Yosemite Hotels

Evaluating hotels in Yosemite is a whole different ball game than reviewing places to stay in say, a large city. The choices are quite limited with only 4 hotels within the parks' boundaries, ranging from the grand Ahwahnee, to the casual Wawona. And given that these hotels are pretty much the only services around, their guests tend to make up a captive audience, so you may need to adjust your expectations.

Ahwahnee Hotel
Ahwahnee Hotel credit: Rennett Stowe some rights reserved

Needless to say, hotel rooms at Yosemite are going to be relatively expensive compared to more accessible hotels offering comparable amenities. Of course, Yosemite has something that urban environs just don't have. It's all about location. And the breath-taking scenery is the reason that hotel rooms in Yosemite often need to be booked months in advance.

The Ahwahnee
1 Ahwahnee Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389. If you want an unforgettable Yosemite experience, and don't mind the pricey rates, then the Ahwahnee should be a definite consideration for lodging. The hotel opened in 1927, and has since been named an historical national landmark. Its impressive architecture was one of the inspirations for Disney's Grand Californian hotel at Disneyland in Anaheim. The hotel's design pulls off the trick of taking nothing away from the surrounding beauty of the Sierras, and the tasteful decor has influences of both Native American and American Colonial. The fact that a hotel of this caliber exists amid such rugged, breathtaking scenery is a wonder in itself. And make no mistake, that's really what your paying for here - the incredible location. Do not expect the hotel itself to measure up to your favorite 5 star! Keep in mind that because it is an older hotel, there may be drawbacks with smaller rooms, thin walls, and signs of general wear and tear. That being said, there are 123 rooms at the Ahwahnee, which are almost always occupied, so you'll need to make your reservations months, if not a full year in advance. Rates range from $320 to $495 a night, depending on the season.
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
1122 Highway 41, Fish Camp, CA 93623.Phone: 1-888-514-2167. A less expensive alternative to the Ahwahnee, is the Tenaya Lodge, located two miles from the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. While lacking the Ahwahnee's history and architectural grandeur, the scenery is no less majestic, and after a recent $3 million renovation, the rooms are on average, more modern and more comfortable. The staff is friendly and their up-scale Sierra Restaurant offers five course meals. The hotel also offers casual dining. Its location does put it farther away from Yosemite's attractions than some people would like. There are 244 rooms and suites at the Tenaya, and rates average about $235 a night, though in winter you can usually get a significant discount.
Wawona Hotel
8308 Wawona Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389. Phone: 1-866-875-8456. Located about 4 miles inside the south entrance of Yosemite, this is the least expensive hotel located within the boundaries of the park. It's not for everyone. On the one hand, what you have here is a nice traditional Victorian hotel on landscaped grounds, with beautiful scenery. On the other hand, this is also an old hotel that needs renovation, and only 50 of its 104 rooms have private baths. Also, the only nearby Yosemite attraction is Mariposa Grove. There are many frequent guests who enjoy the simplicity, casualness, and sense of community offered by it's porches, lobby fireplace, and piano lounge. However, if you're looking for amenities, you should look elsewhere - the rooms don't even have phones. Rooms will generally run you about $150 a night if you want a private bath, about $115, if you don't. Winter rates are somewhat cheaper.
Yosemite Lodge At The Falls
9004 Yosemite Lodge Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389. Phone: (559) 253-5635. The main thing this hotel has going for it is location. It is not only the closest hotel to Yosemite Falls, but it's also relatively close to just about all of the major attractions at Yosemite. The food is okay and the regular rooms are rather basic. The "Lodge" rooms are nicer with a king bed (or two doubles) and a patio or balcony. None of the rooms offer air conditioning. Lodge rooms run about $170 a night, and standard rooms about $125. In the off-season, the rates are about $10-$30 cheaper.