When we started planning our first family vacation to San Francisco, with Yosemite as unmissable side trip, we knew one thing: we had to book Yosemite accommodation as early as possible as the best places to stay in Yosemite National Park in high season get booked out up to one year in advance!
The fear of being late with our booking was heightened by another issue: what are the best places to stay in Yosemite anyway? The parks is so big, is a location better than another? And is staying outside the park a viable option, should Yosemite accommodation be out of the question?
We put a lot of research into this trip and we only found some of the answers after being ourselves in the park: so, hoping to help you plan your stay, now I am writing this guide to the best places to stay in and near Yosemite National Park.
This post covers the best Yosemite summer lodging options and shows our selection of the best places to stay in Yosemite National Park both in and outside Yosemite Valley as well as some suggestions for accommodation outside but still near the park.
How to choose the best places to stay in Yosemite National Park?
Yosemite is a large park, stretching over an area of 3,027 km² and offering a large number of accommodation options, ranging from campgrounds to elegant hotels.
The best way to pick your preferred accommodation in Yosemite national park, I believe, is to look at the facilities you want easy access to and the type of lodging experience you are after. In terms of facilities, Yosemite offers:
Facilities inside Yosemite National Park
- Food and beverage are at Yosemite Village, The Majestic Yosemite Hotels, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Half Dome Village.
- Books, gifts and apparel are in Yosemite Village, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge,Half Dome Village, Nature Centre at Happy Isle
- Garage and Post office are located in Yosemite Village
- Yosemite valley is rich with sightseeing opportunities and activities such as hikes, naturalists programmes, Cycling and rafting opportunities and tours. Access to the valley floor is guaranteed by the Park free shuttle service.
- Dining room, groceries, post office, gas station and gifts and apparel are for sale at the Big trees Lodge.
- Groceries, Grill, Dining room, gifts and apparel, post office, gas station
How much in advance should you book Yosemite accommodation?
Yosemite offers a plethora of accommodation options ranging from campsites, to cabins to high end hotels.
The lodging options vary significantly in price and style but they all have one thing in common: the best places in Yosemite sell out very fast, often up to one year in advance.
The good news is that most places have good cancellations policies and many people do indeed cancel. Especially if looking at the busy months, from May through to September, our recommendation is that you book as soon as possible. Make sure you check regularly should you not get what you want on your first attempt.
Should you stay inside or outside Yosemite National Park?
Accommodation in Yosemite is in several locations, in and outside Yosemite Valley and both in and outside the park. If you can, we recommend you stay in the park as distances are long and the driving will eat into your time in the park significantly.
Below you will find our selection of some of the best lodging in Yosemite with info on what to expect.
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Where to stay in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite valley is the glacial valley at the heart of Yosemite National Park. It is where you see most of the most famous park attractions and what you have seen immortalized in the iconic Ansel Adams photos.
Yosemite Valley is accessible by car and it is where most of the activities take place. You can read all you can do in Yosemite valley in our family guide to Yosemite here.
Lodging options in Yosemite Valley abound.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel: best place to stay in Yosemite for special occasions
If you want to treat yourself to something special, look no farther than the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, formerly called ‘The Ahwanee’. This is a historical hotel who has welcomed presidents and notable guests since 1927, when it opened.
The hotels is expensive and different from other properties in the same price range because if its rustic style. The hotel has free WI-FI, restaurant on site, cocktail lounge, outdoor swimming pool and a gift shop and caters also for families.
Please be aware that the dining room enforces a dress code (no sneakers, shorts etc): pack accordingly.You can find travellers reviews here
Yosemite Valley Lodge: best place to stay in Yosemite for views
Yosemite Valley Lodge, formerly Yosemite Lodge at the falls, is an excellent place to stay in Yosemite because of its convenient location in the valley and the stunning views you get from some of the rooms.
The hotel is nicely appointed and has an eco-friendly theme running through its over 240 rooms.
The hotel caters for families with large rooms and has amenities such as restaurant on site, gift shop, outdoor amphitheater, swimming pool, post office and WI-FI. The hotels also offer electric scooters and bicycle rentals which we recommend. You can find reviews of the lodge here
Half Dome Village: best place to stay in Yosemite for family camping
Half Dome Village, formerly Curry Village, offers motel room, cabin and canvas tent cabins.
It is very well served with restaurants (buffet style) and cafes on site, an outdoor space for ranger activities, shops and an outdoor swimming pool. If you are staying in the canvas tents the facilities are shared but well kept.
We stayed here with the kids and it was perfect for a family. The canvas cabins were big enough for the four of us, you get a bear-proof box outside your tent and parking is nearby.
In Half dome village you can rent bikes and have a swimming pool which makes it a popular choice with families with kids.
Where to stay in Yosemite with kids? we loved the simple but handy facilities of Half Dome Village
Housekeeping camp: best place to stay in Yosemite for easy camping
Housekeeping camp is located along the Merced river, in a lovely spot with stunning views of Yosemite. The accommodation here is basic but you get a deck and a BBQ pit which mean you can cook.
Make sure you store your food properly and never in the tent or the car as bears will get to it!
Best places to stay near Yosemite Valley (still inside the park)
Yosemite is big and many accommodation options are inside the park but a drive away from Yosemite Valley.
These are some of our favourites.
Big Trees Lodge, best hotel in Yosemite for historical charm
Located 27 miles from Yosemite Valley, close to the stunning Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, Big Trees Lodge (formerly The Wawona hotel) welcomes visitors in a Victorian-era lodge dating back to 1856.
The hotel has facilities such as restaurant on site (beautiful!), golf course and swimming pool. In winter it also offers opportunities to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.
Wawona is a bit of a drive to the valley, about 45 minutes, but it is lovely and family friendly. Please note that this location has been closed since 2016 and it’s due to reopen in the spring of 2018.
I stayed here during my first time in Yosemite and felt it was one of the best places to stay in Yosemite with kids: we had 3 in our group and everyone loved it.
White Wolf Loge, best for tranquility
If you prefer to stay away from the crowds, this can be a good choice.
Located in the High country off Tioga road, White Wolf lodge offers canvas cabins plus a limited number of cabins with private bath.
This is a great base for hikes and a perfect choice to enjoy Yosemite’s nature. Please note that no cooking is allowed in or outside the cabins but there is a central dining room.
Toulumne Meadows Lodge, best for switching off from the world
Toulumne Meadows is located 60 miles from Yosemite Valley and is a great base for hiking. Here you have tent cabins accommodating up to 4 guests.
The place is perfect if you want to switch off from daily life since the cabins have no electricity or phones. You can find exact info on cellular reception in Yosemite here
High Sierra camps, best for adventure
Adventure lovers may love the high sierra camps, locations you can only reach by foot or saddle! The camps are in areas of ‘outstanding natural beauty’ and they are so popular reservations are assigned by lottery. You can find info here.
Other high rated hotels in and near Yosemite National Park
On top of those mentioned, there are many more hotels in and near Yosemite and good quality bed and breakfast that we recommend you check out. They include:
- Sierra Trails Inn (Booking.com rating of 9.5)
- Highland House B&B (Booking.com rating of 9.4)
- Trout Creek Lodge (Booking.com rating of 9.3)
- Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite (Booking.com rating: 9)
- Tenaya Lodge (Booking.com rating of 8.5, very popular with families, we know many who stayed and loved it. Check out reviews here)
I hope this overview with the best places to stay in Yosemite national park was useful. Have a lovely stay!