Yosemite Mariposa County is a rambling roller coaster ride of magical recreation. Pairing where to stay with your vacation wish list is key to maximizing your overall happiness. Backcountry hiking? Historic Gold Rush towns? Near bars, restaurants, water sports, or Yosemite National Park must-sees? The lodging choice is considerable, and ultimately customizable to your interests and itinerary.
Follow the Merced River from some lodging along Highway 140 in Central Mariposa County straight into Yosemite National Park.
With the awe-inspiring stage of Yosemite National Park just a short drive away, towns gilt with Gold Rush legacy, and the Wild & Scenic Merced River running through it, Central Mariposa County is the obvious choice to make your base camp.
Historic town and county seat, Mariposa is filled with landmarks and legends of the California Gold Rush. It’s also where to find the greatest selection of vacation accommodations in Yosemite Mariposa County. When you add museums, antique and boutique shopping, foodie-fired restaurants, convivial bars – it’s all “Eureka!” worthy.
Spring greets visitors with stunning roadside wildflower displays along Highway 140 in Central Mariposa County. Stop and smell the flowers along the trail out to Hite Cove.
Between Mariposa and Yosemite along Highway 140 are the mini-hubs of Midpines and El Portal. Midpines is all about green trees and high hills, a great place to relax and hike. Staying in Midpines also opens up sandy-banks access to Briceburg and the Merced River Recreation Management Area. The Merced tumbles with seasonal force downhill from Yosemite Valley. In spring, it’s a whitewater-rafting staging area. When summer arrives, the river slows down for refreshing swimming and fishing.
El Portal holds tight to the banks of the Merced River, just upriver from Midpines and 3.5 miles from the Park’s Arch Rock Entrance. The town was a bustling stage stop in the early days of Yosemite tourism and today boasts a wonderful outdoor display of authentic equipment from the historic Yosemite Valley Railroad.
Romantic getaways, family forays, Sierra outdoor rec center – Central Mariposa County checks every box. The Quality Inn Yosemite Valley Gateway offers the right balance of value and amenities, with a convenient location on Highway 140 in the center of old town Mariposa. The Best Western Plus Yosemite Way Station in Mariposa is another familiar national-brand option, and offers free hot breakfasts to help you get your day rolling.
The Mariposa Inn in downtown Mariposa combines a sense of the area’s unique history with comfortable and convenient lodging.
For something more bespoke, the Mariposa Hotel Inn stands on the original site of a Gold Rush-era hotel and saloon that welcomed many a miner. The current building dates to 1901 with wonderful indoor/outdoor spaces like the Garden Veranda (great for bird watching) overlooking the Mariposa Creek Parkway. Bring your own bottle and nibbles to enjoy the veranda before heading out to dinner.
Recently renovated and pet-friendly, the Mariposa Lodge is located in downtown Mariposa and walking distance from shops, restaurants, tasting rooms, galleries and museums. Garden courtyards, free parking, tour desk, an outdoor pool and giant whirlpool spa create an oasis-like base camp.
Located in Midpines along Highway 140 and just 25 miles from Yosemite National Park’s Arch Rock entrance, AutoCamp Yosemite boasts a flashy armada of Airstream travel trailers converted into hotel suites. AutoCamp Yosemite honors the spirit and tradition of camping but at the same time offers elevated amenities including a pool, hot tub, and scenic roof deck. There are hiking trails nearby and an on-site YARTS shuttle stop for easy access to Yosemite National Park.
Both savvy and chic, Autocamp Yosemite combines getting back to nature with deluxe glamping accommodations – in a finely appointed Airstream trailer, tent cabin, or regular cabins that sleep up to 5.
Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort delivers a signature lodging experience with Golden State spirit. The Bug’s range of accommodations is impressive, ranging from private cabins with forest-view decks to timber-framed tent cabins and a trio of vacation rentals. Adding to the allure is the Yosemite Health Spa complete with aromatic soaking tubs, massage, hot tub and yoga studio. The kitchen at the June Bug Café creates some of Yosemite Mariposa County’s most scrumptious fare.
In El Portal, Yosemite Cedar Lodge scores high marks for family travelers and offers some of the closest outside-the-park accommodations to Yosemite Valley. Across the grounds, whimsical carved bears peek through trees and around corners. The lodge offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spas, and its very own Merced River Walk that leads to the lodge’s private sandy beach. The Cedar Lodge Restaurant is a tasty option for home-style cuisine in a split-level setting.
If the beautiful views of the Merced River don’t tempt you, Yosemite View Lodge also offers outdoor swimming pools and the closest lodging to Yosemite National Park.
Also in El Portal, the riverfront Yosemite View Lodge has the unique distinction of being the closest resort to Yosemite Valley that’s located outside park gates. With most rooms having personal balconies overlooking the Merced River, it’s a great place to feel the ever-changing flow of the river. The only scenic constaints are the soaring canyon walls on either side of the property. Yosemite View Lodge has a nice pop of amenities including the two restaurant options, seven hot tub spas, convenience store and 120v outlets in the parking lot for EV charging.
Tucked into the Sierra National Forest and just outside the park’s southern entrance, Tenaya at Yosemite is one of the top destination resorts in all the California Sierra. Talk about a base camp for recreation: its proximity to Yosemite National Park, two miles up the road, is matched by a teeming menu of on-property activities – guided hikes, mountain biking, archery, rock climbing, snowshoeing, ice skating, Yosemite tours, and more. Tenaya offers three distinct guest experiences including Tenaya Lodge, the Cottages, and the Explorer Cabins.
Nestled in the Sierra National Forest, close to the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, Tenaya at Yosemite delights visitors with a wide range of amenities and on site activities.
Vacation cabin rentals are a win-win lodging option for many in Yosemite Mariposa County. More space, creature comforts like well-equipped kitchens and hot tubs, and in many cases, valuable pro tips curated by local hosts boost the value. Private management companies, airbnb and VRBO properties are bountiful across Central Mariposa County, providing private vacation home and cabin rentals to visitors.
Just a few central Mariposa vacation rental examples for consideration: Tip Top Inn, Sunny Pines Cottage, Copper Lodge, River House, The Loft at 1850, Tenaya’s Retreat, Hites Cove Hideaway, Green Cabin, and Yosemite Straw Bale Home.
Enjoy all the comforts of home with a vacation rental home stay in Central Mariposa County. Pictured: The LOFT at 1850.
Getting down to earth in central Mariposa County comes naturally. Just south of old town Mariposa off Highway 49, the Mariposa Fairgrounds offer year-round camping and tent cabins tucked inside a verdant garden of lawns, flowers, and shade trees within its gates.
Tent cabins are available year-round with the rare 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.
Under the radar camping outside Yosemite on BLM land in Central Mariposa County provides excellent under-the-radar camping experiences.
With a striking setting near the Merced River in the Briceburg and Midpines area,
McCabe Flat, Railroad Flat and Willow Placer campgrounds are all managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This under-the-radar area is rich with scenic hiking and water play possibilities, and the historic Briceburg Suspension Bridge (c. 1926) makes for a fantastic in-the-field photo op.
Staying overnight in Central Mariposa County puts you right in the heart of the classic Yosemite experience. The lodging options are legion, the amenities four-star, and the location legendary. By selecting well-located lodging, you’ll take the first step toward maximizing vacation happiness – our common goal! Wherever you choose to sleep, Central Mariposa County will animate your dreams with visions of good times just around the bend.