Somewhere along the trail, rustic got a bad rap. “Relating to the countryside; rural” became “crude or unsophisticated,” according to Merriam-Webster. Well, since Yosemite Mariposa is in fact a rural destination set in a forested wonderland, it’s time to walk it back a few steps, and celebrate rustic travel for what it truly represents: a quiet, cozy, revitalizing vacation getaway.
Crunchy granite trails in perfect step with your soft wool socks. Cords and sherpa fleece that pair perfectly with a Ponderosa Pine-lined trail. And at the end of the day, an excellent selection of lodging options to come home to. Here’s a curated selection of local lodging options that are proudly, unapologetically (and maybe, at first glance, surprisingly) rustic.
Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort (pro tip: “rustic” is part of its name!) delivers a signature lodging experience with Golden State spirit. Set along a stream amid pine & black oak, the Bug’s range of accommodations is mind expanding, ranging from private sugar pine cabins with forest-view decks to timber-framed tent cabins built for glamping, not to mention a trio of vacation rentals: the hippie “Starlite House,” the “Hummingbird Cabin” (cozy, with a bird’s-eye view) and cowboy classic “Buckskin Ranch House.”
Adding to the allure is the Yosemite Health Spa complete with aromatic soaking tubs, massage, hot tub and yoga studio. The highly regarded June Bug Cafe serves up a foodie-friendly menu that changes daily including vegan & vegetarian options.
Buck Meadows, CA
Buck Meadows Lodge is 12 miles from Yosemite National Park’s Big Oak Flat entrance on State Highway 120, just east of Groveland. Buck Meadows was originally called “Hamilton’s Station,” a stage stop on the way to Yosemite and famous for having the coldest drinks in the area, courtesy of nearby natural springs. Renamed Buck Meadows in 1915 for the abundant local deer population, a decade later the town served as a bustling camp supporting construction of the 430-foot-tall O’Shaughnessy Dam at Hetch Hetchy.
Today the lodge offers 10 clean and comfortable motel rooms for budget-minded travelers. It’s a multi-tool Yosemite base camp for rustic lodging, provisions and good times. The lodge’s Lucky Buck CafÃ© is revered by locals for great eats. EV charging stations are available here as well.
Immerse in time-travel history with a stay at the Mariposa Hotel Inn. With uniquely decorated hotel rooms, handcrafted woodwork, and period antiques, these rustic Yosemite hotel rooms exude character and class.
Located on the main street of charming old town Mariposa, the Inn was built on the original site of a rollicking hotel/bar that flourished during the California Gold Rush. The current building dates to 1901 with wonderful turns like a creekside Garden Veranda (great for bird watching). Marguerite’s Room features an original 1901 claw-foot tub!
El Portal, CA
Yosemite Cedar Lodge is the go-to choice for family travelers and offers some of the closest outside-Park accommodations to Yosemite Valley. All across the grounds, whimsical carved bears peek through trees and around corners. The Kid’s Guide to the Cedar Lodge Resort is a fun front desk giveaway with a great map of the “bear necessities.”
This rustic lodge near Yosemite offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spas, while gazebos provide perfect rest stops along its very own Merced River Walk that leads to the lodge’s private sandy beach. This is a great spot to watch rafts pass on whitewater trips in spring and early summer. The popular Hite Cove Trail is just up the road, where spring burst with color. The Cedar Lodge Restaurant is a tasty option for home-style cuisine in a split-level setting.
El Portal, CA
The cabins at Indian Flat RV Park are equipped with kitchenettes, private bath and cable TV. For those looking for a comfortable tent experience, they have the tent cabin just for you. They provide the beds, lights and even a ceiling fan.
Fish Camp, CA
Only two miles from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park and its spectacular mountains, magnificent granite domes and lush forests, White Chief Mountain Lodge offers rustic lodge accommodations in the peace and quiet of the Sierra Nevada wilderness.
El Portal, CA
OK, it may seem like a stretch to claim that a 335-room hotel with first class accommodations is rustic, but stay with us. The riverfront Yosemite View Lodge has the unique distinction of being the closest resort to Yosemite Valley that’s located outside Park gates. Its seamless connection with the great outdoors qualifies it for a place among Yosemite Mariposa’s top rustic hotels.
With most rooms having personal balconies overlooking the Wild & Scenic Merced River, it’s a great place to feel the breeze off the rushing water and gaze across the steep, rugged canyon that surrounds.
With two restaurant options, Parkside Pizza and The River View, and seven, yes, seven hot tub spas on the property, the lodge has a nice pop of amenities including the Yosemite View Convenience Store and 120v outlets in the parking lot for EV charging.
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.