Glamping – “glamorous camping” – is outdoor recreation’s new lodging genre. A hybrid experience, equal parts luxury hotel and camping, glamping is a creative way to stay in a comfortable cocoon of cozy amenities surrounded by nature.
Today, travelers want to authentically experience the most awe-inspiring destinations around the world, with a splash of glamour and the ease of not packing up all of their outdoor gear. There’s a bit of magic in rolling out of a comfortable bed with forest all around. Glamping or RV camping puts you closer to the great outdoors at prime locations both inside and outside of Yosemite National Park.
Here are Yosemite Mariposa County’s leading practitioners of the alternative art of glamping, from A(hhh) to Z(zzz)!
AutoCamp Yosemite is located in foresty Midpines, just 25 miles from Yosemite National Park’s Arch Rock Gate on all-season Highway 140. Renowned for its armada of iconic Airstream travel trailers that have been custom-built as hotel suites, AutoCamp Yosemite also features a pure glamping option: 15 luxury tents, outfitted with high-thread-count luxury linens, bedding, and bathrobes — everything needed for home on the Sierra range.
Covering 35 acres of foresty terrain, the mantra of AutoCamp is to encourage a communal, outdoor experience that honors the spirit and tradition of camping. There are hiking trails nearby and an on-site shuttle stop for easy access to Yosemite National Park, operated by YARTS. AutoCamp Yosemite also provides glampy amenities including individual outdoor firepits, pool, hot tub, and scenic roof deck (perfect for stargazing).
Yosemite National Park
The wild backcountry of Yosemite National Park might not be the first place that comes to mind when discussing glamping, but stay with us. The High Sierra Camps, located within the spectacular alpine wilderness of Northern Yosemite, offer fully outfitted, shared tent cabins at five locations spaced roughly six to 10 miles apart.
High Sierra Camps – Glen Aulin, May Lake, Sunrise, Merced Lake, and Vogelsang – offer the rewards of backpacking without the need to carry a heavy backpack filled with tents and cooking gear, as each location offers hot dinner and breakfast served family-style. Clothing, personal items, and toiletries are all you need to carry. Each cabin has a wood-burning stove to ward off the chill at elevations ranging from 7,000 to over 10,000 feet, and showers are available at three of the camps. All camps have restrooms and potable drinking water.
Feeling intrepid? Take the Yosemite glamping challenge, and stay at each camp along the 49-mile High Sierra Camp Loop trail! Reservations for High Sierra Camps are “highly” competitive and conducted via a lottery/space available hybrid system.
High Sierra Camp hikers can take advantage of the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge at the start or end of their journey, where canvas tent cabins along the Tuolumne River offer glamping-worthy accommodations.
El Portal, CA
RV life, vanlife, glamping – kindred spirits to be sure, and all are in the mix at Indian Flat RV Campground. Located along Highway 140 in El Portal and just 30 minutes from the Arch Rock Entrance of Yosemite National Park, Indian Flat offers two tent cabins equipped with comfy beds, kitchenettes, private bathrooms, and cable TV. Ceiling fans swirl the fresh Sierra mountain air in these rustic expedition-ready chalets.
In addition to the pair of well-appointed, great-value tent cabins, Indian Flat offers 25 RV sites with water and electric hook-ups. Two hard-sided cabins including the historic stone cabin, provide another level of lodging. Guests also enjoy access to the outdoor swimming pool and Yosemite Valley Shuttle operated by YARTS at the Yosemite Cedar Lodge next door.
Lake McSwain is a small “after-bay” of larger Lake McClure, which endows it with two aquatic advantages: the water level remains high throughout the year, and a 10 mph speed limit is enforced to prohibit high-octane water sports.
It is also a perfect place to practice the art of glamping at Lake McSwain’s six lakefront cabins. Called the “Park Cabins,” the units come in at just under 400 square feet with all the amenities, including bathrooms, showers, kitchens with refrigerators, stove and microwaves, barbecues, fire pits, and covered picnic tables.
Fishing is off the hook at Lake McSwain. Regularly stocked, Lake McSwain is known as a great California fishing destination for trout (rainbow, brown, and brook) with salmon and bass also on the angler’s menu. Water players flip for Splash-N-Dash, Lake McSwain’s popular water park/obstacle course with giant inflatables.
Just south of old town Mariposa off Highway 49, the Mariposa Fairgrounds offer year-round camping and RV areas tucked inside a verdant garden of lawns, shade trees, and flowerbeds within its gates.
Tent cabins are available year-round with just a few exceptions when fairs are underway. Electricity, water, restrooms, and shower facilities are complemented by a centrally located picnic area and proximity to the restaurants, shops, museums and historic buildings of Mariposa, the county seat.
Fish Camp, CA
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is located in Fish Camp, just a few miles from Yosemite’s South Gate entrance and set among 50 wild acres of Sierra National Forest. Renowned as one of California’s premier mountain resorts, Tenaya Lodge recently added two-bedroom Explorer Cabins to its lodging mix.
Taking glamping to a whole new level, Explorer Cabins offer guests a unique Yosemite “cabineering” experience that combines the refined comforts of a modern cabin with the perks of a full-service resort — all in a pristine mountain setting.
Cabin guests have exclusive access to the Explorer Clubhouse, a 1,800-square-foot communal retreat with relaxed gathering areas and an expansive deck with picturesque views. A hub of activity, the clubhouse offers easy check-in, convenient grab-and-go daily breakfast, evening wine receptions, and other seasonal events.
Explorers can also take full advantage of Tenaya’s main lodge amenities including several full-service restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, and hot tubs, the renowned Ascent Spa, and electric car charging including Tesla Supercharger Stations at the Main Lodge and at the Tenaya Cottages.
For many a modern Muir, the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort has irresistible appeal. The Bug, as it’s known to devotees, offered glamping before glamping was even a thing with its bohemian, supertramp vibe.
About 30 miles from Yosemite Valley in Midpines, the Bug offers a wide range of lodging options with legit glamping DNA, including an international-style hostel. Tent cabins are right in the glamcamp wheelhouse, wood-framed with rubberized cotton canvas stretched all around. They have electricity for mood lighting and device charging, fans, screen doors, nice-thread-count linens, and view decks. Heated insulated tent cabins have additional interior walls, heaters, and decks. The Bug’s new tiled restroom complex features a full self-service do-it-yourself guest kitchen and dining area, sink bank, laundromat, private showers, and toilets.
Glampers give glowing reviews for the June Bug Cafe, serving up from-scratch metro fare. Next to the main lodge and Cafe is the Yosemite Health Spa, with a staff massage therapist, stainless steel UV/oxygenated spring water hot tub, hot rock sauna, herbal mineral baths, and yoga classes on the menu.
Yosemite Valley, CA
Curry Village is located in the heart of Yosemite Valley and, while the spartan tent cabins may not quite reach glamcamp standards, they are located in one of the singularly most beautiful locations on the planet.
Yosemite Curry Village tent cabin guests glamp in wood-framed canvas tent cabins with wood floors and electric lighting (but no electrical outlets). Heated tent cabins are available over the winter. Central showers and bathrooms are shared, and guests get clean sheets, wool blankets, pillows, and towels during their stay. Tasty dining options are available at Curry Village.
The posh factor that many associate with glamping may be amiss, but imagine waking up, strolling outside, and saying good morning to Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Glacier Point, and all the majesty of Yosemite Valley. Curry Village delivers on the glamping promise with its plus-location.
Coming soon: Wildhaven Yosemite will be adding 40 glamping tents and limited recreational services in 2023, followed by an additional 40 tents right near the town of Mariposa. This new glamping outfit successfully opened its first location in Sonoma on the Russian River in 2020. Stay Tuned!
To explore lodging options, things to do and places to eat, visit Yosemite.com, the #1 trip planning site for vacations to Yosemite National Park and historic Mariposa County. To stay up to date, follow @YosemiteNation on social media and subscribe to our newsletter, “The Wanderer”. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for great videos on the people and places of Yosemite Mariposa County.