Hike to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp

It had been a while since I hiked Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, but I had fond memories of this beautiful camp nestled against high peaks. Closed for a few years, I needed to pay him another visit.

Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 15.8 miles (approximately 14.2 miles from the trailhead at Tuolumne Meadows Campground)
Elevation range: 8 588 ′ – 10 128 ′
Elevation gain: 1,538 ′
Date: September 15, 2021
CALTOPO: HSC hike from Vogelsang
Canine hiking? No

Just returned from the campsite at Tuolumne Meadows, the last week of the season it was open. It was a good base camp to do a few hikes in the comfort of my campsite without going through the many road constructions each day. Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located along Tioga Road, approximately 8 miles east of the Tioga Pass Entrance Station to Yosemite National Park. Reservations are required and any time they reopen they can be made here.

Many years ago I hiked the High Sierra Camp Loop but it has been closed for several years. I don’t know if it will reopen next summer but the lottery schedule for these prime spots is coming soon (more info at the end of the blog).

My hike started at the trailhead accessible from the east side of Tuolumne Meadows Campground. When the campsite is closed you can walk through it to reach the trailhead, following the signs, but I have also included a map at the end of the blog. You can also access the trail from the Dog Lake parking lot. To get to the Dog Lake parking area, turn towards the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, which is just east of Tuolumne Meadows itself. Once on the road to the lodge, stop at the Dog Lake parking lot (there is another parking lot for Dog Lake on Tioga Road itself, but not the one you are looking for now). From there, walk a few hundred yards further up the road to the main car park at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. You will find the trailhead near the southwest corner of this parking lot. If that’s not confusing enough they are building in this area so you might need to flex where you could park.

I started to climb the trail early.

I followed the signs for Vogelsang HSC, going up the John Muir Trail, then the Rafferty Creek Trail. BTW, the name Rafferty comes from Captain Ogden Rafferty (1860-1922), US Army Medical Corps, by Lieutenant McClure in 1895 when Rafferty accompanied him on patrol in the park. Rafferty Peak (11,120 ′) is on the west side of the trail.

For about a mile and a half the trail climbed, the trail built of pebbles and boulders of granite.

The trail started to level its ascent, not level but not so much in the upper part.

The trail led me through golden meadows.

Then the trail led me through the trees.

Then larger meadows.

The trail split with the right fork heading towards Booth Lake and down to Merced Lake. I took the fork to the left, following the signs for Vogelsang HSC.

Sunlight showed the yellow colors of fall as I walked up the trail.

I sighted Boothe Lake, named after Clyde Boothe, a YNP ranger from 1915 to 1927. (Bingaman, Guardians, 93-94.) The lake was once the site of Camp Boothe Lake High Sierra – which was later moved half a century. mile and renamed “Vogelsang. “

Even with a little smoke, Vogelsang Peak provides a nice backdrop to Vogelsang HSC. The peak was named by Colonel HC Benson in 1907 and there are some possibilities for the origin of the name. The summit was named in honor of one of the two brothers, either Charles A Vogelsang, a member of the board of the California’s State Fish and Game Commission from 1896 to 1901, or his brother Alexander Theodore Vogelsang, who was president. of the California State Board of Fish and Game. from 1901 to 1910. The German word “vogelsang” can be translated as “a meadow where the birds sing”.

Yosemite National Park has five High Sierra Historic Camps including Glen Aulin, May Lake, Sunrise, Merced Lake, and Vogelsang. The camps are spaced 6-10 miles apart along a loop trail and provide tents, meals and some have showers. You can take a guided hike or saddle excursion, or you can guide yourself while hiking between camps. You can choose to stay in the tented cabins or if you are hiking the area you can plan ahead to enjoy a hot meal. These are very popular and you sign up for a lottery. Given that things have been so strange lately with COVID impacting bookings, I can only share how it is normally done. On their website, the 2022 Lottery is scheduled for October 1-31, 2021. The High Sierra Camp Lottery app will be available on their website only. If you are interested I suggest you call them at 888-413-8869 and select option 4. If I receive any updated information I will try to update this blog with them.

Sierra Nevada geotourism:

The Vogelsang Backpacker Camp was originally built in 1924 along Booth Lake. This location proved unsuccessful due to poor drainage, difficulty in water supply and an overabundance of mosquitoes. The camp moved to a site near the Tuolumne Pass in the early 1930s. Finally, in 1940, the camp moved to its present location at the base of Fletcher Peak.

Located by a creek near Fletcher Lake, Vogelsang is often referred to as Yosemite’s favorite spot by many seasoned visitors. It truly is an alpine setting at the highest elevation of any camp with peaks, lakes, meadows and vistas nearby. Vogelsang is at the foot of Fletcher Peak and famous for its intense sunset. Many alpine lakes in the region offer excellent hiking and fishing opportunities. Day trip destinations include Evelyn and Ireland Lakes, Booth Lake, Emeric Lake, and Vogelsang Lake, Pass and Peak.

All accommodation at High Sierra Camp is in canvas tents with dormitory-style steel-framed beds with mattresses, pillows, woolen blankets or quilts. In order to maximize the number of people who can enjoy High Camps, we do our best to fill all the beds. Staff try to keep members of a group in the same tent (s), but sometimes it is necessary to divide a group.

A satisfying dinner and breakfast is served family-style in a main dining tent as you meet and compare your grades with other High Sierra Camp accommodation guests. Every effort is made to meet prior requests due to dietary restrictions such as food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets. Lunch bags, which must be ordered the day before their use, can also be purchased at each camp.

In 2004 a group of us did the High Sierra Camp Loop and a big thank you to Gail Gilbert for digging up the photo of us at Camp Vogelsang High Sierra. It’s me on the left and Gail on the right.

2004 Gail

Camp of the high Sierra of Vogelsang 2004

On my recent hike the camp looked very different as it has been closed since 2018. How do I know? Well I thought it would be fun to stay in Vogelsang again and entered the 2018 lottery for the stay, successfully but it ultimately didn’t open in 2019 due to a high snowpack , lack of access to water for bathrooms and kitchens and other infrastructure. I postponed my reservation from 2019 to 2020 and it was canceled by Yosemite National Park due to the impacts of COVID-19. So I postponed my reservation to 2021, same COVID-19 closure. I then postponed my reservation until 2022 and I hope things will work out next year.

Since Vogelsang High Sierra camp has been closed for several years, it seemed a bit difficult when I visited. But I sat on the concrete and had lunch taking in the views, dreaming of what day I would hike the next time I was there.

I came back down the same way I had gone up.

Canine hiking?

No, dogs are not allowed in the wilderness of Yosemite National Park.


What is a doarama? This is a video playback of the GPS track superimposed on an interactive 3-dimensional map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt or rotate it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Vogelsang HSC Doarama

Card and profile:

CALTOPO offers free options for mapping and here’s a link to my hike this week, which you can check out or download: CALTOPO: Vogelsang HSC Hike

Topographic map from Tuolumne Meadows to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp

Profile of Tuolumne Meadows Camp at Vogelsang High Sierra

Map of Tuolumne Meadows Campground with Lyell Canyon Trailhead at Vogelsang noted (Yosemite National Park)


Tuolumne Meadows Campground

Yosemite High Sierra Camps

Wikipedia of Vogelsang Peak

Vogelsang High Sierra Camp Yosemite

Vogelsang High Sierra Camp Sierra Nevada Geotourism

Volegsang High Sierra Camp Wikipedia

Camp Vogelsang High Sierra National Register of Historic Places

Yosemite National Park Vogelsang Digital Archive

Browning, Pierre, Yosemite place names, Great West Books, Lafayette California, 1988

Previous blogs in this area:

Tuolumne Meadows at Boothe Lake on horseback July 26, 2015

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