Southwest

Where to Stay Near Yosemite National Park

When you see Yosemite's cascading waterfalls, blooming meadows, vibrant valleys, high granite cliffs, ancient sequoia trees, and vast wilderness in person, you won't wonder why conservationists pushed for its protection in the late 1800s.

Northern California‘s Yosemite was the first place to spark the concept of national parks and the first land protected by the government for its natural beauty, back in 1864.

Thanks to Muir and President Lincoln’s foresight, these spectacular landscapes eventually became America’s third national park and Yosemite’s 1,200-square-miles continue to wow visitors from around the world today.

While its granite monoliths and endless waterfalls are Yosemite’s claims to fame, there’s far more to explore beyond the main gate. In fact, my first trip was not to see the famous Firefall or climb Half Dome. Instead, I ventured up Tioga Pass, a seasonal gate on Yosemite’s eastern side, for its spring opening day.

After stopping at Tioga Gas Mart for top-notch fish tacos, I followed the winding road past gasp-inducing waterfalls and vistas of Half Dome from Olmstead Point. This lesser-visited road is also home to Tenaya, Yosemite’s largest natural lake, as well as the hiking/climbing paradise of Lembert Dome. Venturing into the park revealed more natural wonders, but its most picturesque spot is Tuolumne Meadows. High up at 8,600 feet, Tuolumne is one of the Sierra Nevada’s most expansive high-elevation meadows and was a welcome respite from crowds. Here, I hiked around enough folks to quiet my bear encounter worries, while still feeling on my own in this undeveloped natural paradise.

Whether you’re visiting the Valley or exploring Yosemite’s vast wilderness, remember that this park is big and therefore tough to tackle in a single visit. With accommodations ranging from fancy in-the-park boutique hotels to historic lodgings in quaint towns, knowing where to land is a challenge. Consider what you want to see when picking your home base. Here’s the lowdown on park entrance locations and the best spots to stay near each.

In the Park

Maximize your convenience (for a price) by overnighting in Yosemite National Park. From a spectacular hotel at the base of Yosemite Falls to luxe valley lodging, options vary in style and amenities, but offer the quickest access to the park.

Yosemite Valley Lodge

Make this lodge your basecamp to easily explore the park—without sleeping in a tent. Yosemite Valley Lodge is the most affordable option in the park and has been updated with modern travelers in mind. Big windows provide gorgeous flora views, and it’s a short walk to the falls or Merced River. Plus, many park tours depart right from the lobby.

Stay in one of 241 recently renovated rooms with woodsy vibes and eco-friendly touches, and take advantage of on-site eateries, a Starbucks, and a gift shop. Snag a waterfall view table at dinner-only Mountain Room Restaurant, where seasonally-inspired cuisine like rainbow trout is on the menu, or keep it casual in the lively lounge or cafeteria-style eats in the hotel food court. See the sights without a car and catch a free shuttle outside the lodge to popular Yosemite Valley destinations.

Yosemite Valley Lodge

Yosemite National Park
7.8 Good (1485 reviews)

The Ahwahnee (formerly The Majestic Yosemite)

Feeling fancy? Book a room at Yosemite’s crown jewel: The Ahwahnee. Originally constructed in 1927 with a well-to-do clientele in mind, the hotel has welcomed royalty and presidents during its nearly 100-year run.

This National Historic Landmark is built of stone, concrete, glass, and wood, and its imposing design hearkens back to the rustic era of national park architecture. A casual walk about showcases Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s highest waterfalls, as well as the majestic Half Dome peak and Glacier Point. Bonus: take a free shuttle from here to the park’s other attractions.

Summer months bring lounging crowds to the property’s outdoor swimming pool, while kids and adults alike love the old-fashioned cookies and chocolate bars in the sweet shop. The elegant Ahwahnee Restaurant serves three meals a day and hosts famous and frequent food and wine events. Don’t miss themed craft cocktails like the Yosemite Gimlet and El Capitini at the hotel’s bar.

Request a remodeled guest room featuring California Mission and English-design, accented with reproductions of John Muir’s pressed Yosemite botanical samples. Find a more secluded experience in Ahwahnee’s cottages— little guest houses tucked into the forest.

Ahwahnee

Yosemite National Park

Big Oak Flat Entrance

Driving from the Bay Area? Big Oak Flat is your entrance. Go east on I-580, I-205, and Highway 120 via Manteca, California to Groveland. Hang your hat in this small town and visit Iron Door Saloon, California’s oldest continuously operating saloon—circa 1852. Big Oak Flat Entrance is open year-round and just 30 minutes from town. From here, you’re close to Tuolumne River whitewater expeditions, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and golfing.

Yosemite Westgate Lodge

Stay on Highway 120, just 12 miles from Yosemite’s western entrance, at the Yosemite Westgate Lodge in Buck Meadows. It’s just past the gold rush town of Groveland and is the closest modern hotel to Yosemite National Park. Most rooms feature two Queen beds, contemporary furnishings, and park photography by professional Scott Sandler, but families can reserve deluxe rooms that sleep up to five.

The Westgate is built in a horseshoe-shaped ring of buildings that surround a heated pool, spa, and playground open only in the summer. It also comes with other perks like a guest laundry facility and seasonal on-site restaurant—The Lucky Buck Cafe.

Whether you’re craving superfood salads, towering pancake stacks, or vegan tacos and curry, you’ll find it on the menu at this relaxed retro cafe. Lucky Buck serves hearty home-cooked meals and American favorites throughout spring and summer, but closes from November to March.

Don’t worry – there’s plenty of beer, wine, live music concerts, darts, and shuffleboard if you’re looking for a little nightlife.

Yosemite Westgate Lodge

Groveland
7.7 Good (2595 reviews)

Groveland Hotel

Dating back to the Gold Rush era, Groveland Hotel is the oldest in the Yosemite area. Yet it doesn’t feel dated – it houses 18 remodeled guest rooms and has a wrap-around porch and massive tiered patio so delightful, you’ll want to linger outdoors. Inside Groveland is up-to-date with cushy carpets and fresh, cozy linens, but still maintains its classic California ranch-style ambiance.

Savor housemade bakery goods, fresh fare for lunch, and dinner on the back patio at Provisions—Groveland’s on-site restaurant, taproom, and bourbon bar. This 1849 adobe taproom was restored to its original glory with pressed tin walls and refinished hardwood floors and is a local hotspot for music, libations, and bites. Celebrate the day’s adventures with 10 craft beers, hard ciders, and Prosecco on draft or over 30 bourbons and whiskeys.

Groveland Hotel

Groveland
8.1 Very good (571 reviews)

Hotel Charlotte

Hotel Charlotte, the sister to the Groveland Hotel, also calls the Old West town of Groveland home. Its inviting ambiance and friendly staff make Charlotte a home away from home for anyone preferring quiet inns to expansive resorts. Unpack and stay a while in one of the 13 guest rooms, all with complimentary WiFi and parking. Four-legged friends are welcome too in select first-floor rooms.

Charlotte’s Tavern has been recently re-imagined and opens seasonally to serve farm-fresh California-fusion cuisine. The hotel partners with local farmers to create regionally-influenced cuisine that showcases the best of Yosemite Valley producers. Expect fresh salads, wild fish, garlic fries, housemade soups, and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. Grab a seat at the pre-prohibition style wooden bar and sip beer, wine or hand-crafted cocktails.

Hotel Charlotte

Groveland
8.4 Very good (531 reviews)

South Entrance

When visiting from San Diego or Los Angeles, this is your closest entrance. It’s accessible via Highway 41, which passes right through the tiny town of Fish Camp. While less than 60 people call it home, Fish Camp boasts lovely bed and breakfasts, a full-service resort, and the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. Stay for easy access to Mariposa Grove, horseback riding and packing outfitters, and the Pioneer History Center.

Narrow Gauge Inn

Just four miles from the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park and six miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, find old-fashioned hospitality at the Narrow Gauge Inn. Built on a Sierra mountainside overlooking Mt. Raymond, this inn pairs comfortable accommodations with rustic charm.

Narrow Gauge’s forested grounds feature a seasonally heated outdoor swimming pool and bubbling hot tub, as well as a gift shop, gardens, and nature trails through the forest and along a creek. From the hotel, walk to the Sugar Pine Railroad and go for a ride on a turn-of-the-century steam locomotive.

When your stomach is rumbling, head to the hotel restaurant for $9.99 hot breakfast, which includes scrambled eggs, sausage, rosemary potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, muffins, bread, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, and fresh fruit. By night, stone fireplaces, antique oil lamps, and stained glass windows exude a fine-dining vibe with elegant cuisine to match.

Narrow Gauge Inn

Fish Camp
8.3 Very good (1619 reviews)

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

From lodge rooms to cozy cabins, gorgeous Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite offers 350 room options ideal for couples and families. Set in the mountains—an hour from Yosemite Valley—this expansive resort is only two miles from the park’s south entrance.

Every room comes stocked with a mini-fridge, coffeemaker, and sometimes, a whirlpool tub; cottages also have microwaves and private patios. A daily resort fee includes access to the fitness center, game room, and swimming pools, as well as guided snowshoe hikes, ice skating, and bike rentals.

Once your Yosemite day winds down, chill in Tenaya Lodge’s three outdoor pools. Let kids splash in the family pool with water features, or keep the screaming at bay in the new adults-only relaxation pool. Sip a cold one poolside at the Bearfoot Bar, watch a dive-in pool movie, or warm up in one of four hot tubs. Turn up your relaxation even further with a massage at the spa, or nourish your skin with a sauna or steam room session.

Of all our hotel options, Tenaya is tops for cuisine. Choose from specialty salads and sandwiches at Harvest & Grounds Deli, Timberloft’s brick oven-fired pizza, Embers hearty cuisine, and pub fare at Jackalopes Bar & Grill.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Fish Camp
8.4 Very good (3303 reviews)

Tioga Pass (East) Entrance

Tioga Road is only open seasonally (late May through October), but it’s a stellar option for avoiding crowds. Most visitors never leave Yosemite Valley, so you’ll find a quieter experience here. Plus, it’s the closest entrance to Reno, Tahoe, or Mammoth.

Double Eagle Resort and Spa

Tucked into the “Switzerland of California” along June Lake, you’ll find Double Eagle Resort and Spa. This quiet, four-season destination is just 12 miles from the eastern Tioga Pass entrance and offers cozy cabins and spacious hotel room accommodations.

Get your pump on at the hotel’s Creekside Fitness Center, where free weights, circuit training stations, and fitness classes are complimentary for hotel guests. Plus, there are outdoor nature walks and snowshoeing when the weather permits.

Skip a trip into town and dine at Eagle’s Landing Restaurant. Enjoy mountain and waterfall views from every seat and deck dining in summer. Every Thursday-Tuesday, score discounted draught beers, cocktails, and apps (like the famous fish tacos) during happy hour.

Double Eagle Resort and Spa

June Lake
8.8 Excellent (829 reviews)