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Where to Stay in Yosemite Valley

Where to Stay in Yosemite Valley


It is no wonder the place naturalist John Muir called “a temple of nature” remains a favorite place for the world to visit. Wondrous vistas appear everywhere, from towering Sequoias, mile-high waterfalls, and the grandeur of granite-faced mountains.


Save time and gain your best Yosemite experience by staying inside Yosemite National Park. Whatever your accommodation budget and the amenities—or lack of—you desire, you can find all the best places to stay right here.


The Grande Dame
The Ahwahnee’s majesty matches the awe-inspiring splendor of its surroundings. Named for the former Miwok Native American village, the 99-room hotel, with 24 cottages, offers views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point. Its diversity of design components, including Art Deco, Arts & Crafts Movement, and Native American, reflects a multitude of inspiration since its 1927 opening.


A sense of rustic grandeur waits in the common rooms with massive stone fireplaces and comfortable sofas and chairs. Sink deep and plan your next day’s adventure. If dinner at the famed Dining Room, with its innovative American cuisine, is part of your vacation plans, you should call early for a reservation An evening dress code is observed, so no shorts or T-shirts.


Amenities include wireless Internet, afternoon tea service, and an outdoor heated pool—especially magical as snowflakes fall.


Special events, such as the autumnal winemakers’ dinners, are always a hit. California’s rich wine diversity is also deliciously celebrated. Many return annually for the Bracebridge Dinner held from mid-December until Christmas Eve. Transformed into a 17th-century manor house, the Ahwahnee offers time travel to a merry olde English yuletide feast via an authentically costumed staff and cast, food, and music.


Other Lodging Options
Blending into the natural beauty, thanks to its glass and wooden façade, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls provides terrific lodging for everyone from families and groups to couples or singles who desire to be closer to the wonders of Mother Nature. The 249 rooms include the newly completed green section, where the reduction of guests’ and staff’s carbon footprints is key. Family rooms, the largest room type in the park, offer a king bed, two single beds, and a queen-sized sleeper sofa.


A recommendation is to arise early to catch the morning sun’s rays first kiss the towering peaks as a symphony of songbird swells. The Yosemite Lodge is also a perfect spot to rent a bike and set off along the 12-mile trail. The highlight will be viewing the 1,450 feet of Upper Yosemite Falls. With a total drop of more than 2,400 feet, the falls are the fifth-highest in the world.


Place a guest from the late 19th century on the Wawona Hotel’s main wide veranda, and they will feel perfectly comfortable. Originally a stagecoach inn, the hotel—which is situated in six separate buildings near the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias—has 149 rooms, most of which share a bathroom and shower facilities. Furnished in original period pieces, the transformation to a bygone era is complete with the absence of televisions and telephones in the rooms. Wireless Internet connection is available in common areas. Enjoy the great outdoors by hiking, playing golf, or dipping into the outdoor pool after a horseback ride.


Tenting Tonight
Camping is an elevating and affordable experience at Curry Village, better known as Camp Curry, and Tuolumne and White Wolf Lodges. Each site is a sea of white canvas tents with wooden floors that sleep two to four in supplied beds with bedding. White Wolf also offers wooden cabins, as does Camp Curry. The latter also offers an 18-room hotel.


If you prefer more primitive conditions, consider Housekeeping Camp. Six people can sleep in a unit with a concrete floor, three concrete walls and one curtained wall for privacy. Bedding is not included, but nearby, sheets, pillows, and more are available to rent. Using bear-proof food storage containers is a necessity to avoid a potential wildlife disaster.


True adventure awaits those who choose to stay at one of the two Yosemite High Sierra Camps. Accessible only by feet or hooves, a trail loops the camps together. You can head off on a solo ride in the remote wilderness, although many join a guided backcountry ride. Nightly, a family-style dinner is included with the price of accommodations, and boxed lunches are available for fueling a daytime exploration. An autumn lottery reserves spots for the coming summer. Check back periodically on Yosemite’s website to check for cancellations.


—By LJ Bottjer
LJ Bottjer is a cultural chameleon whose work has appeared with CBS News, the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group and Travel & Leisure.

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