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Where to stay when visiting Yosemite

There are charming B&Bs nearby, and occasional cancellations for rooms inside the park.

March 21, 2011|By Mike Morris | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Where once stood a Miwok village in Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahnee's stacked boulders and heavy beams serve park visitors who carry fat wallets and plan well ahead. (Reservations for the 99 hotel rooms and 24 cottages disappear fast.) For a glimpse of its grand public rooms, reserve a meal or just walk through. Info: (801) 559-4884,
Where once stood a Miwok village in Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahnee's… (Kenny Karst / DNC Parks &…)

With more than 4 million people visiting Yosemite National Park last year — and that number expected to increase this year — it's no wonder lodging inside the park is snatched up quickly.

"We typically sell out during the summer season," Delaware North Cos. spokeswoman Lisa Cesaro said of its Yosemite accommodations (Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Curry Village and the housekeeping camp on the Merced River; the Wawona Hotel, and in the back country, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, White Wolf Lodge and the High Sierra camps). "Now and then there can be a cancellation and people can get lucky," she said.

The same is true for the park's 13 campgrounds, which are operated by the National Park Service. Campgrounds can be reserved five months in advance; hotel rooms and other lodging in the park can booked up to 366 days in advance at or (801) 559-5000.

Many visitors are forced to look outside Yosemite's boundaries for accommodations, especially during the peak summer season. Although lodging outside the park can fill up quickly too, there are more options, from tents to yurts to historic hotels and charming inns.

Below are three resorts, plus some other places to stay along the state highway corridors — 140, 120 and 41 — leading into the park. When Tioga Pass is open, lodging can also be found along U.S. Highway 395 and in the tiny town of Lee Vining (

Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort

Location: 6979A Highway 140, Midpines, Calif., about 20 miles from the park's Arch Rock entrance.

Amenities: This hip retreat offers hotel-style rooms, canvas tent cabins and a hostel. Private rooms with baths have themes from psychedelic to Victorian. There also are private rooms with a shared bathroom. Like Curry Village in Yosemite Valley, the Bug has tent cabins that can accommodate couples and families. The dormitory-style hostel, which caters to backpackers on a budget, has a kitchen and is licensed with Hostelling International.

The Bug's cafe is housed in a funky lodge where people gather over a pint of beer or game of chess. Its menu includes buckwheat blueberry pancakes ($6) for breakfast and meat and vegetarian options for dinner (entrees from $8.50 to $18).

Guests can follow a strenuous hike up Yosemite Falls or Half Dome with a stop at the Bug's spa. Services include yoga, massages, facials and a hot rock sauna. The Bug's forested property also has a seasonal swimming hole.

Cost: Starting May 1, a private room and bath for two is $115 a night, plus tax, and an insulated tent cabin costs $65, plus tax. The hostel is $25 a person, plus tax, for non-Hostelling International members (members pay $22).

Info: (866) 826-7108,

Nearest town: Mariposa, about 10 miles west, caters to tourists visiting the park. The town's Main Street has a variety of antique and gift shops sandwiched between clusters of hotels, ranging from chains such as the Best Western Yosemite Way Station ([209] 966-7545) to those independently owned and operated.

The River Rock Inn has seven affordable rooms, a deli garden cafe and occasional live music ([800] 627-8439, For other options, check out the Yosemite-Mariposa Bed and Breakfast Assn. at

On Mariposa's Main Street, the Butterfly Cafe (Mariposa is Spanish for "butterfly") features a Half Dome burger with avocado, bacon and blue cheese for $10.95. The cleverly named Pony Expresso, just off Main Street on Lower 5th Street, sells fresh-roasted coffee and local ayurvedic teas.

Mariposa has a historic courthouse and two museums: the California State Mining and Mineral Museum at the Mariposa Fairgrounds and the Mariposa Museum and History Center, which focuses on the area's rich Gold Rush history.

Yosemite Lakes Camping Resort

Location: 31191 Hardin Flat Road, Groveland, Calif., off Highway 120, about five miles from the park's Big Oak Flat Entrance Station.

Amenities: Those looking for an alternative to the typical hotel room will enjoy the cozy yurts at this camping resort. There are 14 hillside yurts, six along the South Fork of the Tuolumne River and two in a meadow near the river. Each has a kitchen, bathroom, satellite television and deck with a grill. The yurts are heated and open year-round. There's a two-night minimum stay on Fridays and Saturdays. Most yurts sleep four people. Guests have access to free wireless Internet, a Laundromat, a miniature golf course and other recreational activities. Yosemite Lakes also accommodates recreational vehicle and tent camping.

Cost: From May 1 until Oct. 16, hillside yurts are $166.24 a night, plus tax; river yurts are $206.99, plus tax.

Info: (800) 533-1001,

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