Choosing where to stay in Yosemite is something I recommend you do many months in advance, especially if you’re planning to visit this National Park in the summer.
The reason is not only because there are few accommodations within the Yosemite National Park, but also because hotel prices in Yosemite skyrocket when the high season approaches.
The same happens if you prefer to camp in Yosemite. Most of the campgrounds inside Yosemite Valley are booked in the blink of an eye, and booking a camping spot during the high season is the most similar thing to winning the lottery.
In our case, we wanted to be as close to nature as possible and experience the feeling of being in the climber’s historic camping below the famous “El Capitan,” so we decided to try sleep in Yosemite in the legendary Camp 4.
Traveling in August and with no reservation, we thought it would be impossible to sleep in a camping in the middle of Yosemite Valley. However, if you keep reading, you’ll find a little trick to get a spot at the most popular campsite in Yosemite.
You’ll find all the information you need about where to stay in Yosemite in our Yosemite accommodation guide:
- Where to stay inside Yosemite National Park
- Where to sleep near Yosemite National Park
- Camping in Yosemite
If you prefer to stay in hotels during your visit to Yosemite National Park, don’t worry. We’ve also gathered the best quality hotels located near the main points of interest.
Where to stay in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, so it’s necessary to book your accommodation months in advance.
In case you travel in a few weeks, I recommend checking hotels near Yosemite directly. Also, it will probably be cheaper for you.
These are the leading hotels within Yosemite National Park:
The Ahwahnee, the best hotel in Yosemite
The Ahwahnee, formerly known as The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, is Yosemite’s most luxurious hotel.
The dining room is the most remarkable thing of this hotel, and it’s the epicenter of the historic Christmas Party that is celebrated in this hotel. From the windows, you can see very close the mammoth granite walls that made Yosemite the mecca of rock climbing.
We had breakfast at the Ahwahnee at their buffet and were pleasantly surprised. This is served in the lounge, with the historical artwork and original design that makes it the most breathtaking lodging option in Yosemite.
If you find a room available at a reasonable price, don’t think about it. It’s one of the best hotels to stay in Yosemite. Remember to book well in advance, so the prices don’t shoot up abruptly.
Yosemite Valley Lodge, the best place to stay in Yosemite
Yosemite Valley Lodge is a somewhat cheaper hotel, but it’s as demanded as the previous one. It’s also in a privileged location, being one of the few hotels within the Yosemite Valley.
The rooms have been renovated not long ago, so they have more exceptional comforts than the previous option, although it lacks the luxury style and history of The Ahwahnee.
Even so, it’s the best option to sleep in Yosemite for an average budget, although you must also book well in advance.
Curry Village, another option to sleep in Yosemite
Curry Village is the most popular option for those who dream of camping in Yosemite but don’t have the necessary gear. In this “Glamping” accommodation, you’ll find wonderful heated tent cabins with all the comforts you could imagine.
Since it’s the cheapest hotel in Yosemite, it’s usually sold out right away, so if you find a free room, don’t hesitate to book it. For me, it’s one of the best places to sleep in Yosemite.
Another perfect place to stay in Yosemite is in one of the private apartments in Yosemite West, a few minutes from the valley. The prices of these villas and apartments in Yosemite are usually high, but if you’re traveling in a group, it can be an exciting option.
Some of the best are:
- Yosemite Magic Studio “B”
- Yosemite Small Loft Condominiums – 1BR/1BA
- Yosemite Large Loft Condominiums – 1BR/1BA
Same as the previous option, you can rent some cottages in Wawona to stay within Yosemite National Park. The prices are not cheap, but if you’re traveling for a short time and everything is booked up, it’s an excellent option to stay as close to Yosemite Valley and the main attractions as possible. Wawona is also one step away from Mariposa Grove.
These are the best accommodations to stay in Yosemite (Wawona):
Where to sleep near Yosemite National Park
There are several reasons why you can decide to stay on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park. The most common is because you have left the hotel reservation for the last minute. But also, it’s a good reason if you want to sleep in Yosemite on a budget.
In either case, don’t worry! There are excellent accommodation options near Yosemite. You just have to know near which entrance you want to stay.
If you’ve already checked our Yosemite travel guide, you’ll know that there are four entrances to the park, three from the west (Big Oak Flat Entrance, Arch Rock Entrance, and South Entrance) and one entrance from the east (Tioga Pass Entrance).
Hotels near Arch Rock Entrance
The Arch Rock entrance is the closest to Yosemite Valley, so it’s usually one of the popular areas to find a hotel in Yosemite. Staying near this entrance is the best option if you want to be just 5 minutes away from famous viewpoints like the Valley View. The closest towns are El Portal (20 minutes away) and somewhat further away Mariposa (1 hour). In these two locations you can find good hotels near Yosemite like the following:
- Yosemite View Lodge
- Cedar Lodge
- Miners Inn
- Best Western Plus Yosemite Way Station
- Yosemite Inn
- The Monarch
- Quality Inn Yosemite Valley Gateway
HOTELS NEAR BIG OAK FLAT ENTRANCE
The fastest way to get from San Francisco to Yosemite Valley is by the Big Oak entrance, so as you can imagine, this is one of the busiest ones. Even so, there are many lodging options, and it’s an excellent choice if you are looking for cheap hotels near Yosemite.
These are the ones I recommend:
If by the time you’re booking, you can’t find any lodging available for your dates, I recommend you look for accommodation in the surroundings of Groveland, which is another right place to sleep near Yosemite.
HOTELS NEAR YOSEMITE SOUTH ENTRANCE
In case you visit Yosemite from Los Angeles or Las Vegas (in winter), you’ll enter through the South Entrance. This entrance is further from the valley, but it’s best if you want to visit Mariposa Grove.
- Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
- Narrow Gauge Inn
- White Chief Mountain Lodge
- Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn
- Yosemite Sierra Inn
- Cedar Mountain Lodge
- Sierra Sky Ranch
- Mountain Trail Lodge and Vacation Rentals
- Hounds Tooth Inn
HOTELS NEAR TIOGA PASS ENTRANCE
The Tioga Road is only open during the summer months, shortening the way from Death Valley to Yosemite Valley.
We had the opportunity of going through it at the end of August, and it was one of those places that surprised me most during our 10-day West Coast trip. In summer, it’s a magical place away from the masses of tourists in the valley. Wildlife also finds a quiet place here, so if you want to increase your chances of seeing wildlife like bears in Yosemite, it’s probably your best option.
- Lake View Lodge
- Yosemite Gateway Motel
- Gull Lake Lodge
- Lake Front Cabins
- Heidelberg Inn
- Motel 6 Mammoth Lakes
- Best Western Plus High Sierra Hotel
Where to camp in Yosemite
We’ve already talked about the best places to stay in Yosemite, mainly hotels and traditional lodging options, so now it’s time to speak about campsites.
We camped in most of the National Parks in the United States, and Yosemite was the place where we had the most significant interest. If you’ve ever dreamed of camping in the American West, under a starry sky, there is no better place than here.
Below you’ll find everything you need to know to camp in Yosemite.
Campsites in Yosemite National Park
There are 13 campsites in Yosemite, and only four of them are in the valley (Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines, and Camp 4).
Not all of them open throughout the year, so I recommend checking here their opening time, price, and if they require a reservation or are delivered on a first-in first-served basis.
We stayed at Camp 4, which only costs $6 and is the only one that doesn’t require a previous reservation. (update: it seems that now in the summer months reservation is needed).
How to get a spot in Yosemite Camp 4
If you plan to get a spot in the famous Yosemite Camp 4, the first thing to do is to check if the camp has been filled out the night before and at what time it happened. If it was filled early in the morning and you want to sleep for free in the center of Yosemite Valley, you can do a bivouac (sleeping outdoors) at the door of the Ranger’s hut that will assign the sites the next morning.
Don’t worry about bears and other animals; if the camp has been filled the previous days, there will be more campers who will spend the night outdoors to get a spot the next day. In our case, there were more than 30 people who slept in the queue (perhaps, for this reason, it’s now mandatory to book in the summer).
Sleeping at Yosemite’s Camp 4 is cheap ($6 per person), and it’s in one of the best places in Yosemite Valley. But apart from that, camping in Camp 4 is a must if you want to experience the essence of the park and get to know the historic camp where hippie climbers lived at the feet of El Capitan.
Wilderness Permit and High Sierra Camps in Yosemite
Another option, if you want to take multi-day hikes, is to camp in the middle of nature. For this, you need to request a Wilderness Permit, which is associated with the route that you’re planning. For example, if you want to do a two-day hike to climb the Half Dome, in addition to the cable permit, you must apply for a special wilderness permit for that area. Here you can find all the information and process to book it.
Another type of accommodation in Yosemite is the High Sierra Camps, which are five pre-assembled camps as remote as if you were using a Wilderness Permit. This type of campground can only be reached on foot, and there is no need to carry a tent (although the sleeping bag is highly recommended). Also, they offer half board or full board under an extra cost, and you can even hire a guided tour with a Ranger. You can check more information here.