Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite holds a special place in my heart. This place is for my fellow glampers. Housekeeping units are partially exposed and have camping elements along with the extra comforts of electricity and beds. Located right next to the Merced River, it’s the perfect place to kick back and relax after a long day of hiking.
Each unit consists of a cement base and 3 walls, a canvas roof, and a canvas door closing (think tying a tent closed). Inside the unit you have one double bed and a bunk bed. If you only need the double bed, these bunk beds can be excellent storage space. You have an indoor light, outlet, set of shelves, and a mirror on the wall. Each unit comes with a semi-enclosed patio, which includes a picnic table, lights, more outlets, and some raised shelving for supplies and cooking appliances (hellooo electric coffee maker!). Outside your patio you have your own fire ring with grill. Bathrooms and showers are in separate shared facilities on-site.
Any unit in housekeeping is going to place you in a super cool tent cabin in the middle of Yosemite National Park. For units located on the inside of the camp, I recommend requesting to be located away from restrooms and trash bins if possible. These areas can be a bit noisy at night due to foot traffic. River units are available at a higher price and are located on the outside of the camp.
What to Pack
Wondering what to pack? Check out my Packing List for Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite
General Store and Facilities
There is a shop on site that sells camping essentials, first aid supplies, ice and firewood, an alcohol selection bordering on impressive for a campsite, and food essentials (in case you forgot the s’mores). Housekeeping has several shared bathroom facilities with a few stalls and a row of sinks and mirrors. There is also a men’s shower house and a women’s shower house. There are probably about 10-12 showers in each. Avoid peak times around 8-9am to ensure you have no issue finding an available shower. Major tip: Bring shower shoes or cheap flip flops to wear in the shower.
While these units are cleaned between visits, they remain exposed to the elements, so expect some dirt, dust, and occasional spiderwebs. Sweeping isn’t recommended, as there is a risk of hantavirus and we want to avoid kicking up any dust into the air. Hantavirus is caused by coming into contact with the droppings of mice who have the virus. I have never seen a mouse at housekeeping, but since there are signs posted about the virus, I’m sure they’re around. Either way, in case there happens to be some old mice droppings lying around, best to leave them be and not make them airborne. I recommend bringing a rug to put down inside the unit, and some cleaning spray and paper towels to clean any dust off the indoor and outdoor shelving.
All units share one wall. So there is a high chance you are going to hear your neighbors. I recommend ear plugs in case you get placed next to a loud snorer or a family with kids who wake up early. The camp’s rules and regulations list quiet hours from 10pm- 6am. The park is full of early risers, however, so expect to start hearing some hustle and bustle as soon as the sun comes up.
Having a unit partially exposed to the elements also means you are living among the wildlife who know the space better than you do. The campground squirrels are frequent visitors and provide free entertainment while they scurry through the campground.
Never leave food unattended in your patio. I once left a package of pastries sitting on my table while I turned my back. About a minute later, I turned around and there was a bold squirrel sitting on my pastries, feasting away through the torn open plastic. He managed to take a bite out of almost every pastry, leaving me only one or two untouched. I usually bring my own trash bags and hang them on the patio fence to keep the trash away from ground animals. This still isn’t enough to outwit the wildlife though. If they smell food (even in the trash), they will find it. I’ve seen squirrels pull mission-impossible moves and jump from heights down onto the bag and tear it open with their teeth, spilling the trash onto the floor for a quick feast of leftover scraps.
Similarly, I was once cooking after dark, and stepped away for about 10 minutes to clean my pans and dishes. When I came back there were two raccoons who had happily created a disaster scene of my trash. Needless to say I chased them away and spent a very long time cleaning up after the messy night bandits. Each unit has its own food storage container for storing any items that may attract wildlife.
I think one of the most unique things at Housekeeping is the ability to cook. Not only do you have your own personal fire ring with grill, you have picnic table and patio full of shelving and outlets. If you want to rough it, bring some hotdogs (or in my case, veggie dogs) and buns and some disposable condiments. You can also buy these things in the park if needed. If you’re weird like me and enjoy the challenge of cooking an entire meal in a campsite, bring the camp stove, the cooking gear, and go all out. If you bring a cooler, you can buy ice daily at the general store to keep your perishables fresh. You can also rent a camp stove from housekeeping, but there is no guarantee there will be any available. They sell propane, pots, and pans at the general store.
Cleaning Up Camp
Considering we’re sharing the space with wildlife, we need to be mindful of where we place our food. Keep it in containers (I usually bring a large plastic bin in which to store my food. Makes it easy to place it all back into the food storage container after use as well) or in sight at all times, keep your trash bags off the ground, and throw out your trash often. Funny note: If you leave a cold pan on your stove with some tiny bits of hash brown or bacon in it while you eat at your table, it’s guaranteed a squirrel is going to hop right in and help himself to the leftovers. Bring dish soap and a sponge, and be prepared for creative cleanup if you’re cooking with grease. There is only cold water at the central sinks.
- Lock up your valuables: I’ve never had anything stolen from my camp, but I also always lock up my valuables in my food storage locker if I’m going to be gone a while. Bring a combination lock if you want to do the same.
- Lock up that food: Unless you want bears and raccoons tearing up your camp, put that food in the locker. Lock up everything that looks and smells edible as well, like toothpaste and gum. I once had a squirrel sneak into my tent, get into my purse, and pull a little bottle of sugar-coated arnica pills out. I walked in on him and he dropped the pill bottle and ran. Raccoons are known to slip into units and rummage around for a moment before moving on. Don’t give them a reason to stay. True story: I’ve had a raccoon sneak into my unit in the middle of the night. I heard him rummaging next to me in the dark, so, terrified, I sat up and started yelling and trying to find my flashlight. I heard his little claws scamper across the cement floor on his way out. Lesson learned: I now use clothes pins or chip clips to seal that canvas closing shut, and I keep a flashlight near my pillow. This brings me to my last point:
- Flashlights! The camp gets dark after sunset, so bring some light for your evening activities and late night walks to the bathroom. Always keep one in your hiking gear too. You never know when you will get stuck out past dark.
Lights: This is part of the fun of staying at housekeeping! Since you have outlets, hanging up a couple strands of lights is super easy (an old strand of Christmas lights will do!). I recommend an extension cord as well. I usually hang up a strand around the outside of my patio walls, and one on the inside of the unit for some neutral internal lighting (the fluorescent light in there gets old pretty quick). For extra glamp vibes, bring some lanterns for ambience around your unit.
Rugs: Nobody wants to step out of bed and onto a cold, dirty floor. Lay down a rug as soon as you get there, so you can comfortably walk around without shoes when you’re inside. Sweeping isn’t recommended as there is a risk of hantavirus. A cute rug can save your health, comfort, and the look of your unit.
Bedding: Depending on the time of year in which you’re traveling, bring some bedding! Bare mattresses are provided in the unit, and while there are some scratchy blankets you can rent from the front office, you will be happier if you bring along a fitted sheet, pillows, and at least a comforter. In the winter time, load up those blankets plus some extra throws to keep you warm while sitting by the fire or picnic table.