Extraordinary natural landscapes and iconic landmarks make Yosemite one of the most popular and best USA national parks. However, such popularity creates a common challenge for those planning a vacation to the park – where are the best places, hotels and lodges to stay in Yosemite?
More to the point, what types of lodging are available? And how far in advance should bookings be made?
Well, we can tell you from experience that booking hotels, campgrounds and lodges at Yosemite will require you to be organized, adaptable and flexible.
On the contrary, lodging at Yosemite is similar to lodging at Yellowstone. Both parks are enormous and the only alternatives to official national park service lodging are cabins, lodges and hotels in small villages or towns within striking distance of the park.
We’re going to walk you through all major lodging options inside Yosemite, plus the best hotels, lodges and cabins in ideally located places near Yosemite. We will also include details for Yosemite’s famously ‘always full’ campgrounds.
Let’s get your Yosemite hotels booked early and your vacation off to the best possible start!
Important 2023 Update: Good news! You do not need an advanced reservation to visit Yosemite National Park in 2023. The only exception is weekends in February for those who want to see Horsetail Fall ‘on fire’. See the NPS website for more information.
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Your Yosemite Itinerary
The time of year you visit Yosemite and your exact travel plans will both play vital roles in where you end up staying when visiting Yosemite National Park.
Here are two examples:
- Example 1 – You want to spend 3 nights in Yosemite on a weekend in the middle of summer and you plan to hike the best trails in Yosemite Valley.
You will need to be very organized and get your Yosemite hotel bookings made as soon as you know dates, months in advance. Seriously, the minute you have dates, start booking.
- Example 2 – You plan to spend 2 weekday nights at a hotel in Yosemite during spring or fall for a Yosemite photography trip.
You have both the flexibility and the shoulder season factor so you stand more chance of booking a last minute hotel room in Yosemite.
Yosemite is a huge park, traditionally separated into 3 areas; North Yosemite, Yosemite Valley and South Yosemite. We think 3 full days is the perfect amount of time for a first time visit to Yosemite, one day for each of the areas.
Planned your Yosemite itinerary? Read our popular guide on how to plan the perfect 1, 2 and 3 days Yosemite itinerary to see the best ways to spend your time in the park.
Start And End Points For Your Trip
Are you visiting Yosemite on a roundtrip from San Francisco? Maybe you’re driving a California road trip or even a longer Western US road trip?
Either way, your route will impact on where to stay in Yosemite for the most efficiency.
For example, if you start in Las Vegas and visit Death Valley on the way to Yosemite, you can stay a night in Mammoth Lakes before spending your first day in Yosemite on the north side of the park along Tioga Pass Road.
Remember, you don’t have to book the same hotel, cabin or campground for each night of your visit to Yosemite. You could spend 4 nights in different hotels if it is more logical for your itinerary.
In fact, we always try to book different hotels for each night at US national parks to maximize efficiency.
Do you need help planning your visit to Yosemite National Park?
Our popular 50 page Yosemite Guidebook and Itinerary covers every aspect of planning a trip to Yosemite including hikes, hotels, restaurants, getting around, things to do and so much more!
Yosemite Itinerary Examples With Hotels
Let’s take a quick look at some examples of how you could visit Yosemite with the best places to stay.
Example 1 – You are visiting Yosemite from Los Angeles.
- Mariposa Hotel – Drive up from LA after work to arrive at a hotel in Mariposa. Spend one night here and wake up early for your first full day in Yosemite, starting with the south side of the park.
- Yosemite Valley Lodge – Book 2 nights at a lodge in Yosemite Valley or a hotel in El Portal. Spend your second day hiking and exploring the top attractions, then drive along Tioga Pass Road and explore the Sequoia groves on your third day.
- Big Oak Flat Road Hotel – Book a one night hotel stay somewhere along Big Oak Flat road, then set off back for LA the next morning.
Example 2 – You are visiting Yosemite from San Francisco.
- Yosemite Valley Lodge – Book 2 nights at a lodge in Yosemite Valley or a hotel in El Portal. Set off early from SF and spend your afternoon hiking in Yosemite Valley. On your second day, drive along Tioga Pass Road and explore the Sequoia groves before heading back into the valley.
- South Yosemite – Book a one night hotel stay at either Fish Camp or Oakhurst. Spend your third day exploring the south side of Yosemite including Glacier Point Road. Drive back to SF the next morning.
Our Yosemite Lodging Experience
Yosemite is in such high demand that hotels and lodging inside the park is notoriously difficult to secure, particularly during peak season.
We visited Yosemite in October as part of our first 3 month western US road trip.
We were booking our hotels a week or two in advance due to regular changes to our itinerary.
After leaving Death Valley in late afternoon, we stayed at a cheap hotel in Mammoth Lakes close to Yosemite east entrance. So we began our first full day in Yosemite stopping along Tioga Pass Road before arriving into Yosemite Valley.
No lodges, hotels or cabins were available or affordable inside Yosemite for any of our nights at the park. Some had closed for the season and others were fully booked or too expensive for our budget at the time.
So, we tried the campgrounds. Only Upper Pines had 1 night free out of the 3 nights we wanted to stay in Yosemite. We booked that 1 night at Upper Pines but needed to book 2 more nights.
Ideally, we didn’t want to be based too far from Yosemite. Therefore, we looked for hotels, lodges and cabins near Yosemite Valley and fortunately found a canvas-cabin with 1 night available near El Portal.
All that was left was to find a hotel for the night after we finished our final day in Yosemite. It didn’t matter about distance from the park as we wouldn’t be going back the next day and we found a great hotel in a nearby town called Mariposa.
The take home is that you can book into as many different places as you need to make your trip work.
Yosemite National Park Lodging
Yosemite is one of the most popular places to visit in the US so you’ll need to be organized and plan ahead if you want to stay at a hotel inside the park.
Is it better to stay inside Yosemite National Park?
The major benefit to staying inside Yosemite is that you can wake up and have no driving at all to reach hikes or attractions. But you will pay for the considerable convenience and every bed in the park will fill up way in advance.
Let’s take a look at all of the lodging options you have inside Yosemite National Park.
1. The Ahwahnee
Yosemite’s historic crown jewel and most upscale hotel The Ahwahnee is arguably the best place to stay in all of Yosemite National Park.
The Ahwahnee has a perfect location close to the top hikes and surrounded by granite domes. You will have access to a heated swimming pool, a stunning dining hall, as well as lounge and bar area.
However, you also need a seriously healthy travel budget! You’ll be looking at somewhere around $500 per night.
Consider staying at The Ahwahnee in the middle of your Yosemite itinerary, as long as you have the budget.
The Ahwahnee in Yosemite Valley is open year round.
2. Wawona Hotel
Wawona Hotel is a Victorian style hotel located 29 miles South of Yosemite visitor center and takes around an hour to drive. This is the only other traditional hotel lodging inside Yosemite National Park boundaries.
The historic hotel has a seasonal outdoor pool, a 9-hole golf course and a quaint dining hall for guest to eat at each mealtime throughout the day.
Due to its location in the south of Yosemite, consider staying here for one night either at the beginning or end of your itinerary as you enter or leave the park. It is also one of the best places to stay in Yosemite for return visitors who want to spend more time around Glacier Point Road.
Wawona Hotel in Yosemite is typically open between the end of March and the end of November.
3. Yosemite Valley Lodge
Yosemite Valley Lodge is a fantastic place to stay if you can find availability because it bridges the gap between location and cost.
The far more affordable Yosemite Valley Lodge is just a stones throw from Yosemite Falls and at half the price of The Ahwahnee, it is more realistic for the majority of visitors to the park.
Yosemite Valley Lodge is the overall best place to stay inside Yosemite Valley.
For around $200 – $300 per night you will find an outdoor pool, cozy rooms and a food court with ‘Mountain Room‘ dining hall.
Yosemite Valley Lodge is open all year and it is ideal for families, couples, larger groups or solo travelers.
Deal: During the winter season only, if you book 2 nights at Yosemite Valley Lodge you get the third night free.
- Check availability for the Yosemite Valley Lodge.
- See if you can beat the price on Booking.com and Hotels.com.
4. Curry Village
Curry Village is located at the base of Glacier Point in Yosemite Valley, not far from Upper Pines Campground. The trailhead for Mist Trail and Half Dome is very close to Curry Village lodging, which makes this one of the best places to stay in Yosemite for hikers.
At Curry Village you will find heated or unheated canvas tents, lodges and standard rooms. Tents have better availability and cost between $100 – $150 per night.
There are amenities on site such as coffee shop, grill, pizza place, bar and seasonal outdoor pool. Again due to the central location of Curry Village, it is better to spend a night or two here in the middle of your Yosemite itinerary.
Curry Village is typically open April – October.
5. Other Lodging Inside Yosemite National Park To Consider
1. Housekeeping Camp – Similar to glamping, you can stay in three sided concrete rooms with canvas roof in bunk bed style accommodation. On site camp store provides food for you to cook at night and location in the valley is prime time. Great in Summer. More information or check Tripadvisor price.
2. White Wolf Lodge – 30 miles from Yosemite Valley, along Tioga road (perfect location for visiting North Yosemite) is White Wolf Lodge. 24 canvas tent cabins and 4 traditional cabins open between June and September. More information or check Tripadvisor price.
3. Tuolumne Meadows – 60 miles away from the valley and 30 miles further along Tioga road towards Yosemite east entrance is Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. You will find 69 canvas tent cabins open between June and September. More information or check Tripadvisor price.
6 Best Places To Stay Near Yosemite National Park
Once you leave the Yosemite National Park boundary, you can book hotel rooms, cabins, tents or anything else you can find using traditional booking methods.
If you plan to spend a night before and / or after visiting Yosemite in a hotel, this section is where you will find the best hotels in all of the most popular areas near the park.
You can also choose to stay outside the park for your entire visit to Yosemite to save money, just be aware you will have to drive in and out of the park each day.
In truth, if you book late or want to visit Yosemite in peak season, you might not have a choice but to stay outside the park at a hotel in one of the areas below.
Nearby vacation homes, yurts and cabins can be unjustifiably expensive for what you are getting, so our advice is to use our recommendations, research and find the best price vs convenience ratio.
We’re going to walk you through some excellent hotel options near each entrance to Yosemite. Every hotel includes a guest rating out of 10 as per Booking.com.
You also might be interested in reading our guide about how to save money on hotels guide next.
1. Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes is a lovely ski resort town with traditional alpine lodges and a gondola. It is the major built up town closest to Yosemite National Park east entrance.
Without question, Mammoth Lakes is the best place to stay near Yosemite if you’re driving up from Las Vegas, Death Valley or anywhere else southeast of Yosemite.
You can pick up a hotel room to suit any budget in Mammoth Lakes, wake up and within 30 minutes you are on Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite’s north region.
Of course if you are leaving Yosemite and do this route in reverse, Mammoth Lakes becomes the perfect place to stay on your way to Death Valley or Las Vegas.
Best Hotels In Mammoth Lakes CA
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels in each budget for Mammoth Lakes.
- Tamarack Lodge – Cheap (8.8 / 10)
- Alpenhof Lodge – Mid Range (8.1 / 10)
- The Village Lodge – Luxury (8.6 / 10)
- Westin Monache Resort – Luxury (8.6 / 10)
Planning to stay in Mammoth Lakes? Read our complete guide to the 10 best hotels in Mammoth Lakes CA for every budget.
2. El Portal + Incline
El Portal and Incline are tiny areas located 5 miles apart along the Merced River near Yosemite Valley. It is just 9 miles from El Portal and 14 miles from Incline to the loop road in Yosemite Valley.
These two areas aren’t close to being big enough to be considered villages or towns, but both El Portal and Incline have one hotel option each that are perfect for visiting Yosemite National Park.
El Portal is the best place to stay near Yosemite National Park for convenience.
It is a short drive in and out of the park each morning and evening, which means El Portal should be top of your list if you can’t get or don’t want lodging inside Yosemite Valley.
Incline is just a little further away and makes up the second most convenient place to stay for Yosemite.
The only downside to El Portal and Incline is a lack of places to eat with just two options called The River Restaurant and Parkside Pizza, both of which are in El Portal.
You might want to consider taking a cooler full of snacks and non-perishables.
Best Hotels In El Portal + Incline CA
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels in El Portal.
Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal has almost 7,000 reviews on Booking.com, which makes it one of the most stayed at hotels near Yosemite National Park.
Mariposa is a reasonably built up small town near Yosemite National Park. It is 43 miles southwest of Yosemite Valley which means quite a drive in or out of the park, but it is a great little town.
In Mariposa you will find a good selection of hotels near Yosemite to suit all budgets. However, because it is so far away, we suggest you use Mariposa as a night before or night after Yosemite hotel stay.
If there are no hotels available in El Portal (#4 below), Mariposa might be your next best bet for easily accessing Yosemite Valley. It is also a good backup plan for last minute bookings.
Best Hotels In Mariposa CA
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels in each budget for Mariposa.
- Miners Inn – Cheap (7.8 / 10)
- The Monarch Inn – Mid Range (8.0 / 10)
- Mariposa Lodge – Mid Range (8.0 / 10)
- Best Western Plus – Mid Range (8.1 / 10)
- The Yosemite Inn – Mid Range (8.2 / 10)
- Yosemite Plaisance – B+B (9.6 / 10)
- Becky’s Condo – Vacation Home (9.5 / 10)
4. Fish Camp
Fish Camp is located 35 miles to the south of Yosemite’s south entrance. There are a dozen or so vacation rentals and 3 traditional lodges in the Fish Camp area.
Best Hotels In Fish Camp CA
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels in each budget for Fish Camp.
- White Chief Mountain Lodge – Cheap (7.8 / 10)
- Narrow Gauge Inn – Mid Range (8.4 / 10)
- Tenaya Lodge – Luxury (8.4 / 10)
Tenaya Lodge is a very popular place to stay near Yosemite and has thousands of positive reviews on Booking.com.
Oakhurst is the major built up area close to the south side of Yosemite National Park. It has far more amenities, restaurants and hotels.
At 42 miles and 1 hour 15 minutes drive time, Oakhurst is another excellent option for where to stay the night before arriving or the night after leaving Yosemite National Park.
However, if you prefer to stay somewhere that has a better selection of places to eat and a wider range of hotels to suit every budget, you can stay in Oakhurst for your full Yosemite itinerary.
We highly recommend Smokehouse 41 BBQ for dinner and Southgate Brewing Company for a beer if you decide to spend a night in Oakhurst.
Best Hotels In Oakhurst CA
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels in each budget in areas along Big Oak Flat Road.
- Yosemite Southgate Hotel – Cheap (8.7 / 10)
- Queen’s Inn by the River – Cheap (8.5 / 10)
- The Oakhurst Inn – Cheap (8.0 / 10)
- Best Western Plus – Mid Range (8.8 / 10)
- A Bed of Roses – Luxury B+B (8.7 / 10)
- Hounds Tooth Inn – Luxury (9.2 / 10)
6. Big Oak Flat Road
Big Oak Flat is the road leading to Yosemite Valley from the west. It is the most direct road to take if driving to or from San Francisco.
Buck Meadows and Groveland are located along Big Oak Flat Road. Buck Meadows is 45 minutes drive from Yosemite Valley, but Groveland is closer to 1 hour.
You can book cheap hotel rooms in both places.
Big Oak Flat Road is an excellent place to stay after leaving Yosemite so you can spend a full day in the park before getting an early start the next morning to be in San Francisco for brunch.
If you want to be even closer to Yosemite Valley, take a look at both Evergreen Lodge and Rush Creek Lodge. Both are excellent hotel options close to Yosemite but they come at a higher cost.
Best Hotels On Big Oak Flat Road CA
Let’s take a look at the top rated hotels in each budget in areas along Big Oak Flat Road.
- Buck Meadows Lodge – Cheap (7.8 / 10)
- Yosemite Westgate Lodge – Mid Range (8.1 / 10)
- Evergreen Lodge – Luxury (9.1 / 10)
- Rush Creek Lodge – Luxury (9.0 / 10)
Camping at Yosemite is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of nature inside one of the most amazing landscapes in the United States.
In summer camping is a wonderful way to visit Yosemite on the cheap. However, if you thought lodges inside the park were difficult to book, Yosemite’s famous campgrounds make hotels look like a walk in the park.
If you want to book a campsite at one of the four campgrounds in Yosemite Valley between May and September, you have to be flexible, book way in advance and be very lucky.
We know camping isn’t for everyone, but by staying in one of these sites, you have all of Yosemite’s best attractions right outside your tent zipper.
Read more information about booking campgrounds in Yosemite here.
Here’s a summary of each Yosemite campground:
- Upper Pines – Reservations required, available to book 5 months in advance, 238 sites, $26 / night.
- Lower Pines – Reservations required, available to book 5 months in advance, 60 sites, $26 / night.
- North Pines – Reservations required, available to book 5 months in advance, 81 sites, $26 / night.
- Camp 4 – Late May through early September campsites are only available through a daily lottery one day in advance (information here). September through May Camp 4 is first come first served but fills early and is $6 / night.
We stayed at Upper Pines, the classic and most sought after campground in Yosemite. Apart from being freezing cold at the end of October, it was great. We had anti-bear storage units, bathrooms and plenty of room for our site among the trees.
Our tent was more like a small house made of feathers. It was blown down at both Badlands National Park and Death Valley. So we were grateful to have so much protection in the trees at Upper Pines!
Where To Stay In Yosemite FAQ’s
Let’s take a look at some of the most asked questions about the best places to stay in Yosemite National Park.
Staying inside Yosemite is more convenient for hiking trails and sightseeing but rooms are expensive, highly sought after and have very few options for eating out. Staying outside Yosemite is less convenient for sightseeing and hiking, but hotels are cheaper and some of the smaller towns nearby have a far better selection of places to eat.
Booking in advance for hotels both inside and near Yosemite is vital if you want to find the right hotel at a reasonable price. If you plan to visit Yosemite in summer you need to book your hotel as soon as possible. You stand a better chance of booking a last minute room in spring or fall but prices will be higher.
Need Help Planning Your Trip To Yosemite?
Yosemite is a spectacular landscape and a firm favorite among nature enthusiasts. But it is also one of the more challenging US national parks to plan.
We have created a 50 page guidebook filled with key information and expert advice, example itineraries for hikers and non-hikers, plus all essential things you need to know for planning and when you are on site in Yosemite.
If you want to make the most of your trip to Yosemite, our guidebook is the perfect resource for you.
Our Popular Yosemite Guides
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- Itinerary – How to plan the perfect 1, 2 and 3 days Yosemite itinerary
- Photography – Best photo spots around Yosemite National Park
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Want more California content? Head to our California Travel Guides to explore National Parks, popular road trips and things to do in major cities of the sunshine state.
We hope this guide helps you with planning exactly where to stay in Yosemite National Park!
Please let us know if you have any questions about the best places to stay in Yosemite or need help planning you visit in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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