Best places to stay in Yosemite Natinal Park
In the south west the Arch Rock Entrance leads you into the Yosemite Valley with the magnificent Yosemite Falls and the Valley Visitor Centre. Across the park there is plenty to do including hiking, rock climbing, biking, riding, golf, water sports and rafting, shopping, ice skating, taking part in history and nature programmes, visits to museums, skiing and snowshoeing. Families with small children will love the Nature Center at Happy Isles where in the rather old-fashioned museum there are plenty of children-friendly exhibits.
The Yosemite Falls are definitely the parks major attraction and mustn’t be missed. The best time to see them is in late spring when the melting snow means the water flow is at its peak. You can walk up to the Falls or for less mobile visitors there is a shuttle bus.
One of the most amazing views in Yosemite Valley has to be from the top of Glacier Point where you get views of the Half Dome, Vernal Falls and an unequalled view of the High Sierras in the distance along with the valley floor thousands of metres below. You can drive up or take a guided tour and hike back down if you are feeling up to it!
Many hikers and climbers visiting Yosemite will definitely want to make the effort to reach the summit of the Half Dome with its infamous metal cables. This full-day trek is only recommended for those with suitable experience. Less adventurous types can admire its beauty from the valley floor and take photographs instead!
Located in Yosemite Valley is Yosemite Village where there are numerous places to eat and drink ranging from vegetarian and gourmet foods at the deli to family feasts in the loft style restaurant where pizzas and burgers are sure to be firm favourites. Over at nearby Curry Village there are five restaurants and bars including a coffee shop and another pizza parlour. For a more upmarket dining experience superb food is served at the local four star hotel.
In the Yosemite Valley there is only one luxury hotel that guests can stay in. Since 1827 guests have appreciated the splendour of the Great Lounge in the hotel with its vast fireplaces and floor to ceiling windows with stunning views. The perfect balance of hospitality, history and excellent service makes this hotel the destination for many presidents and royal parties who come to visit the magnificence that Yosemite has to offer.
Close to the south entrance of the park is Wawona with lush meadows, rushing streams and the incredible Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Grizzly Giant is the oldest of the Sequoias and is believed to be somewhere between 1,900-2,400 years old and stands at an impressive 64 metres tall.
Close by is the Badger Pass Ski Area with a skiable area of around 90 acres with facilities for not just skiing but snow tubing and there are extensive cross country and snowshoe trails. There are opportunities for horse riding or a round of golf, or you just explore the Pioneer Museum and relax and absorb the atmosphere. The Pioneer Museum has horse-drawn wagons and explains how Yosemite became the inspiration for national parks across America and throughout the world.
Accommodation here is in a tranquil Victorian era lodge which is great for anyone who prefers a relaxed environment and the gracious charm of a bygone era. There is also a camp site if you prefer to be more independent. During the ski season there are two overnight huts available for any intrepid skiers who fancy a night out on the mountain.
Across to the east the Tioga Pass Entrance leads you to Tuolumne Meadows, the one of the largest and highest meadows at 2600 metres. Visitors and scientists come to this stunning area to admire the Tuolumne River gliding quietly through the meadows to the point where it crashes over granite with a backdrop of mountain peaks and glacial domes.
Accommodation is in a lodge in the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. It is a great base camp for day hikes before backpacking up to the higher camps. There are fully equipped four person tents with showers and toilet facilities available.
In the north the Hetch Hetchy Entrance is the gateway to the area of the same name and the beautiful reservoir that is the primary water source of the City and County of San Francisco. Hetch Hetchy is prime hiking country and for a short hike you can head to the Wapama Falls. Intrepid explorers can hike all the way back to the Yosemite Valley which is around 80 kilometres. Try to visit in spring when the flowers are in bloom and there is a chance of seeing bears with their cubs.
Staying at Hetch Hetchy is great as there are a number of cabins scattered throughout the woods and although each one feels totally private you are in easy reach of the central plaza where there are places to eat and drink and plenty of recreational facilities.
Just twenty kilometres from Yosemite this tiny town is by the Merced River and was once the end of the Yosemite Valley Railroad. Visitors can choose from two lodge style hotels or a B&B. There is a small general store and more importantly a petrol station and from the town visitors can take part in many outdoor activities.
If you are coming from Sacramento or San Francisco Bay direction then Groveland is an excellent gateway to Yosemite National Park. With a long main street filled with shop and restaurants it is also home to California’s continuously operating saloon; the Iron Door Saloon. The gold rush brought the first visitors to the area now it is the attraction of Yosemite that draws people here.
Pine Mountain Lake Marina has a great beach for relaxing on and letting children burn off some energy before you take them to the see the wonder of the Yosemite Falls. Options for lodgings include rental cabins sleeping up to eight people scattered throughout the pine forest or you can opt for a room in the small historic boutique hotel in the town or riverside rental cabins.
There is a definite feeling of the Old West in Mariposa with the wooden sidewalks lining the historic main street and the oldest court house west of the Rockies still in operation. The town is tiny, not even at traffic light in sight, but there is a myriad of unique shops, an arts park and a selection of restaurants.
Hotels in Mariposa are small but beautifully presented and mainly housed in historic old buildings. Quaint B&B’s offer single rooms or self-catering family sized suites or you can stay in the one brand name motel.
Oakhurst is a bigger town and there are more accommodation options with several brand name hotels, small inns and cosy B&B’s. If you want to stay in unsurpassed luxury you can rent a five star chateau which has every amenity you could possibly wish for and a hefty price tag! The town has all you need and more including several fast food and coffee outlets, a couple of supermarkets, a chemist and a sports shops. There is also a cinema and a small shopping centre.
Mammoth Lakes & Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Located to the south east of Yosemite National Park the Mammoth area has a lot offer. There are abundant recreational activities as well as events and festivals throughout the year.
Mammoth is a four season holiday destination and has comfortable accommodation from budget rooms to four star luxury hotels with family restaurants, fine dining and great nightlife. Visitors can fly into Mammoth from several Californian cities and hire rental cars to visit Yosemite or take guided tours.