood can carry insects & disease that could threaten the health of Yosemite’s environment. You also want to be aware that collecting firewood around Housekeeping Camp is against the law. Rangers regularly monitor the campgrounds and it’s just a bad idea.
Housekeeping camp has a camp store, shower house, laundromat, and free parking. There are sandy beaches where you can relax & enjoy the view, try your hand at fishing, or go for a swim (if it’s warm enough).
Inside each unit, there is a full size bed, twin bunk beds, shelves and an electrical outlet. Housekeeping camp does not provide any pillows, sheets, blankets, etc. but you can rent them from the camp store if necessary. When we went in May, we definitely underestimated how cold it was going to be and needed to rent extra wool blankets to keep warm. We did bring our own sheets to cover the cot style mattresses, pillows, and sleeping bags.
At the time, Kasia was still sleeping in a Pack & Play and there was plenty of room to set that up in the middle of the unit. We brought a space heater to help her stay warm in the night but the 30 degree draft coming through the bottom of the curtain door kept her up the first couple nights. Herbie managed to duct tape the curtains shut and we lined our bags along the ground to keep the draft out which helped the remainder of the time we stayed at Housekeeping Camp. Did I mention you share a wall with another unit? So we totally kept the Logan Family up the first 2 nights with Kasia’s screaming…sorry guys! Luckily, it warmed up a little after that and we all slept peacefully.
We created a menu with the Logan Family to split up the cooking responsibilities. We brought our camp stove and BBQ to cook the meals. There’s plenty of room in the patio to set up a cooking station. When planning meals, it’s important not to over pack and bring things that won’t fit in the bear lockers (especially over-sized coolers). Everything that you bring to Yosemite that has a scent, such as shampoo, cosmetics, & cooking utensils, have to be stored in the locker along with your cooler and food. Black bears are incredibly intelligent and will break into your room or car if they see or smell anything interesting. It’s estimated that 100 cars get broken into every year in Yosemite.
Biking is probably the best way to travel in Yosemite. The bike paths will take you to all the major trailheads and you can see the local wildlife without disturbing them. This is really an amazing way to see a large amount of the Valley & it’s amazing scenery. We brought our bike trailer so Kingston & Kasia could enjoy the view while being towed by Daddy.
If biking isn’t your thing, Yosemite has a great shuttle system with drop off locations all throughout the Valley. There is a shuttle stop right in front of Housekeeping camp for added convenience.
Housekeeping Camp has ample restrooms scattered throughout the campground. No matter where your unit is located, you will have a restroom close by. The staff maintains the restrooms regularly and they always seemed to be clean. Housekeeping Camp has a shower house that is located near the entrance. It was a little bit of a walk from our site so we chose to ride our bikes there. When you first arrive, the staff will give you a shower voucher that allows you to check out towels when you go in for a shower.
The price has definitely increased since we stayed at Housekeeping Camp last year. The rate is currently at $112 per night but you can check the current prices online.
- Campers will bring all sorts of fun decorations to personalize their units. We chose to hang Christmas lights on the patio fence. Not only does this add some character to an otherwise simple camp, it also provides a visual landmark to to identify your camp at night.
- The best time of year to visit Housekeeping Camp is between May and June. This is when the snowpack is melting and the rivers, streams, and waterfalls are flowing at their peak. The view of Yosemite Falls from Housekeeping Camp is extraordinary. This is also a good window to visit because the tourist activity will peak around the 4th of July, adding to the traffic and congestion within the park. The weather is unpredictable during this time so you need to be prepared for both cold & warm temperatures.
- If it happens to rain while you’re in Yosemite, which it did for us along with some snow, check out the “Spirit of Yosemite” film that is shown every 30 minutes in the Yosemite Theatre. It was entertaining and incredibly informative. It might also be a great thing to check out on your first day in Yosemite to get some history before you explore.
- Don’t be fooled by the cute squirrels with the fluffy tails hanging around your campsite. They are not shy and will steal anything & everything you leave unattended. Never leave your bear locker open because the squirrels will take whatever they can. If you leave trash bags hanging around, they will definitely chew a hole through it and leave you with one nasty mess.
Visiting Yosemite Valley was probably one of our more memorable trips that we’ve taken as a family, to date. I left feeling like I didn’t have enough time to see everything I wanted to see even though we were there for 5 days. We are already trying to plan another trip up to Yosemite since it will be a whole new experience with the kids being a little older. When we finally decide to make the trip again we will definitely be staying at Housekeeping Camp.