This post is part of Just Ahead’s Yosemite Trip Planner—our guide to what you need to know to plan your trip to Yosemite National Park. Click here to see the complete series. And be sure to download our Just Ahead smartphone audio tour of Yosemite before you head to the park. (Note: Due to a trademark dispute, several Yosemite lodges now bear new names. To avoid confusion, we are using both the traditional names and the new names in the text below.)
Yosemite and vicinity are blessed with lodging that ranges from world-class beauties like the Ahwahnee and Tenaya Lodge to simple tent cabins that provide a more affordable way to sleep in comfort amid the beauty of the park. We cover all of the lodging in Yosemite here, including few outside-the-park options that offer rooms within 10 or so miles of the park boundary. And, of course, we point out all of them in the course of our Just Ahead audio tour of Yosemite. No matter where you’re headed, be sure to make reservations well in advance. Though it’s possible to get lucky, you should never count on it.
Yosemite Valley Lodging
The Ahwahnee Hotel (now known as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel), is the marquee lodging in Yosemite, if not the entire national park system. Its log-and-stone construction and Native American décor honor the beauty and history of the surroundings. And what majestic surroundings: Floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and the Royal Arch Cliffs. Massive sugar-pine beams and dark, ponderosa pine paneling add to the elegant rusticity of the place. The Ahwahnee has 99 rooms and 24 cottages, but its greatness lies in its public spaces—the Great Lounge, dining room, solarium, and bar—and the way its architecture blends in with its backdrop. All of that is testimony to the skill of its architect, Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who also designed lodges in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Whether or not you choose to stay there, the Ahwahnee is worth a visit—in fact, we’ve included it in our Best of Yosemite listings. Hot tip: The Ahwahnee’s cottages were recently re-done to better reflect their late-1920s vintage. They’re probably the most desirable rooms in the park.
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Yosemite Valley Lodge strikes a compromise between the expensive Ahwahnee and the summer-camp flavor of Curry Village. The location is brilliant—as the name suggests, the sprawling, 245-room lodge is near the base of Lower Yosemite Fall in the heart of Yosemite Valley. With two restaurants, bike rentals, and an activities desk, it’s very busy place, but an ideal home base for exploring all that Yosemite has to offer.