Yosemite national park is one of the great wonders of the natural world and attracts millions of visitors every year. Unfortunately there are not millions of rooms and campsite available within the park and the hotels are very costly. If you are travelling to Yosemite it is essential to plan ahead.
The points of interest and hiking trails in the park are largely at some distance from the entrances and so if you don’t secure accommodation inside the boundaries then you are going to have a significant drive every morning before you can explore the park. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I will come to that later.
There are two hotels in the centre of the action in Yosemite Valley. The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge are wonderful places to stay but would challenge most travellers’ budgets. The cabins and tent cabins at Curry Village, House Keeping and Tuolumne Meadows (Tioga Road) are cheaper options but are also in great demand and a reservation should be made at the earliest opportunity.
If you plan to camp then there are 13 sites across the park but only four in the valley itself. If you don’t manage to grab a pitch in the valley then you will be forced to move your RV around to see the sights or use some other form of transport to get to and from your tent. Staying in the valley gives you access to the free shuttle buses to move around freely.
The sites for each period are released on specified days a few months in advance and can sell out in a matter of hours and some of the sites are allocated on the day of your visit on a first come first served basis. If you are taking and RV it is worth exploring the available pitches in advance of booking day to source the site numbers that are big enough to accommodate your vehicle. Make a note of these and when booking day arrives you will be able to negotiate the reservation procedure more quickly giving you a much better chance of success.
If you don’t manage to find lodging within the limits of the park then it doesn’t have to be a disaster. There are many beautiful vacation properties available for rent in the surrounding areas. These give you an opportunity to explore the wonders of the regions outside the park and can be a much cheaper solution especially for family groups. There are no self-catering properties in the park apart from rudimentary cabins with camp fires so if you want to provide your own food then renting a house is a more satisfactory option. I can highly recommend Pine Mountain Lakes, a mountain community built around a lake, which is 40 minutes from the park’s Northern entrance. Staying here opens up the delights of Gold Country and the properties are wonderfully peaceful.
It would be hard not to enjoy a trip to Yosemite wherever you stay. With the breath-taking scenery, the delights of the wonderful and iconic trails, the high granite peaks and the diversity of the wildlife there is an embarrassment of riches! Just remember, it is essential to research your options and book your property well in advance otherwise you may have to postpone your trip for another year. Happy Camping!
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Sally Stacey is a keen writer and frequent traveller for whom Yosemite is the best destnation on the planet!