Camp 4 (Yosemite)
|Location||Northside Dr., Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, California|
|Area||11 acres (4.5 ha)|
|NRHP reference No.||03000056|
|Added to NRHP||February 21, 2003|
Camp 4 is a campground in Yosemite National Park. It became notable after World War II as the hangout for rock climbers with many spending months there—not necessarily legally. It is located near Yosemite Falls, on the north side of the valley. There is a single parking lot at the campground, and no driveways connecting to individual campsites, so visitors must carry their gear in. Nearby boulders have long been used for bouldering. Among the boulders located here, the Columbia Boulder is probably the most famous. On it is the boulder problem called the Midnight Lightning first done by Ron Kauk in 1978. It is easily recognizable by a painting of a white thunderbolt next to it.
Physically unimpressive, Camp 4 was nevertheless a center of rock climbing development during the middle of the 20th century. Dozens of the most famous climbers in the world congregated at Camp 4 for years, learning from each other and trying out new ideas on Yosemite walls such as Half Dome and El Capitan. Some, such as Yvon Chouinard, made and sold climbing equipment in the camp's parking lot, laying the foundation for successful businesses later.
Camp 4 was the site of ongoing friction between climbers and the National Park Service. The conflict came to a head in 1997, when flooding in Yosemite Valley destroyed many employee housing units. The Park Service decided to build a three-story dormitory complex at Camp 4, effectively eliminating the campground. Tom Frost financed and led the fight to save Camp 4, with help from attorney Richard Duane. Together, Frost and Duane filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service to save the historic rock climber campsite, and convinced the American Alpine Club to add their name to the list of plaintiffs. Climbers and mountaineering associations all over the world wrote letters in support, arguing that Camp 4 was one of the three most famous climbing base camps on earth, alongside Everest Basecamp and a similar site at Chamonix in the Alps. The effort was successful.
On February 21, 2003, Camp 4 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for "its significant association with the growth and development of rock climbing in the Yosemite Valley during the 'golden years' of pioneer mountaineering".
From 1971 to 1999, Camp 4 was officially known as Sunnyside Walk-in Campground, but has been since renamed Camp 4 in recognition of its historic status.
On June 14, 2012, the Superintendent of Yosemite National Park released a comprehensive rockfall hazard report for Yosemite Valley floor. The 96-page scientific report by an interdisciplinary team of geologists and rockfall-hazard specialists concludes that several campsites on the northern side of Camp 4 need to be relocated to achieve adequate safety for climbers.
Reservations and availability
Camp 4 does not offer traditional reservations at any time during the year, and the process for attaining a camping site differs depending on the season. In 2019, a lottery system was enacted for the peak season of late May through mid-September. Only those applications successfully drawn in the lottery are assigned campsites during the lottery period. Outside of the daily lottery window (i.e. from late September through mid-May), site assignments are first-come, first-served. In spring and fall, a line of those wishing to camp here typically forms at the campground kiosk early in the morning.
A total of 36 sites are available daily, each accommodating a maximum of six people (i.e., 216 spots total) at a cost of US$6 per person per night. Notably, the Park Service has imposed a 30-night camping limit within Yosemite National Park per calendar year; however, from 1 May to 15 September, the camping limit in Yosemite is 14 nights, with only seven of those nights allowed in Yosemite Valley or Wawona. Because of the popularity of the camp, the relatively small number of camp sites, and the lack of reservation availability, it can be difficult to be able to camp at this campground, except for the winter season, which is less busy.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Yosemite National Park
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Mariposa County, California
- "Registration Form". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2002-06-18.
- "Camp 4 Listed With National Register of Historic Place" (Press release). National Park Service. 2006-02-27. Archived from the original on 2006-06-16. Retrieved 2006-07-10.
- Stock, Greg M.; Luco, Nicolas; Collins, Brian D.; Harp, Edwin L.; Reichenbach, Paola; Frankel, Kurt L. (April 2012). "Quantitative rock-fall hazard and risk assessment for Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California" (PDF). Yosemite National Park Division of Resources Management and Science. USGS. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
- "Camp 4". 2019-09-02. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
- Kirk, Andrew and Charles Palmer, "When Nature Becomes Culture: The National Register and Yosemite's Camp 4," Western Historical Quarterly (Fall 2006)
- Roper, Steve (1994). Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber. Seattle, WA: Mountaineers Books. ISBN 0-89886-381-3. An earlier edition was titled simply Camp 4 (1994, ISBN 1-898573-10-7)
- Reid, Don (1992). Camp 4 - bouldering guide: Sunnyside Campground, Yosemite National Park. Don Reid.
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