Lodging Within Yosemite National Park

Lodging Within Yosemite National Park
Yosemite visitors are confronted with a bewildering array of choices for sleeping. Even those who have been to the park before will have to wade their way through name changes and new openings. Those with children in tow will have different priorities than honeymooners. How is one to choose?

The National Park Reservations Service lists thirty-three choices for Yosemite lodging, but the listing does not distinguish between lodgings within and without the park, or between those in the valley and those in other areas. Travelers who want an overview of the area would do well to plot out the drive and pick suitable accommodations along the way. For example, if one drives into the park from the southern entrance, one might plan a night in the Wawona area, a night or two in Yosemite Valley, and a night somewhere along Highway 120, which is the gateway to Tioga Pass and Tenaya Lake. This allows the visitor to sample the different regions over the course of a long weekend or a week. Of course, this itinerary could be reversed for those driving in from the northern or eastern entrances.

Yosemite Village contains the cluster of businesses catering to those who want to see Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the other attractions at the end of the loop connecting El Portal and Big Oak Flat Road. The three best-known accommodations here have all been recently renamed: Curry Village is now Half Dome Village, the Ahwahnee is now the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, and the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is now the Yosemite Valley Lodge. All of these places have been catering to travelers for many years: the Majestic, built in 1927, is considered the “grand dame” of hotels within the park, with prices to match. The Yosemite Valley Lodge is a good value for couples wishing to stay in a hotel; Half Dome Village, which offers tent cabins and shared bathrooms, is an excellent option for those seeking budget digs or those with small children who aren’t ready for full-on family camping.

South of the Village, those interested in the Mariposa Grove area who wish to stay within the park should look at the Big Trees Lodge. Nomenclature is again confusing: this hotel was originally known as the Wawona Lodge. History buffs will enjoy this residence, as the hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Built in 1876, the hotel is particularly beautiful during the winter. Those wanting more options in this area might also look in the hamlet of Fish Camp, which is only 15 miles away and just over the border from the park entrance.

The Tioga Pass area is the most undeveloped of all the areas within the park. The White Wolf Lodge and the Tuolomne Meadows Lodge both offer tent and yurt cabins. Please note that, due to high elevation and weather conditions (snow can be expected even during August!), these places are only open during the summer months, July to late September. Also, because of the distance from civilization, these accommodations are fairly expensive for what they offer. Outside of the park along Highway 120, there are bed-and-breakfasts, VRBO offerings, motels, and hotels in the rural communities of Lee Vining, Oak Flat, and Mariposa.

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