Where to stay in Yosemite National Park, including the best hotels, campgrounds, and vacation rentals inside and outside the park.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Yosemite and over the years I’ve gotten to know the ins and outs of Yosemite lodging on a pro level.
One thing is for sure: finding a place to stay in Yosemite feels like a contact sport.
Many of the campgrounds in Yosemite book up within minutes of opening up for the season, and as of 2022, there are no first-come, first-served campgrounds.
The hotels can be just as challenging and the fact that this is a huge park with districts very far away from one another can add to the challenge.
Fret not. Below, I’ve laid out where to stay in Yosemite including the best hotels in Yosemite, where dogs are allowed, where to find the biggest chocolate truffles on the planet, and other critical vacation intel.
Plus, I’ve included all the best places to stay just outside the park for those who like to plan their vacations last-minute (like me!).
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What are the Best Areas to Stay Inside Yosemite National Park?
There are four districts within Yosemite National Park and all of the districts’ accommodations fill very quickly (~6 months in advance).
Due to the high elevation of the Wawona, Tuolumne, and Mather districts, these locations are typically open in summer only. Yosemite Valley is the only district with hotels open year-round.
This is the most popular destination within Yosemite National Park and includes most of the main attractions like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls.
Yosemite Valley has the most lodging options of any other district, including hotels, tent cabins, and campgrounds.
This is the most central location in the park and where I would recommend staying, especially if you only have one or two days in Yosemite.
The Wawona district includes popular destinations like Glacier Point Road, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, and the historic Wawona Hotel.
The Wawona district is located on Highway 41 and is closest to Yosemite’s south entrance and the towns of Fish Camp and Oakhurst.
Tuolumne is the high country in Yosemite National Park and is accessible via Highway 120 east, (aka Tioga Road or the Tioga Pass entrance).
Tuolumne features Tenaya Lake and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. It has a few accommodations including White Wolf Lodge and several campgrounds.
Tuolumne is just over an hour from Yosemite Valley and is closest to the towns of Lee Vining and Mammoth Lakes.
Tuolumne is known for being quieter and cooler in temperature than Yosemite Valley and can be a nice respite from the valley craziness.
The Mather district of Yosemite includes the Hodegedon Meadows Campground and is accessible via Highway 120 west, also known as Big Oak Flat Road.
The entrance here is known as the Big Oak Flat entrance. The Mather district includes the Hetch Hetchy Dam as well as a few small groves of giant sequoia trees.
The closest town to the Mather district is Groveland, CA.
Looking for what to do once you’re inside the park? Read our guide on the best things to do in Yosemite National Park.
What are the Best Areas to Stay Outside of Yosemite National Park?
The closest towns to the south entrance of Yosemite National Park are Fish Camp and Oakhurst, all on Highway 41.
While Fish Camp offers the closest accommodations to the park, Oakhurst is larger and offers traditional grocery stores and plenty of restaurants.
These quaint mountain towns are closest to the Wawona district of Yosemite and are about an hour’s drive to Yosemite Valley.
You’d likely enter through the south entrance if you’re coming from Southern California.
Arch Rock Entrance
The Arch Rock entrance is located along Highway 140 and is closest to the towns of El Portal and Mariposa.
You’d likely enter via Arch Rock if you’re coming from the Bay Area or Northern California.
These two towns are very small but have the added benefit of putting you the closest to Yosemite Valley without staying inside the park.
If I had to pick one place to stay outside of the park it would be El Portal because of its proximity to Yosemite Valley (~25 minutes without traffic).
Big Oak Flat Entrance
The Big Oak Flat Entrance comes through the small town of Groveland on Highway 120 West.
This is another popular entrance for those coming from San Francisco and is a good place to come in from if you’re interested in seeing Tuolumne.
Groveland is a very small town as well but has lots of history about the California Gold Rush.
Tioga Pass Entrance
This is the only entrance to the park on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and is where you’d enter the park from Las Vegas or Death Valley.
The closest towns to this entrance are Lee Vining and Mammoth Lakes.
Lee Vining is very small but is closer to the park entrance, while Mammoth Lakes is larger and has more amenities.
These small towns are great for anyone looking for a quieter Yosemite experience. Just note that Tioga Pass closes from October to May every year.
Where to Stay Inside Yosemite National Park
The Ahwahnee Hotel
Who’s it for: Vacationers ready to splurge.
The Ahwahnee Hotel is a historic hotel located in the heart of Yosemite Valley and includes 99 hotel rooms and 24 cottages.
The building was constructed in 1927 as a way to attract business to the brand new National Park Service (ha! That is not a problem today).
The Ahwahnee was designed by famous architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood. The building features a gorgeous wood-paneled dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and rustic candelabras dangling from the ceiling.
In addition to the posh atmosphere and giant fireplaces, the Ahwahnee Hotel includes a bar, sweet shop (with the biggest truffles on the planet), and a pool.
Each hotel room comes with air conditioning and WIFI (which is hard to get in Yosemite Valley). Just note that the Ahwahnee doesn’t accommodate guests with pets.
The Ahwahnee Hotel was designed to be a first-class hotel and it maintains that distinction today.
This is the priciest place to stay in Yosemite National Park and reservations are booked six months out, especially during the summer.
Note also that there is a small town called Ahwahnee between Oakhurst and Mariposa outside the park. Don’t get confused!
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Who’s it for: Families with kids or pets.
The Yosemite Valley Lodge is a more budget-friendly place to stay in Yosemite National Park.
If you’re looking for where to stay in Yosemite with kids or pets, the Yosemite Valley Lodge is your best bet.
In fact, except for the campgrounds, the Yosemite Valley Lodge is the only pet-friendly place to stay in the park.
The Yosemite Valley Lodge is located right across the street from Yosemite Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in North America. It’s also very close to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.
Each of the rooms at “The Lodge” has air conditioning and WIFI (albeit not fast enough to stream movies).
The facility also has a pool and a full-service dining option called the Mountain Room. There used to be a Starbucks at the Yosemite Valley Lodge but it’s being converted to another coffee chain as of 2022.
Since this is one of the best places to stay in Yosemite Valley for families, it books up fast. You should be looking at booking hotels in the Valley a minimum of six months in advance.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants something that’s halfway between a campground and a hotel.
Curry Village primarily offers canvas tent cabins that include beds with linens and electricity. The tent cabins are lined up in rows reminiscent of summer camp with a few bathroom buildings scattered throughout the facility.
If summer camp isn’t your thing, there are also a few cabins with private bathrooms.
Curry Village has a shower house, outdoor pool, bike rentals, and a popular eatery called the Pizza Deck.
This Yosemite lodging option is in clear view of Half Dome and you can see Yosemite Falls from here as well.
Note: You may still see some brochures calling Curry Village “Half Dome Village.” This was due to an intellectual property dispute between the former concessionaire operator that was resolved in 2018.
Who it’s for: Large families and groups
Housekeeping Camp is a series of three-sided shelters with bunk beds and wooden partitions on the open side. These “cabins” have electricity and shared bathroom facilities.
This is where to stay when visiting Yosemite if you’ve got a large family reunion, boy scout group, or any other large, rambunctious group.
Housekeeping Camp is located right on the Merced River and has a wide-open beach next to it. Plus, it’s very close to Curry Village and within walking distance to the Valley Visitor Center.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a quiet stay in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite Valley features most of the main attractions in Yosemite, but it can get busy to the point of being overwhelming for some people.
The Wawona Hotel is another historic hotel accommodation in Yosemite located near the south entrance to the park on Highway 41.
The Wawona Hotel is a Victorian-style National Historic Landmark with 104 rooms. Each of the buildings at the Wawona has long, wrap-around porches.
This is a great location to access the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, the historic stables nearby, as well as Glacier Point.
Not only is this area of the park quieter than Yosemite Valley, but this accommodation emphasizes disconnecting from technology.
There’s no WIFI in Wawona and the rooms don’t have phones or TVs. Instead, you can enjoy live piano playing in the lobby, sit by the fireplace, or enjoy the pool.
White Wolf Lodge
Who’s it for: Those looking to escape the summer heat.
White Wolf Lodge hasn’t been open since 2020 but will have a very short opening season in 2022 (July 8-September 7).
The two things I like most about the White Wolf Lodge are the solitude and the temperature.
This Yosemite National Park lodging only has 24 tent cabins and is located in the Tuolumne Meadows area of the park.
Tuolumne is at a high elevation along Tioga Road and stays cooler in the summer than Yosemite Valley.
White Wolf Lodge also fosters a quaint sense of community.
To keep wildlife wild, guests are not allowed to cook inside the tent cabins (this is also true of Curry Village). Instead, you’ll gather together for meals in a rustic central dining room.
Campgrounds in Yosemite National Park
Who’s it for: Budget-conscious travelers who love being in nature.
If a majestic Yosemite hotel isn’t in the travel budget this year, don’t forget about all the camping opportunities Yosemite has to offer.
Especially now that restrictions are starting to ease up there are a few more camping options available.
Important 2022 Update: Camp 4, located in Yosemite Valley, used to be the only first-come, first-served campground in Yosemite National Park, but as of 2022 you are required to have a reservation for it too.
There are no same-day campground reservations available and all reservations must be made on recreation.gov.
You cannot make a reservation in person in the park and, naturally, the best campsites in Yosemite will get snapped up within minutes of becoming available.
As always, check the park website for the most up-to-date information on camping. Below I’ve summarized the updates for this year.
- Upper Pines
- Lower Pines
- North Pines
- Camp 4
- Tamarack Flat
- White Wolf
- Yosemite Creek
- Hodgdon Meadow
Closed Yosemite campgrounds (as of 2022)
- Tuolumne Meadows
- Crane Flat
- Bridalveil Creek
- Porcupine Flat
I’ve seen almost every campground in Yosemite in person and I would say the best campgrounds in Yosemite are the out-of-the-way ones like Yosemite Creek or Hodgdon Meadow.
Some of the Valley campgrounds can feel kind of overrun and busy (but maybe that’s just me).
Where to Stay Outside of Yosemite National Park
Who it’s for: Anyone who simply wants fast access to the park.
Honestly, El Portal is kind of a strange little town. There isn’t much there except a few hotels, a gas station, and a small corner market.
Despite this, I still rank it as the best place to stay outside Yosemite National Park because it’s closer to Yosemite Valley than even other districts in the park.
From El Portal, it takes about 25 minutes without traffic to reach Yosemite Valley. If you want the ease of access, this is the next best thing to staying inside the park.
Best Hotels in El Portal
Yosemite View Lodge
The Yosemite View Lodge is where to stay near Yosemite National Park to be as close as humanly possible to the park entrance.
Literally, you could throw a rock and hit the park boundary. The Yosemite View Lodge is adjacent to the Merced River and provides excellent swimming holes in the summer
The Cedar Lodge in El Portal is a fairly standard accommodation with the main feature being its proximity to Yosemite National Park.
Tucked into a shady corner of the Highway 140 canyon, with access to the Merced River and shady picnic spots, this is a great option for those whose main objective is to be close to the park.
Who it’s for: Those traveling with large RVs.
Mariposa is a small mountain town located along Highway 140 and is about an hour from Yosemite Valley.
Mariposa has several popular restaurants, two small grocery stores, and a health clinic (you won’t find one of these in most other towns adjacent to Yosemite).
The entrance into the park from Highway 140 is much less winding and steep than the Highway 41 or Highway 120 entrances. Therefore, it’s a good option for those with RVs or those traveling in bad weather.
Plus, if you’re coming from San Francisco, it’s only a few minutes longer than the Highway 120 entrance.
Best Hotels In Mariposa
Mariposa Hotel Inn
The Mariposa Hotel Inn is an insanely quaint hotel in a historic 1901 building.
Each hotel room is decorated with custom, period-authentic decor, yet still includes modern conveniences like air conditioning and WIFI.
5th Street Inn
The 5th Street Inn is another charming small hotel option in Mariposa with excellent guest services and immaculately clean rooms.
This hotel also features uniquely decorated rooms with a large wrap-around porch for guests to lounge on.
Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
The Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort is outside of Mariposa in the very small community of Midpines, but it’s darn close to Mariposa, so I’m lumping them together.
“The Bug” as the locals say, has a spa and sauna and is tucked away in a cozy little mountain retreat atmosphere. Mariposa isn’t too far away, so it’s easy to duck into town to grab a bite to eat.
Best Vacation Rental in Mariposa
Papillon Cellars – The Loft
Papillon Cellars – The Loft is a newly renovated private loft apartment in Mariposa featuring a private balcony, air conditioning, bathroom, and kitchenette.
The property here sits on a small vineyard and would make a great romantic getaway.
Who it’s for: Those who want close access to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Fish Camp is a very small community located close to the south entrance to Yosemite along Highway 41.
If you’re coming from Southern California, you’ll likely enter via this entrance, which is very close to the famous Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Best Hotel in Fish Camp
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
The Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is the closest lodging near Yosemite on Highway 41.
It’s a modern resort with a mountain lodge feel and a full-service spa and fitness center.
The Tenaya Lodge is also pet-friendly and has a gift shop to pick up snacks and souvenirs. In addition to the services included, you can book guided nature walks through the Tenaya Lodge.
Best Vacation Rental in Fish Camp
Treetop Cottage is an adorable A-frame cabin with modern woodsy decor and amazing lighting thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows.
It’s only 12 miles from the south gate of Yosemite and five miles from Bass Lake, another popular nearby lake.
The cottage includes WIFI (not to be taken for granted in mountain towns, let me tell ya) and a gas fireplace. This private cabin also has a patio and full kitchen and sleeps four.
Who it’s for: Southern California vacationers in need of more services.
Oakhurst is 10 miles from the south entrance to Yosemite and about an hour and a half from Yosemite Valley along Highway 41.
It’s a larger town than Fish Camp and includes lots of places to eat as well as normal grocery stores.
My favorite place to pick up a snack is the Oakhurst Fruit Stand, which has the best fruit in the area.
Best Hotel in Oakhurst
Sierra Sky Ranch
Sierra Sky Ranch is a lodge-inspired mountain retreat that started as a cattle ranch and eventually became a guest ranch in the 1940s. The newly updated rooms come with air conditioning and WIFI.
The cozy wood-paneled Branding Iron Restaurant and Saloon serves traditional American fare and the outdoor pool is a great place to cool off in the summer.
Best Vacation Rentals in Oakhurst
Modern 1 Bedroom Near Yosemite and Bass Lake
This Modern 1 Bedroom apartment is an entire apartment with amazing reviews.
The quaint little space has free parking, a BBQ grill, and a kitchenette. If you’re trying to find a stay near Yosemite and want to still save money, this could be a good option for you.
The Waterfall Lodge is a 2,000-square-foot house with three beds and three baths that sleeps 15.
This entire home is 10 minutes from downtown Oakhurst and about 30 minutes from the south gate of Yosemite.
This space also has enough parking for an RV or boat and includes an outdoor fire ring on the deck.
Who it’s for: Those exploring Hetch Hetchy or Tuolumne.
Groveland is a lovely mountain town known for its connection to the California Gold Rush.
It’s about 30 minutes from the Big Oak Flat Entrance to Yosemite and about an hour from Yosemite Valley. If you pass through Groveland, be sure to stop at the Mountain Sage coffee shop for a drink.
Groveland is the biggest, closest town to the park entrance, but you may also find lodging options in Buck Meadows, which is even closer to the park.
Both Groveland and Buck Meadows are close to the Hetch Hetchy area of the park (part of the Mather district) and Tuolumne/Tioga Pass.
Best Hotels in Groveland
All Seasons Groveland Inn
The All Seasons Groveland Inn is a small bed and breakfast-style cottage 23 miles from Yosemite National Park.
The building was built in 1899 and converted into a guest lodge in 1999. The inn offers a full hot breakfast and is right across the street from the Pine Mountain Lake Championship Golf Course.
Rush Creek Lodge
Rush Creek Lodge is technically located in Buck Meadows, but in reality, it’s right outside the Big Oak Flat Entrance on Highway 120.
Rush Creek Lodge is a hotel and spa with a full restaurant and bar, a giant outdoor pool (with outdoor bar), two hot tubs, plus a kids’ playroom and a nightly s’mores bar.
Set among Stanislaus National Forest, this little island oasis has pretty much everything you need on-site.
Rush Creek Lodge is about 45 minutes from Yosemite Valley and would be a great stopover for those coming from San Francisco.
Best Vacation Rentals In Groveland
Lake Lodge Home
Lake Lodge Home is situated on the shores of Pine Mountain Lake and is about 30 minutes from the Big Oak Flat Entrance to Yosemite.
This is a massive 7 bedroom, 4 bathroom house that was recently renovated in a cozy-clean lodge style.
This is a great option for a quiet family gathering. The hosts are very keen on not having ragers here and pets aren’t allowed.
Who it’s for: Travelers coming from the eastern Sierra.
Lee Vining is a tiny eastern Sierra outpost located at the junction of Highway 120 and Highway 395.
Lee Vining’s location is a great jumping-off spot for local hikes outside Yosemite National Park. If you’re coming from Las Vegas or Tahoe/Reno you’ll likely enter the park through Lee Vining.
Best Hotel in Lee Vining
Yosemite Gateway Motel
The Yosemite Gateway Motel is a family-friendly, no-frills hotel about 45 minutes from the Tioga Pass entrance of Yosemite National Park.
What this motel lacks in frills it makes up for with location. In addition to being the closest to the Tuolumne district of the park, Lee Vining is adjacent to Mono Lake as well as an endless abundance of hiking and biking trails.
Best Campground in Lee Vining
Lower Lee Vining Campground
Lower Lee Vining Campground is a Forest Service-run campground right off Highway 120 coming out of the park.
This campground has 51 sites, but no drinking water (you can get water in Lee Vining).
Unlike the campgrounds in Yosemite, this campground is first-come, first-served. Another benefit to this campground is that it’s often less busy than the ones inside the park.
Who it’s for: Mountain bike and ski lovers.
Mammoth Lakes is an eastern Sierra Nevada gem known for Mammoth Mountain, the ski and mountain bike resort.
Since mountain biking isn’t allowed in Yosemite National Park, bike lovers have to find somewhere else to play.
Mammoth Lakes is about two and half hours from Yosemite Valley, but about an hour from the park entrance.
Mammoth Lakes is the farthest from the park, but I included it because it’s such a good base for exploring the eastern Sierra region.
Whether you plan to visit Yosemite National Park, Tahoe, Bishop, or you’re on a road trip from Death Valley, this little mountain town is still a great stopping place even if it’s a little farther from the park.
Want to learn more about this mountain gem? Read our guide to the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes.
Best Hotels in Mammoth Lakes
The Tamarack Lodge is a historic lodge located on the shore of Twin Lakes.
The lodge dates back to the 1920s and offers guests all kinds of outdoor fun packages, including mountain bike lessons, nature hikes, and fly fishing classes.
The Village Lodge is where you should stay near Yosemite National Park if you love skiing.
It’s directly adjacent to the ski lifts at Mammoth Mountain and features an outdoor heated pool and five hot tubs. I love that. Who wants to share a hot tub ever? No one!
Each of the private condos at the Village Lodge includes a fireplace and balcony with a kitchenette (or full kitchen depending).
Best Vacation Rentals in Mammoth Lakes
Condo in the Grand Sierra Lodge
This one-bedroom, one-bathroom private condo in the Grand Sierra Lodge is right downtown (the Village), fits up to four guests, and is adjacent to the ski gondola!
By staying here, you also get access to amenities at the Grand Sierra Lodge like the gym, pool, and hot tub.
Golf Course Townhome
The Golf Course Townhome is a private condo with two bedrooms and two bathrooms located next to the Sierra Star Golf Course.
The condo is decorated with retro-style ski equipment, includes a full kitchen, washer/dryer, BBQ grill, and a patio that overlooks the golf course.
Get your FREE California Travel Planner – including printable checklists and my favorite two-week itinerary for the state.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!
Looking for more Sierra Nevada travel inspiration? Read our related posts below!
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