It is very difficult to get camping or lodging reservations from spring through fall and during holiday periods all year. If you think you're doing something wrong because you can't find a reservation, you're probably not doing anything wrong. Most likely, there are just no more reservations available.
What do I do now?
The good news is that people cancel reservations frequently. If you're very persistent at checking recreation.gov, you may find a cancellation that you can reserve. The best way to search is to search for the first night you want to camp and just search for one night at a time. Once you've chosen the arrival and departure dates, choose the "date range availability" option to see the first night (and several subsequent nights). You'll have to do this for each campground. From spring through fall, search Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines, Wawona, and Hodgdon Meadow. Starting in June or July (typically), also search Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows. (View a list of all campgrounds in Yosemite.)
There are also campgrounds outside Yosemite available on recreation.gov (these will also show up when you search for Yosemite). If you reserve one of those, be sure it's not too far away.
Camping without Reservations
Some campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis. During winter, these may fill on weekends and holidays. However, most first-come, first-served campgrounds don't open until June or July, so first-come, first-served camping may not be available starting from April through June or July. During this time, it's extremely risky to arrive at Yosemite without a reservation; you'll probably have to leave the park to sleep. Learn more about first-come, first-served campgrounds.
Sleeping in a Car or RV
Sleeping inside a vehicle is only allowed in campsites. You may not park your car or RV in a parking lot or along the side of the road and sleep overnight.
Cancellations for lodging are also common and become available in the morning. So, check Yosemite Hospitality's website every morning.
If you can't find lodging from Yosemite Hospitality, there are other lodging options inside and outside Yosemite. If you reserve lodging outside the park, be sure it's not too far away.
Last updated: May 1, 2019