One thing’s for certain — visitors to Yosemite Mariposa County earn their sleep. With activities like hiking, fishing, swimming, and shopping — not to mention so many natural wonders to see — there’s a well-deserved pleasure in laying your head squarely on a comfy pillow at the end of day and dreaming about the majesty you’ve just experienced.
Which poses a question: what local den of dreams can rival the rarified charm of this magical landscape? The answer, it turns out, is many. Whether it’s a train caboose or a bookworm’s suite, a silver bullet Airstream or a historic Gold Rush inn, there’s a range of unique lodging options in Yosemite Mariposa County guaranteed to aid & abet even the most active dreamers in a setting that’s truly one-of-a-kind.
The Vacation Station: Boxcar & Caboose
We all know your chicken is funky, but how loose is your caboose? This only-in-Yosemite Mariposa County stay obliges everyone from train nerds to history buffs and people who just like weird stuff. Located in the Gold Rush gem of Coulterville, the Vacation Station consists of a decommissioned 1964 Boxcar with kitchenette/living area (fold out queen bed plus bunk beds & tv) and private bedroom/bath; the Caboose is a studio-style space with kitchen, queen bed and a cool raised seating area called a cupola. The units share a deck and can be rented together or separately.
Local Commotion: Wander a block across the tracks to the Coulter Cafe & General Store for Thursday-Monday breakfast/lunch, and weekend foodie brunch with chef Sadie Taylor, not to mention live music on the patio.
Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
The Bug, as it’s known, has evolved from a backpacker’s hostel to now include private cabins on stilts and event/wedding spaces all just 26 miles from Yosemite Valley. Set along a stream amid pine & black oak, this unique mountain resort is the perfect meet & greet for travelers from all over the world and features the Yosemite Health Spa complete with aromatic soaking tubs, massage, hot tub and yoga studio. The highly-regarded June Bug Cafe is dedicated to solving a culinary dilemma — finding good food on the road — and serves up a menu that changes daily including vegan & vegetarian options. This is the ultimate in a list of delightful places to stay when looking for Yosemite rustic lodging.
Buggin’ Out Nearby: Get ready for your Yosemite main event by hiking outside the Park along the relatively flat, flow-adjacent Merced River Trail (5.5 miles out & back) or blow out the pipes on strenuous Burma Grade Road (9 miles out & back) with its 1,600-foot elevation gain and killer views.
Mariposa Hotel Inn
The Mariposa Hotel Inn captures the Gold Rush spirit with its six individually-appointed period rooms and is located on the main drag of charming old town Mariposa. Built on the original site of a hotel/bar that flourished during the California Gold Rush in the 1850’s, the prominent structure burned down in 1899 but was rebuilt in 1901 and still stands today. The shared Garden Veranda excels as a place for guests to gather for the their complimentary morning coffee/tea & pastries, or bring your own bottle of wine and relax at the end of a fun-filled day of sightseeing in Yosemite Mariposa County.
Historical Hubbub: Guests at the Mariposa Hotel Inn have local history just a short walk away. The often burned/often rebuilt Mariposa Jail is still standing in its 1892 form and was refashioned with huge 24” granite blocks to resist the flames. The gallows that originally stood at one end of the jail are, fortunately, gone. The Mariposa County Courthouse (1854) is the oldest Superior Courthouse still in use west of the Rockies, and originally served one-fifth of California’s residents adjudicating everything from mining rights to murders.
The Loft at 1850
When you stay at the Loft at 1850 there’s no need to call an Uber after you’ve sampled the bonanza of craft brews downstairs at the 1850 Restaurant. This bright farmhouse-styled studio sleeps 6 with 1 bedroom (2 beds), kitchen, pull out queen bed in living room and laundry room. If beer isn’t your thing the Loft makes an excellent home base to explore historic old town Mariposa right outside your door.
Perfect Pairing: What better complement to beer & burgers than wine & art? A short walk along the main drag takes visitors to the storefront tasting room of Casto Oaks Fine Wine & Art This winery uses locally-grown grapes from their Mt. Bullion Vineyard in everything from Zinfandel Rosé to Flagship Cab and Syrah Port.
Yosemite View Lodge
El Portal, CA
The riverfront Yosemite View Lodge has the unique distinction of being the closest resort to Yosemite Valley that’s located outside the Park’s gates. 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.
Neighborhood Flow: The Merced River near El Portal features several day-use picnic areas ideal for snacking, laughing and getting a healthy dose of Vitamins D, not to mention Vitamins R&R!
The Silver Burrito. The Toaster On Wheels. The Silver Bullet. All are names for the iconic AirStream trailer, which has been put to brilliant use in Yosemite Mariposa as a space colony of glamping joy set amid the oak & pine. Located seven miles from downtown Mariposa and 37 miles from Yosemite Valley, AutoCamp Yosemite features a range of aluminum-clad suites, a seasonally-heated pool, trailer-side grills and host experiences such as Say Om Beneath the Trees (complementary yoga sessions) and Happy Hour in the Clubhouse (with occasional live music).
Silver Bullet Points: Immerse yourself in the sparkling Sierra night while stargazing the Yosemite Mariposa County skies as you gather around the communal fire pit with fellow travelers.
Tent Cabin in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley, CA
Though the structures themselves are no frills, tent cabins get our “unique” label for the simple reason that they’re located in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet: Yosemite Valley. Visitors can stay in the shadow of Glacier Point at Curry Village, where canvas-wrapped wooden structures have wood floors & doors plus electric lights. Bedding/towels are provided, and heated tent cabins are available in winter. Located along a sandy stretch of the Merced River about a half mile to the west, Housekeeping Camp offers visitors another option to leave their tents at home with its 3-sided cement structures that have canvas roofs and privacy curtains, not to mention an outdoor patio space with views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome nearby. Electrical outlets provided, but no space heaters allowed.
Valley Vigor: With so many iconic sights to see in Yosemite Valley, rather than pick a favorite why not see them all…on a free bike! Sponsored by the Yosemite Conservancy and the National Parks Service, Yosemite Bike Share is a unique program where you download the app, unlock a bike and start pedaling. Zero emissions, zero dollars!
The Library Suite at the Ahwahnee Hotel
Yosemite Valley, CA
For visitors who want to curl up with a good book in the lap of Sierra luxury, the Library Suite at the internationally-famous Ahwahnee Hotel beckons. Located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, the Library Suite consists of two parlors: the Underwood Room, featuring a king bed and leaded glass windows with an impressive view of Yosemite Falls; and the Tresidder Library, featuring dark wood paneling, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, sofa sleeper and comfy chairs situated in front of a crackling fireplace. Uniquely expensive, yes, but the coziness and elegance will make any book a page-turner.
Bookworm Bustle: For a deep dive into Yosemite arts, history & culture check out the Yosemite Research Library. Located on the second floor of the Yosemite Museum, a dedicated librarian holds court over 5 million items in the collection. Want a head start on your studies? Try the National Parks Service online catalogue and immerse yourself in all things Yosemite.
These unique Yosemite Mariposa lodgings are just a few of the options visitors have as they explore the glorious Sierra Nevada mountains and the region’s rich history. Fluff a pillow in any one of these Yosemite Mariposa County accommodations while knowing that your dining needs will be amply met by a wide range of local restaurants with equally distinctive style and taste. Most importantly? Sleep well. You’ve earned it!
Dream until your dream come true