The Yosemite Mariposa County experience is all about regions What you’ll find waterfall-hopping in Yosemite Valley is worlds apart from the dome-dotted, high-country expanse of Tuolumne Meadows, while the Gold Rush mojo of downtown Mariposa is a lively counterpoint to the rolling, oak-studded ranch lands of Southern Mariposa County. Each region brings its own vibe, and its own activities, yet exploring them all requires one constant: choosing where to sleep.
The region of Glacier Point Road is that dream vista where Yosemite’s gargantuan scenery snaps into focus. Climbing to the South Rim of Yosemite Valley, the views along this curvy mountain road are otherworldly as you gaze down into Yosemite Valley and across to the peaks of the Yosemite backcountry. Lodging near Glacier Point Road is all about the cozy enclave of Yosemite West. With over 100 vacation rentals, it’s the perfect base camp for everyone from romantic couples to groups of friends and family, boasting a range of amenities that guarantee getting tucked in near Yosemite Valley’s breathtaking overlook will be a restful proposition.
Why Stay Near Glacier Point Road?
The benefits of lodging near Yosemite – Glacier Point Road are many, but let’s begin with that ol’ bon mot: location, location, location. Using Yosemite West (just 1 mile from the turnoff to Glacier Point Road) as our starting point, its proximity to surrounding destinations provides an open and shut case for touring success: 10 miles to Yosemite Valley; 15 miles to the Glacier Point Lookout; and 12 miles to Wawona. Added bonus? The journey along these peaceful, forested roads is as satisfying as the destination itself.
In late fall, the gate to Glacier Point Road closes just beyond Badger Pass Ski Area, but when one gate closes another one opens — in the form of sublime winter activities. Established in 1935, family-friendly Badger Pass delights skiers and snowboarders with fresh Sierra powder, while snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding are easily accessed from the far end of the free parking lot.
The out & back drive along Glacier Point Road climbs to over 7,000 feet at the South Rim of Yosemite Valley as it snakes through the forested plateau. Notable vistas are Dewey Point, which faces El Capitan, and Taft Point, which faces the Three Brothers and Yosemite Falls, offering up-close views of these park legends. Both are easy-to-moderate hikes from Glacier Point Trailheads, with the popular Sentinel Dome providing a geologic gratuity for those who want to scamper up its granite flank.
The end of the road at Glacier Point Lookout is the pièce de résistance when it comes to breathtaking views. Here, the iconic profile of Half Dome feels close enough to touch, while the peaks of Yosemite backcountry stand watch to the east. For those considering a backdrop to remember for their Yosemite wedding, photographs taken at Glacier Point always seem to capture your good side, and if you want an equally impressive but less-visited spot for those intimate moments check out Washburn Point just a mile away.
When you stay near Glacier Point Road, the enclave of Wawona is a breezy 20-minute drive south along Highway 41. With an activities-to-square mile ratio that’s unmatched, this wooded valley has just about everything. Waterfall fans can hike the strenuous Chilnualna Falls Trail to one of Yosemite’s best-kept secrets, while those who want a cool dip can experience Yosemite swimming at its finest at the Wawona Swinging Bridge and Swimming Hole. History buffs can explore the Yosemite History Center — a collection of historic buildings and informative plaques that describe the early days of the Park, including the contributions of the AAPI community. Oh, and there’s a 9-hole golf course hidden tastefully between the pines and horseback riding at the Wawona Stables. Ratio, indeed!
Vacation Rentals Near Glacier Point Road
The name of the overnight game near Glacier Point Road is Yosemite West. Perched on a ridge at nearly 6,000 feet, this historic community of 200 rental properties and private homes is as central as it gets with the dramatic Merced River Canyon winding below and the Buena Vista Crest soaring above. Yosemite West provides a range of stays from cozy cabins to modern lodges, and most of the properties are managed by Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders whose offices are located in the neighborhood should you need any additional assistance during your visit.
Yosemite West began as part of the Yosemite Lumber Company, which retained the rights once the Park was formed in 1890. The road into the community is a repurposed railroad bed where trains once transported felled timber down steep slopes to points west. Fun fact: Though you need to enter Yosemite National Park to reach Yosemite West, it’s technically outside the Park making it the closest community of private homes just beyond the divide.
Amenities at Yosemite West properties include fireplaces and hot tubs for romantic getaways, wi-fi for workcations, and modern kitchens for cooking those festive family meals. The neighborhood of Yosemite West also works for multiple families or larger groups to book several adjacent houses providing some extra space for quiet time should things get a little too…busy.
Yosemite West is an ideal base camp for winter activities at nearby Badger Pass Ski Area, and in summer for numerous trails right outside your door to such places as Alder Creek Falls, 11-Mile Meadow, and the Henness Ridge Fire Lookout. Of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Yosemite Valley is just 10 miles away. Location, location, location!
Camping Near Glacier Point Road
Set at 7,200 feet amid a forest of lodgepole pine and red fir, Bridalveil Creek Campground is the only campground along Glacier Point Road. There are three loops featuring 108 sites, plus a horse camp, and the flat terrain is dotted with petit mounds of granite perfect for the kids to do their best Sir Edmund Hillary impersonation. The campground is flanked by Bridalveil Creek — the very same waterway that feeds Yosemite Valley’s famous Bridalveil Fall.
Nearby trailheads lead to the aforementioned Yosemite Valley vista points — Dewey, Taft, and Glacier — plus satisfying hikes to Ostrander Lake, the Bridalveil Creek Loop, and, if you’re feeling ambitious, the 15-mile (one-way) Pohono Trail via McGurk Meadow which descends over 3,000 feet into the Valley. Be sure to confirm your ride back to camp — attempting the round-trip is not advised with such a dramatic elevation gain. Note: Bridalveil Creek Campground is typically open from July through September, once the snow has given way to a soft, sun-kissed mat of pine needles. Ah, nature’s pillow.
Rest On High
Over 150 years have passed since the Mountain House (1870-1897) opened along Yosemite Valley’s south rim, and though the Glacier Point Hotel (1918-1969) has given way to a more natural state of affairs in this special corner of the Park, the opportunity (and impulse) remains to explore its alpine majesty. Whether that’s hiking, skiing or simply taking in some of the world’s most amazing views, a stay near Glacier Point Road is sure to guarantee the three R’s: recreation, rest, and renewal.