The whole point of staying active and tracking your wellness is to be able to do fun things. Exploring new and beautiful places is top of that list. Recently we explored Yosemite Valley, complete with a stay at Curry Village. Getting a reservation for the village can be a bit tough in high season, but the rates are reasonable and it is a nice medium between full fledged camping and the high prices of the lodges and hotels in the valley.
Curry Village is a fantastic spot for staying in the valley and combines a bit of camping with the ease of basic amenities. The setting in best known for the canvas sided tent cabins, with beds, linens, and powered lights, are just enough structure to avoid the hassle of carrying in and setting up a tent while still “camping” in the Valley. Still, there are a few things to remember to make the trip easier (including one that is really important if you want your fitness trackers to work for the whole trip!).
Check out our list of tips to remember when camping in Curry Village (formerly Half Dome Village) in Yosemite National Park. If you are making the trip and plan to also go somewhere other than Yosemite, California has some amazing state park camping. Check out our tips on reserving the best camp sites in California via ReserveCalifornia.com.
1. Curry Village Tents Review – Leave the Tent, Bring the Blankets
Each of the tents in Curry Village is referred to as a cabin tent. These are a hybrid style tent that are semi-permanent but still provide plenty of the mystic of actual camping. Tents in the village are outfitted fit a simple metal shelf, a single light source (with a pull string switch) hanging over head, and made beds. The bed configuration can vary, from bunkbeds to a queen size, but is generally comfortable. Beds come with linens, sheets, pillows, and a small blanket. In colder weather you will want to supplement with additional warm gear so bring extra blankets.
Tents in Curry Village do not have electrical outlets in them for charging anything. If you want to charge a device in your tent you will need to bring an external power source. There are banks of electrical outlets in the lodge and a few in the bathrooms as well for quick charges.
Each of the tents sits on a small wood platform which serves as the foundation. When we have visited the floors all looked to be in good shape with no holes in them down to the elements. At the same time it is important to know that the tents are not impenetrable by wildlife. There are signs over the bed warning you to adhere to the rules of not taking food into the tent, as this helps drastically to keep out the larger critters or even bears.
2. Bring Camp Chairs
The camp sites at Curry Village are just a tent. If you get lucky there may be a boulder or tree stump nearby that can double as a table, but otherwise there is no where to hand out close to your tent.
A couple camp chairs and a folding table solve this problem quickly. Food is not allowed in the tents, to avoid animals getting in, so having a place to sit and eat is helpful to add to the environment. Folding chairs, camping tables, and similar gear allows you to build a short term front porch to your tent without encroaching on the space of others.
3. Reserve Bikes in Curry Village
The Yosemite Valley is relatively flat with plenty of rideable paths. When shuttles are at capacity or you just want to get around camp, pedaling is efficient and fun. If you don’t plan to bring bikes they can be rented from a few spots in the valley (and returned to others). Make sure to get an advanced reservation though as they will run out on the day of.
There is an on-site bike rental near the Curry Village parking lot and main lodge. On most days the bikes will be booked up, but in the afternoons you may still be able to grab a bike as ones get returned to the corral. The last bike rental is at 4:45 and must be returned an hour later at 5:45 so if you want to get in a evening ride it is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity.
4. Consider Bringing A Padlock for The Bear Box
The Curry Village website has a packing list. Most are obvious things for camping but a few are specific to the location. If you are missing the padlock, don’t fret. This is for a bearbox, where food is to be kept. While having one is nice, it is not a necessity.
The handle design on the bearbox is such that bears can’t open them so the padlock is just to keep other humans out. For the most part campers in Curry are respectful, so there is no need. Having to lock and unlock the padlock regularly to grab snacks and toiletries is annoying. If you have valuables you may still want it since the in room safes are turned off so the bear box is the best place to keep valuables.
5. Research the Curry Village Showers & Bring the Flip Flops
Don’t forget flip flops or sandals either. They are mainly for the showers, but have added benefits. After a long day of hiking it’s nice to let your feet have some rest. Flip flop for strolling to the Pizza Patio or dinner will feel much better than an extra half mile packed into your sweaty hiking shoes.
Curry Village Showers are communal but nice. There are 3 major shower houses spread around the campsite, and a fourth at the pool area of Curry. There are two types of showers available, the first of private family rooms showers. These typically will be harder to get or have a short informal line but are nicer if you need the privacy especially with kids.
The second type are shower rooms that have independent shower stalls. Stalls themselves have simple doors with “locks” on them, similar to most public restrooms. All showers have soap and shampoo dispensers that are restocked regularly. When we visited the water temperature was fine and showers felt great after a long day covered in sweat, sunscreen, and dirt.
6. Pack a Powerbrick
Does Curry Village have power in the tent? Yes, there is a light, but there is no where in a tent to plug something in. The bathrooms have outlets and handy shelves where you can leave a charging device, and the dining hall has charging sections near walls that are packed with outlets.
Still, if you want to charge a watch or phone at night you’ll need an traveling power bank. These are great to have in general when being outdoors, but are especially nice to avoid having to leave your phone in a public bathroom to charge!
7. Use Easy Carry Bags (Not Suitcases)
Most of the tents at Curry Village are accessible by dirt trails with plenty of roots and rocks. Also, if you can find a packing space, it is often a trek from your campsite. Having easy to carry bags makes moving in and leaving camp way easier.
Backpacks are the best options, and come in handy when you need an extra one for a hike. Avoid bulky suitcases, although smaller rolling bags that can be carried in a pinch will be fine. Bulky bags are also hard to access and store in the tight quarters of a tent.
8. Bring A Quiet Alarm and A Morning Spirit
Sound carries in the quiet of camp and there is little more annoying than having a neighbor who is loud. A silent alarm, like a vibrating Apple Watch, is a more respectful way to get up in the morning.
You will also want to be up early. The valley is busy, and shuttles and hikes fill up at the common 8-9am slot. Getting even a slightly early start changes how accessible most destinations will be. For example, the hike up Vernal falls was recently nearly empty for those starting at 7:30am, but the return trip at 9:30 was packed alone the stairs of the Mist Trail. Get up early and enjoy the nature before crowds and heat take over.
9. Charge The Car & Everything Else
Just like the power bank helps power small devices, many cars need power. Taking an EV or Tesla into Yosemite is a great idea, it fits will with the low impact ideals to leave no trace.
For Tesla charging in Yosemite Park you want to charge before arriving since there are no Superchargers in the park. There are however stops just outside the gates at Tenaya Lodge I think he south and Groveland via the West/North (Coming from San Francisco) route.
For other EVs, and in a pinch Teslas, there are a few chargers in Tosemite Valley. The easiest access ones are in the parking lot at Yosemite Lodge. There is also a destination charger at the Alwahnee hotel, but it is supposedly limited to guests staying at the hotel.
10. Bring Binoculars or Zoom Lenses
Having any ability to zoom in is great in Curry Village. From camp or the meadow near camp you can see specks of climbers of the big walls, hikers atop trails, and wildlife at a safe distance. With the scale of the walls and space having binoculars will help provide some context on how big things really are.