Yosemite is full of ancient sequoia trees, towering granite cliffs, and booming waterfalls. It’s a destination for outdoor adventurers and professional rock climbers alike. Millions of visitors are stunned by the unparalleled biological and geological diversity that this park has to offer each year.
As California’s most-visited national park, Yosemite has no shortage of lodging options. From canvas tents to upscale hotels, you’ll find exactly what you want and need.
If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite, where you stay can have a big impact on your experience. Here are Autio’s favorite places to stay in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Located directly across from the iconic Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley Lodge is excellent for families and large groups. In addition to traditional rooms, several family and bunk rooms are perfect for the whole team.
What makes Yosemite Valley Lodge such a popular choice is its central location. On top of its proximity to one of Yosemite’s best hikes at Yosemite Falls, you’ll also find unobstructed views of Half Dome and Sentinel Rock.
Stretching behind the lodge is the Merced River, where you can take a dip on a hot day. If the river is too cold for you, opt for the lodge’s swimming pool instead.
The lodge also offers bike rental to help you travel through Yosemite’s miles of bike paths and trails. This is one of our favorite ways to get around Yosemite, with no shortage of unobstructed views along your journey.
The lodge’s convenience can’t be beat as a starting point for a variety of tours. One of the most popular tours in the Valley Floor Tour. Guided by a National Park Service ranger, this tour provides you with the best scenery in the park. You can also embark on the all-day Grand Tour, which takes you to Glacier Point for an aerial view of the Yosemite Valley and the towering Mariposa Grove.
After a long day of adventuring, you can enjoy the lodge’s outdoor theater. In the evenings, park rangers host presentations about Yosemite’s wildlife, history, geology, and so much more.
Considered the “crown jewel” of national park lodges, this National Historic Landmark provides the comfort of a luxury hotel with air conditioning, a private balcony, and private bathrooms amidst the wilderness of California’s greatest national park.
Built in the Roaring Twenties to attract affluent park-goers, this grand hotel has hosted notable guests like Queen Elizabeth II, John F. Kennedy, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Charlie Chaplin. If you want to live like royalty, there is nowhere better than The Ahwahnee.
The Ahwahnee is also close to some of Yosemite’s most popular attractions, like Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point, and the Merced River. A short walk around the hotel grounds will provide you with unmatched views of Half Dome, and the hotel offers a shuttle service to transport you to a host of different attractions and activities.
To unwind after a long day, you can enjoy the Great Lounge. This relaxing space is especially luxurious in the winter when it provides crackling fires from its enormous stone fireplaces. After a cocktail at The Ahwahnee Bar, marvel at The Ahwahnee Dining Room’s 34-foot high beamed ceilings.
Throughout The Ahwahnee, you can find a variety of murals, photographs, and other historical artwork.
The Mariposa Hotel Inn
Just a 45-minute drive from Yosemite’s gates, you’ll arrive at the historic Mariposa Hotel Inn. Built in 1901, this lovely hotel looks like it came straight from the Wild West.
Don’t expect the blah homogeneity you get from any other hotel. The Mariposa offers six uniquely designed rooms with solid oak woodwork, period antiques, and vibrant wallpaper. This space is a time capsule to a simple yet elegant era past.
An added benefit of this hotel inn is its proximity to its namesake, the historic town of Mariposa. First established during the California Gold Rush, many of the town’s current buildings remain from the late 1850s. As a result, the town has an old-school vibe popular among travelers worldwide.
You can embrace Mariposa’s historical roots by visiting its range of boutique shops and restaurants, strolling through the 1850s courthouse (which is still in use), and touring the town via stagecoach.
While the Mariposa doesn’t offer the convenience of staying inside the park, visitors will be rewarded with a lovely drive both ways on the highway. Hugging the scenic Merced River, you can take a quick stop to dip into the alpine waters. Along the way, you will also find Hites Cove, which offers some of the best wildflower hikes in the state during spring.
Bridalveil Creek Campground
If the lodges and hotels are too cushy for you, camping in luxury tents is one of the best ways to connect with nature. As the only campground on Glacier Point Road, Bridalveil Creek Campground puts campers near the majestic Glacier Point Lookout. There, you can bask in unparalleled views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and many other wonders of the Yosemite Valley.
This campground is also a perfect basecamp for hikers, as it’s near trailheads for Mono Meadow, Pohono, Panorama Trails, and the Sentinel Dome to Taft Point Loop.
While glamping doesn’t offer the luxuries of Yosemite’s lodges, Bridalveil Creek Campground isn’t exactly roughing it. Each of the 110 tents and RV sites comes with a fire ring, picnic table, drinking water, flushing toilets, and a food locker.
If you want to combine the experience of camping with the luxuries of a hotel, Curry Village offers the perfect compromise. This unique campsite has over 300 canvas tent-cabins and rustic (non-tent) cabins.
Each tent cabin has a wood floor, cot-style beds, and propane heat during the fall and winter months. Bathrooms are just a short walk away from these vacation rentals, and daily housekeeping is included.
For a private bathroom, opt for one of the cabins with heat and electrical outlets. Both the tents and cabins provide an unmatched glamping experience.
As far as location, Curry Village cannot be beaten. Sitting just below Half Dome and Glacier Point, Curry Village has awe-inspiring views and ample access to the rest of the park.
High Sierra Camps
While Yosemite provides an incredible escape from the modern world, its beauty also attracts tons of visitors from across the globe––over four million each year. If you’re looking to evade the crowds and completely immerse yourself in nature, Yosemite’s High Sierra Camps are just what the doctor ordered.
Yosemite offers five High Sierra backcountry campsites, accessible by only foot or mule. While this may sound grungy, these camps are pretty luxurious. Not only is breakfast and dinner provided each day, but these camps also offer cabins and guided trips.
In a nutshell, High Sierra Camps in the Sierra Nevadas provide the benefits of backpacking without the hassle of carrying a backpack. If you’re not sure which camp to choose, we recommend May Lake.
This campsite is located on the edge of a High Sierra lake, where you can relax, fish, and swim. It’s also close to Mt. Hoffman, the geographic center of Yosemite. The delightfully challenging hike up this mountain will reward you with panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley.
The Tenaya Lodge
Finishing our list with an upscale option, the Tenaya Lodge is a full-on resort that provides amenities you won’t find at any other Yosemite lodge, like wi-fi.
After a long day exploring the park, you can unwind with a dip in the outdoor pool or hot tub. Then, join the other guests around a community fire pit and bond over your best experiences from the day. Tenaya also offers the best dining in the park, an unmatched spa, and several tours of the Yosemite Valley.
You can also enjoy Yosemite without ever leaving Tenaya. From an on-site adventure course to a nearby waterfall hike, you will never be bored at the Tenaya Lodge.
This is also an excellent option if you’re looking for more private accommodations. Tenaya’s cottage rooms provide their own entrances, living room, and kitchenette. Furthermore, you get all of the amenities of staying in the lodge, such as room service and housekeeping.
Yosemite Awaits With Autio
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The 13 Best National Parks in California | Travel.USNews.com
10 Top-Rated Hikes In Yosemite National Park | PlanetWare.com
Yosemite Lodging Experience | TravelYosemite.com