The Ellery Lake Campground outside of the east entrance of Yosemite is one of the nicest in the area. You will definitely enjoy camping here, if you can get yourself a space. There are only 12 to 14 if I recall correctly, and they are generally taken if you get here too late in the day.
The campground has limited amenities. There are generally tables in your campsite, a fire ring, and a bear box. I have been here on more than one occasion and have never seen a bear, but use the boxes regardless to store food and trash if you haven't taken it to the secure garbage cans.
The fees were $20 when I was coming here, but I think they have raised that to $22. It is self serve and you will need cash so make sure you have some, or you can hit an ATM down the road at the small town north of Mono Lake. There are no showers here, but hey you are camping, enjoy the freedom.!
This place is perfect for Hammock usage.! Either in your camp or walk south towards the Lake and you can find many trees that are perfect for stinging up between. Funny story, I had my Eno Double nest for about 3 years before ever using it and Ellery lake is the first place I ever did. Don't ask me why, I brought the hammock all over the world with me. To Hawaii, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and for whatever reason, never strung it up.! Until Ellery. I used the small ropes that came with the hammock and tied it up, thinking it was good. Slid myself into the hammock and within about a half a second was on the ground.! The ropes completely slid out from my horrible knot and let loose from the tree. Lesson learned. I re tied and was good to go, but after I got home from the trip, I headed to my local REI and picked up some of the Atlas XL straps from Eno and these things are so much nicer to use in general, and are basically dummy proof.!
This Campground is nicely situated between Yosemite and Mono Lake, so going to either or both is easily achieved. You may want to get a spot inside of Yosemite if you are planing on doing a lot of activities within the park. It can become slow going to and from Yosemite Valley when staying this far out. It isn't a whole lot of mileage, but speed limits are always slow, for good reason, in National parks and it will take a while getting to and from the Ellery lake campground.
The night sky is amazing up here. You are at a very high elevation, so you get very clear air with great visibility and you are far enough away from major cities that Light pollution is pretty minimal. If you are into astronomy and have any gear, Definitely bring it. A small telescope or even good binoculars will give you some incredible views up here. I was just sky scanning and finding start clusters all over the place you wouldn't normally see near large cities. The milky way is very noticeable, and finding deep sky objects like the Andromeda Galaxy and others are much more apparent from here. There are so many stars, it is almost difficult to "star hop" since you see so many more stars, the prominent ones you are use to seeing in lower quality sky get lost in the sea of stars you will see up here.
Here is a funny and somewhat embarrassing story. Like usual, I was somehow rushing to get packed before starting this trip, even though I had pre planned it and had time to pack in advance, but work somehow always gets in the way of making a road trip start off smoothly. The first night I went to unpack all my astronomy gear, I unload everything, get my somewhat large iOptron CEM60 mount setup, polar aligned, and attach my Celestron EdgeHD800 telescope. I put the Star Diagonal in, and get ready to see my first awesome view of this night sky, and I can't seem to find my pelican case with the eyepieces.! I look all over only to realize that particular case is at home in the closet still! I try to think of what I can do to salvage this and see I have my 2" t-mount adapter that allows me to attach my camera to the scope, so I put that into the scope only to find out I don't have the actual t mount adapter that goes onto the camera body to mate the camera to the other adapter.! So I have all this great gear setup and can't use any of it because of a 12$ piece of metal that is 5 hours south in Santa Monica. All was not lost, I still had my large Oberwerks 27x100 astronomy Binoculars to use, but this just shows why packing in a hurry is never a good idea. It was bad enough I wasn't able to use all this telescope gear here at Ellery lake. The worse thing was this was the first stop on a 3 week road-trip on which I had planned on using the gear and would not be able to use any of it for the entire trip! Unless I found a store that sold eyepieces along the way, but I really did not want to spend money on eyepieces, they are not cheap for quality pieces.! The telescope gear takes up a lot of cargo space as well, so I had a bunch of large wheeled containers just taking up space in my car. I did NOT forget the eyepiece case the next time I came up to Ellery and did finally get to see some amazing sites in this super dark sky.Here is a map so you can see where the campground is Thanks for Reading
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