Yosemite Mariposa County is a roaring realm of recreational opportunity. And at the heart of it all is fabled Yosemite Valley. While Yosemite National Park covers 1,200 square miles, the Valley is bite-sized by comparison at just 7 square miles. Good things do come in small packages! From snow-globe glee in winter to spring waterfall hydro-technics, to the all-access recreational buffet of summer to autumn’s brilliant palette and hues, Yosemite Valley is one of America’s top outdoor destinations with a bounty of lodging options.
Why Make Yosemite Valley Your Base Camp?
Accommodations inside Yosemite Valley share storybook scenery and front-of-the-line access to the majestic waterfalls and sky-scraping granite domes and walls that make Yosemite National Park so unforgettable. Plus, you can reach all the world-class trails and scenic vistas on foot, or via the free valley shuttle. From a heralded national park lodge to back-to-basics campgrounds, there’s something to appeal to the entire gamut of travelers. Here are some of Yosemite Valley’s best places to stay.
Hotels in Yosemite Valley
Synonymous with the peak of Yosemite National Park accommodations, The Ahwahnee is an American classic mountain lodge, rustically hewn from steel, stone, and wood. When it opened its doors in 1927, it became one of the crown jewels among national park lodges and a must-visit destination within Yosemite Valley. Today it’s an iconic National Historic Landmark.
Surrounded by views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point, guests hardly need to leave the grounds of the Ahwahnee to immerse into the essence of Yosemite. Inside its massive front doors, expansive spaces like The Ahwahnee Dining Room and Great Lounge are wonderful places to linger, with soaring ceilings, broad stone fireplaces, hand-carved furniture, and stained-glass windows. Guest rooms and suites capture the fascinating details of the property’s illustrious past.
Yosemite Valley Lodge is another park classic, and its across-the-street proximity to Yosemite Falls and family-forward amenities make it a perennial favorite. The Merced River flows adjacent to the hotel and the lodge’s outdoor swimming pool makes this a great place to cool off after a day exploring the Park. Tours of the Park leave directly from the lodge, and nearby, there’s a bike rental stand for two-wheeled touring. In the evenings, Yosemite Valley Lodge’s outdoor theatre is the stage for popular ranger presentations.
Founded in 1899 with a dozen tents, Curry Village timelessly represents the trademark hospitality of its founders, David and Jennie “Mother” Curry. Today, this National Historic District remains a prized place to stay featuring standard hotel rooms, wood cabins and wood-framed canvas tent cabins. Numerous dining options and activities are available year-round.
Curry Village tent cabin guests can stay in wood-framed canvas tent cabins with wood floors and electric lighting (but no electrical outlets). Heated tent cabins are available over the winter. Central showers and bathrooms are shared, and guests get clean sheets, wool blankets, pillows and towels during their stay. Tasty dining options are available at Curry Village.
Campgrounds in Yosemite Valley
Camping amid the granite boulders, melodic river and lush forest of Yosemite Valley leaves visitors feeling well-grounded. Located above a sandy bank of the Merced River, Yosemite Housekeeping Camp offers visitors a great option to camp while leaving their tents at home. Units feature three-sided cement structures with electricity that have canvas roofs and privacy curtains, and then there’s that view: patios that look out on Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.
North Pines, Lower Pines and Upper Pines are three reservation campgrounds that together offer more than 350 sites surrounded by the super-scenery of Yosemite Valley. Camp 4 is a first-come, first-served option that is popular with rock climbers and van lifers. Sites are limited and the line for reservations forms early each morning at the ranger kiosk.
Plan Ahead for Priceless Park Memories
With its range of accommodations, Yosemite Valley lodging is the true center of the Yosemite experience. From affordable campgrounds to luxury lodges, there’s a comfort level and price point for nearly everyone while year-round activities beckon just outside your door. Insider tip: the allure of this uniquely beautiful realm is strong, so book early for the best selection.
As Sierra sage John Muir said, “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” Ready? Let’s go!
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.