Are you planning your epic trip and struggling to find where to stay in Yosemite National Park? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of options and unsure where to start?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Because our in-depth guide to Yosemite is going to give you an overview of all the top choices.
Yosemite National Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and one of the most popular destinations for nature lovers. The park is home to some of the most iconic landscapes on Earth, from the towering granite cliffs of Half Dome to the cascading waterfalls of Yosemite Valley.
The one major shortcoming of Yosemite National Park is that it’s overwhelmed by visitors for at least six months of the year. There are two reasons for that; first, Yosemite became a victim of its own popularity. People from all over the world, from casual tourists to extreme rock climbers, come to the park during the high tourist season.
Second, the park is within driving distance of two major urban conglomerates, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is easy for Californians to make the trip to Yosemite for a weekend. If you live in the Bay area, day trips to Yosemite are incredibly common.
When planning to visit Yosemite and looking for places to stay, you have to be very strategic. Of course, you’ll want to stay inside the park, but there is a secondary strategy for finding a place to stay. Look for places to stay outside the park but nearby.
Let’s cover both scenarios.
Where to stay in Yosemite: Lodging Inside The Park
For such a vast and popular destination, the lodging inside Yosemite National Park, the park, is very limited. Yosemite Hospitality company manages all lodging options, and all reservations are available 366 days in advance.
Reservations are necessary one year in advance to snag any lodging option during the high tourist season, May through October. Lodging options inside the park offer one luxury lodge and two family-style hotels; the rest are rustic-style options like cabins and canvas tents.
- The Ahwahnee Hotel (Formerly Majestic Yosemite Hotel): The Ahwahnee Hotel is one of the most iconic and luxurious hotels in Yosemite National Park. Located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, this hotel offers stunning views of Half Dome and Glacier Point. The hotel has been open since 1920, and its historic lodge-style architecture is a sight to behold. The Ahwahnee is worth considering if you book a year in advance and can afford it. 9.0 “Wonderful” rating on Booking.com.
- Yosemite Valley Lodge: The Yosemite Valley Lodge, built in the early 1900s, is a great choice for families and large groups to stay with absolutely stunning views of Yosemite Falls. The lodge’s glass and wood architecture and ample windows allow in the bright mountain sunshine while providing remarkable views. Multiple dining options include a seasonal outdoor swimming pool and onsite bike rental. The location of Yosemite Valley Lodge simply can’t be beaten! 7.9 “Good” rating on Booking.com.
- Curry Village: Curry Village is perfect if you’re looking for something more rustic. This historic lodge is located in the heart of Yosemite Valley. It was built in 1899 as temporary housing in Yosemite and later converted into charming lodges. It has a variety of accommodations, including hotel rooms, cabins, and tent cabins. Once again, it is a fantastic option for staying in the valley, but only if you can get a reservation.
Due to the nature of my business and personality, I cannot plan my trips one year in advance to book lodging inside the park. As a result, I’ve never had a chance to stay inside the park while visiting Yosemite. I always use the second strategy: looking for a place to stay outside Yosemite close to one of the five park entrances.
Where to Stay in Yosemite by Park Entrance
Yosemite National Park has five entrances, giving you many options for finding accommodations just outside the park. It’s important to keep in mind that Yosemite’s five entrances are not created equal with regard to lodging.
To learn more about Yosemite 5 entrances, please check my dedicated article here: Yosemite Entrances: Which One Should I Take?
Four of Yosemite’s entrances are located on the western side of the park to give you a better idea of the setup. While the fifth Yosemite entrance, the Tioga Pass Entrance, is on the remote eastern side of the park.
The Yosemite National Park entrances include:
- Big Oak Flat Entrance (Hwy. 120)
- Hetch Hetchy Entrance (Hwy. 120)
- Tioga Pass Entrance (Hwy. 120)
- Arch Rock Entrance (Hwy. 140)
- South Entrance (Hwy. 41)
On the park’s west side, you’ll find Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat Entrance along Highway 120. The closest town to this entrance is Groveland, about an hour from the park entrance.
The Big Oak Flat Entrance is easily accessible from San Francisco and Bay Area and has the most lodging options of any entrance in the park. You’ll only be about a 25 miles drive from Yosemite Valley to Big Oak Flat Entrance, but that is negative if Yosemite Valley is your main point of interest.
This is one of the park’s least crowded entrances, the most scenic, and my favorite.
- Rush Creek Lodge: One of the most popular lodges outside of the park is the Rush Creek Lodge. A favorite among solo travelers, this charming lodge offers fantastic amenities such as a pool, an adults only hot tub, a spa, and even unlimited s’mores. What’s not to love? This is an amazing option at only .5 miles (.8 km) from the Big Oak Flat Entrance. 9.0 “Superb” rating on Booking.com.
- Groveland Hotel: With Groveland being the closest town to the Big Oaks Flat Entrance, if you want to be in a slightly more urban setting, then the Groveland Hotel is perfect for you. The history of the building only adds to its charm, as it used to be a trading post in 1849. Bonus: it’s located right next to the Iron Door Saloon, the state’s longest-operating bar. 8.1 “Very Good” rating on Booking.com.
- Majestic Pine Cabin: You’ll find this charming cabin in a gated community about 25 miles from the Big Oak Flat Entrance of Yosemite National Park. The private and peaceful cabin comfortably sleeps 6 and offers stunning mountain views. Large windows and an amazing deck help you enjoy nature’s splendor during your stay. 4.95 rating on Airbnb.com
The South Entrance at Yosemite National Park gives the most lodging options for any park entrance. Entering through the south will take you past several of the park’s stunning attractions, including Pioneer Yosemite History Center, Chilnualna Falls, and the Giant Sequoias of Mariposa Grove.
- Tenaya Lodge (former Apple Tree Inn): You’ll find that the cottages and cabins at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp are a bit of a splurge, but it’s easy to see why. Luxury is the name of the game at Tenaya Lodge. This hotel offers cottages and spacious rooms, a luxurious spa, yoga classes, guided hikes, multiple pools, and onsite dining options. Bonus: it’s also just 10 minutes from the park, though you may never need to leave the lodge. 8.4 “Very Good” rating on Booking.com.
- Narrow Gauge Inn: Also located in Fish Camp, the Narrow Gauge Inn is a charmingly rustic hotel just 10 minutes from the South Gate Entrance. The grounds and gardens are gorgeous and complete with a creekside trail. Enjoy the pool, hot tub, and onsite dining for your convenience. 8.4 “Very Good” rating on Booking.com.
- Big Creek Inn: This quaint Bed and Breakfast in Fish Camp is perfect for those looking to stay close to the South Entrance. At just 1.9 miles (3 km) you can’t get much closer. Each spacious room has a private balcony overlooking nature and a private bathroom. You can also relax in the property’s beautiful garden while enjoying the surrounding nature’s tranquility. 9.4 “Superb” rating on Booking.com.
You’ve probably seen photos of the Arch Rock Entrance, otherwise known as the El Portal. By far the most dramatic entrance in the park, El Portal allows visitors to enter the park through a balanced arch rock. This is the closest entrance to Yosemite Valley and has many of the most stunning views in the park. If you’re looking for amenities and being near Yosemite Valley, then this is the area for you.
- Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort: If you are looking for a forest atmosphere that’s quiet and peaceful, look no further than the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort. The resort offers an on-site restaurant perfect for dining after a day exploring the park and a spa for those seeking a bit of indulgence. Yosemite Valley is just 27 miles (43 km) away from this resort, located close to Mariposa. 8.0 “Very Good” rating on Booking.com.
- Yosemite View Lodge: As one of the top-rated lodging options near the Arch Rock Entrance, this dog-friendly lodge is just 8.7 miles (14kms) from Yosemite National Park. Set on the Merced River, the lodge offers 4 pools, a hot tub, and a restaurant onsite. After a day exploring or before you set out in the morning, you can dine at The River Restaurant & Lounge, which offers classic American breakfast and dinner.
- Rush Creek Lodge At Yosemite: At just .5 miles (.8 km) from the park entrance, you can’t get much closer than Rush Creek Lodge. A favorite among couples, this lodge features a seasonal outdoor pool and two hot tubs, one for families and one for adults only. You can enjoy a meal at the onsite restaurant after a day of hiking in the park or grab breakfast before you start adventuring. 9.0 “Superb” rating on Booking.com.
As one of the most remote entrances in the park, with no access to Yosemite Valley, you won’t find many lodging options near Hetch Hetchy. This entrance is tucked away in the park’s northeast corner and has limited operating hours. If you’re looking for solitude, this is a great place.
- Evergreen Lodge: One of the few options on this quiet side of the park, the Evergreen Lodge is a charming collection of cabins that are a nature lovers’ paradise. Each cabin has a private balcony perfect for enjoying nature, and the lodge also offers a seasonal pool, game room, and an onsite restaurant and bar. 9.0 “Superb” rating on Booking.com.
- Yosemite Lakes Cabins and Yurts: This amazing collection of cabins and yurts, with 14 total accommodation options, is just 8 miles from the Hetch Hetchy Entrance of Yosemite. Experience nature at its finest in these outfitted cabins and yurts. Each lodging option includes modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, kitchens, and private bathrooms for each unit. 8.4 “Very Good” rating on Booking.com.
Looking for a beautiful and scenic drive? Head to the Tioga Pass Entrance of Yosemite National Park. This is the only entrance on the park’s eastern side, but keep in mind it’s closed for 6 months of the year due to snow. It’s around 45 miles from Yosemite Valley, and you’ll need to drive over the mountain pass to get from Tioga to most of the park. For those looking for practicality when considering where to stay in Yosemite National Park, this isn’t the place for you.
- Lake View Lodge: This lodge has various accommodation options, including rooms, cottages, and cabins, and is located just 13 miles (20 km) from the Tioga Pass Entrance of Yosemite National Park. It’s located in Lee Vining, where the lodge is an easy walk from restaurants and cafes. The lodge also offers a common garden for guests to enjoy, which is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset.
- Heidelberg Inn: The Heidelberg Inn is located on picturesque June Lake; it’s easy to see why old Hollywood frequented this charming inn. Solo travelers, in particular, seem to love this stunning location where you get beautiful views of June Lake and are an easy walking distance from the town and all its amenities.
- Virginia Creek Settlement: If you want to be transported back in time, consider staying at the Virginia Creek Settlement in Bridgeport. At this settlement, you can choose to stay in a motel, cabin, creekside cottage, or even a covered wagon. Picnic tables, fire pits, and raised barbecue stands are also available for guest use.
Fun Fact: The famed John Wayne stayed in this rustic lodge at the Virginia Creek Settlement!
Where To Stay In Yosemite National Park | Final Thoughts
If you are wondering where to stay in Yosemite National Park, out of the five entrances, the most logical choices are South Entrance and Arch Rock Entrance. Both of these entrances offer more lodging options and are closer to the best destination in Yosemite National Park. No matter what you are looking for, there is a great lodging option near Yosemite for you!