Yosemite Mariposa County for the holidays is sparkling and bright. It’s snowtime at higher elevations with winter recreation on the itinerary and snow-capped scenery on the horizon. Rolling down all-season highways to Sierra Gold Country, you can celebrate below the snowline with all the trimmings of the season on full display.
High Sierra and Gold Country destinations offer wonderfully diverse opportunities to get away for one of the most magical times of the year. Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or the winter solstice, there’s nothing like Yosemite during the holidays ““ it’s something that must be experienced. Yosemite Mariposa County has room for all to roam but book Yosemite lodging early for the best lodging selection. Here’s where to stay:
Holiday Hotels & Resorts
Take a well-deserved break this year and check in to a Yosemite Mariposa County hotel for the holidays! You’ll experience one of America’s most popular national park destinations during its quietest season when Yosemite somehow reaches an even higher level of beauty and awesomeness.
Tenaya at Yosemite
A four-diamond resort located just two miles from Yosemite’s south gate, Tenaya at Yosemite is all-in for the holidays with deluxe rooms, suites and Explorer Cabins. The centerpiece of the property’s festive dÃ©cor is a soaring Christmas tree decorated with enough lights to rival the starry Sierra night sky. Family-friendly events keep spirits high through the holidays with gingerbread house workshops, ice skating, sledding and more, from Thanksgiving feasts right up through New Year’s Eve when Tenaya transforms into Tenaya Royale to ring in the year.
With multiple restaurants, four swimming pools and hot tubs, a rock climbing wall, an archery range and full-service spa, Tenaya is the perfect place to decamp for the holidays. Just up the road, Goat Meadow Snowplay Area offers free sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing from the trailhead. Surrounding Sierra National Forest trails are equally inviting for winter rec.
Yosemite View Lodge
El Portal’s Yosemite View Lodge is just over two miles from the Arch Rock Entrance to Yosemite National Park on All-Weather Highway 140. Most Yosemite View Lodge rooms feature personal balconies overlooking the Wild & Scenic Merced River. They’re perfect for bundling up and enjoying a hot cocoa (or hot toddy) while watching the water rush by below.
With two restaurant options, Parkside Pizza and The River Restaurant, and seven, yes, seven hot tub spas on property, the lodge has a nice pop of amenities including the Yosemite View Store for last-minute gift shopping and 120v outlets and Tesla Superchargers in the parking lot for EV charging.
Yosemite Cedar Lodge
Also in El Portal, Yosemite Cedar Lodge is the go-to choice for holiday reunions with accommodations in proximity to Yosemite Valley. It’s an easy drive into the Park for a day tour of ice-crusted granite monoliths like El Capitan and Half Dome, and a winter’s hike on the Valley Trail when Yosemite Valley is clear of snow. Look around: in winter the chances of seeing Yosemite wildlife are better than ever.
Return to the lodge and continue your expedition by searching for the whimsical wooden carved bears that peek through trees and around corners. Ask the front desk for the Kid’s Guide to the Cedar Lodge Resort, an illustrated map of the “bear necessities.” The property offers indoor swimming pools and spas, and the Cedar Lodge Restaurant is a tasty option for home-style holiday dishes in a split-level setting.
Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort presents a holiday lodging experience with bells on. Located in Midpines on a forested hillside, the Bug’s range of accommodations is mind expanding, from private sugar pine cabins with forest-view decks to timber-framed tent cabins and vacation rental cabins. Consider this your go-to place to unplug before, during and after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Many accommodations offer kitchens and for those that don’t, the highly-regarded June Bug Cafe serves up a holiday-spiced menu that changes daily including vegetarian options, with large tables built for family gatherings. Adding to the allure is the Yosemite Health Spa complete with aromatic soaking tubs, massage, hot tub and yoga studio perfect for a holiday reset.
The Ahwahnee Hotel
When The Ahwahnee Hotel opened its doors in the summer of 1927, it instantly became one of the crown jewels of national park lodges. Known for its rough-hewn elegance, The Ahwahnee was specifically designed to highlight its natural surroundings, featuring Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point.
Always a must-visit destination within Yosemite Valley for its dining, dÃ©cor and architecture, the Ahwahnee takes it to a new level during the holidays. Think winter wonderland. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas brunch, and the time-honored Bracebridge Dinner events are tasty traditions at The Ahwahnee’s iconic dining room. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
Yosemite Mariposa County Vacation Rentals
Vacation cabin rentals are your “home away from home for the holidays,” perfect for saving money and enjoying everyone’s company under one roof. With more room to spread out, fully outfitted kitchens, and at many properties, private hot tubs for floating under the starry sky, all boxes are checked.
Yosemite Scenic Wonders
Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders offers more than 125 homes, cabins and condominiums, many within the gates of Yosemite National Park including Yosemite West, Wawona, and Fish Camp. Inside-the-park vacation cabins give you a head start to the lifts at Badger Pass Ski Area, Yosemite’s downhill and cross-country ski destination. Return from a day on powder-covered slopes and trails to cabins with Karamu-worthy kitchens to prepare Kwanzaa feasts.
The Redwoods in Yosemite
The Redwoods in Yosemite offer a collection of vacation home rentals located off Chilnualna Falls Road. There are more than 120 unique Yosemite National Park cabins and spacious luxury homes on offer, many pet-friendly. Options range from cozy one-bedroom cabins to the Yosemite Luxury Estate, an eight-bedroom, seven-bath cluster perfect as a multi-generational holiday base camp.
From Wawona, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is just up the highway where Yosemite’s ruddy giants are dusted with snow and ready to be discovered. In winter, the Grove becomes even more cathedral-like. During periods of heavy snow, a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis will make things even more fun.
For cabins so close to Yosemite Valley that the iconic outline of Half Dome joins you for morning coffee, try the hidden enclave of Foresta with its interesting history and beautiful meadow perched atop the Merced River Canyon.
Foresta is located at over 4,300 feet elevation off Highway 120, and can be subject to winter storms and chain controls ““ be sure to bring “˜em.
Bonus: Give Yosemite for the Holidays
In Yosemite Mariposa County, bespoke local merchants and makers offer discoveries you won’t find at the megamall. What’s more, old-town Mariposa stores are often located in historic buildings resplendent in the finest seasonal decor.
This year, make your holiday vacation a stay, shop, play getaway that’s festively framed by national park vistas, artisanal window-shopping, great dining, and one of a kind along Yosemite Mariposa County’s golden roads. Here’s a quick gift-buying guide for the holidays.
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.