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5 TOP Areas Where to Stay in Yosemite (Hotels+Cabins)

Majestic view of Yosemite Valley with El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall amidst a lush forest under a cloudy sky.
Majestic view of Yosemite Valley with El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall amidst a lush forest under a cloudy sky.

Deciding where to stay in Yosemite National Park is no easy thing but luckily you’re in the best place to find that out!

When I planned my trip to Yosemite, I found it SUPER confusing to understand what would be the best area to stay – there are just too many variables and no clear maps to visually explain the entrances and different lodging options. Well guess what, I tried to solve this problem in my post now!

Read this post and you’ll find all about the park’s 5 entrances, the best accommodations inside the park and the top towns near Yosemite – all of that accompanied by a couple of maps to help you visualize the place. 

I’ve compared so many accommodation options and handpicked only the most incredible ones inside and outside of the park for all budgets. You’ll find everything from hotels, lodges, cabins and campsites. 

In short, the best place to stay for you is Yosemite Valley! This area inside the park is close to many attractions and has different types of accommodations from hotels to camping sites and others. But if you want to stay here it’s crucial to book super early to get a cheaper price. 

But definitely check out all the towns and accommodation options as I carefully compared all the possible options so that you can have all the information needed.

Finding accommodations inside or near Yosemite is no easy thing! I highly recommend booking as early in advance as you can – everything here sells out fast! 

If you are in a hurry

Here’s a short list of the best accommodations in and around Yosemite:

Area overview

An adult and child, seen from behind, walk hand in hand on a dirt path through a meadow with tall golden grasses in Yosemite Valley, flanked by towering granite cliffs under a clear skyAn adult and child, seen from behind, walk hand in hand on a dirt path through a meadow with tall golden grasses in Yosemite Valley, flanked by towering granite cliffs under a clear sky

Before we start talking about accommodation in the park, I wanted to address a couple of important points, this will help you understand and decide much better on the area that is right for you. 

Inside or outside?

Staying inside 

Pros: Yosemite Park lets you wake up right in the heart of nature, making it super easy to hit the trails early and catch those breathtaking sunrise views. You will also not need to reserve the park entrance ticket which can be quite tricky to get (more on that later).

Cons: Affordable lodges inside the park are very hard to book and you need to either do it about a year in advance or pray someone cancels for your dates. Luxury hotels inside the park like Ahwahnee tend to be available closer to the dates, but they are much more expensive. 

Staying outside 

Pros: it can definitely be kinder to your wallet and gives you the flexibility to explore the local towns and their hidden gems, from cozy diners to quirky shops.

Cons: unless you are staying very close to the entrance, you may end up spending a lot of time driving to the park every day (there are lines to enter the park too in high season during rush hours). 

5 park’s entrances

A colorful map highlighting entrances in Yosemite National Park, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigationA colorful map highlighting entrances in Yosemite National Park, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation

I’ve listed the entrances starting from the one on the North side of the park and then going counterclockwise:

1. Hetch Hetchy Entrance

Wooden gateway with signs reading "Gateway to Hetch Hetchy" and "San Francisco Camp Mather" amid a forest of tall pine trees.Wooden gateway with signs reading "Gateway to Hetch Hetchy" and "San Francisco Camp Mather" amid a forest of tall pine trees.

This entrance is set in the Northwest part of the Park and unlike the other entrances in Yosemite, this one is only open during daylight hours, from sunrise to sunset. 

NOTE: From November through March, this entrance and road can be closed due to the bad weather conditions. So make you double check their official website where they have alerts for these types of situations. 

Hetch Hetchy Entrance is set near Mather, a small community that has a store (in case you want to quickly buy something before heading to the park) and a campsite. Another close city to stay overnight in is Groveland (#4 in my list) or Buck Meadows (~18 miles). 

If you want to stay near this entrance, there are 2 great accommodations that you can choose from: Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite which is only a 5 min drive away from the entrance, and Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite which is a 20 min drive away. 

2. Big Oak Flat Entrance

The winding road to Big Oak Flat Entrance in Yosemite National Park with a clear blue sky overhead. A stone tunnel carved through a hill awaits travelers, surrounded by steep, forested slopes and rugged mountain scenery.The winding road to Big Oak Flat Entrance in Yosemite National Park with a clear blue sky overhead. A stone tunnel carved through a hill awaits travelers, surrounded by steep, forested slopes and rugged mountain scenery.

This is the entrance you’ll use if you’re staying in Groveland (Area#4 in my list), a town set a 30-minute drive away to the west. 

There aren’t many facilities near the entrance but you’ll find an information station and also the Hodgdon Meadow Campground. Yosemite Valley is about 1h away from here. 

3. Arch Rock Entrance 

A natural rock arch over a road shaded by trees inside Yosemite National Park, creating a picturesque tunnel.A natural rock arch over a road shaded by trees inside Yosemite National Park, creating a picturesque tunnel.

This is a pretty popular entrance if you’re coming from the Bay area. It is also super close to lots of major attractions inside Yosemite National Park such as Tunnel View, the Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls. 

Note: Arch Rock Entrance is also a great option for those of you who want to visit Yosemite during winter time. 

Some of the best towns around this entrance are Mariposa (Area#2 in my list) – it is about a 45-minute drive away. 

4. South Entrance 

Entrance to a forested campground with cabins, marked by a stop sign and clear blue skies above.Entrance to a forested campground with cabins, marked by a stop sign and clear blue skies above.

This will be a great place to enter the park if you are coming from Los Angeles and/or if you are staying in Oakhurst (Area#3 in my list) – located about 16 miles/30 min away. Other good places to stay around are Fish Camp (only 3 miles away from the center) – it has lots of lodges and camping options. 

PRO TIP: This entrance is very popular, I highly recommend getting there before 10am so that you can avoid the huge lines here! 

Please note that once you enter the park, there are not so many things to do in this part of Yosemite, apart from the gorgeous Mariposa Grove where you can see the giant Sequoia trees, so you will be looking for another 1h drive inside the park to reach Yosemite Valley which is where most attractions are. 

5. Tioga Pass Entrance

A vehicle stopping at Tioga Pass entrance booth in Yosemite under an overcast sky with snow-capped mountains in the distance.A vehicle stopping at Tioga Pass entrance booth in Yosemite under an overcast sky with snow-capped mountains in the distance.

If you’re coming from the East side like Austin, Tioga Pass is the entrance you will probably use. Bear in mind that in the winter it is closed due to heavy snowfall so double check their website if you’re coming during that time. 

The closest town to this entrance is Lee Vining which is 20 min away by car, followed by Mono City which is 30 min away by car and Mammoth Lakes which is 1h away by car. 

Note: Highway 120 from Lee Vining to the park entrance is pretty steep and narrow as it goes up in the mountains so take that into consideration if you’re picking this route. 

Yosemite Valley

Visitors at an overlook in Yosemite with a "NO PARKING" sign on the pavement, enjoying the view of the valley and granite cliffs.Visitors at an overlook in Yosemite with a "NO PARKING" sign on the pavement, enjoying the view of the valley and granite cliffs.

The park is big and has an endless amount of things to discover, but if you are going for the first time, you will probably spend most of the time around Yosemite Valley. 

This is an area inside the park and it includes attractions such as Tunnel View, the Bridalveil Trailhead, Yosemite Falls View and others. Plus some of the main hotels, lodges and camping sites like the Ahwahnee, Curry Village and many more.

Here is a map about where to stay in and near Yosemite National Park with all areas, so you can easily visualize them:

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in Yosemite, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigationA colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in Yosemite, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation

1. Where to stay inside Yosemite National Park

Entrance sign of Yosemite National Park on a scenic road flanked by forested slopes and a clear blue sky.
Entrance sign of Yosemite National Park on a scenic road flanked by forested slopes and a clear blue sky.

If you decide on staying inside, get ready for the Hunger Games, national park style! The more affordable accommodation sells out as fast as 1 year in advance (!) which is pretty much when they release the booking possibility to the public. You can read more about all accommodations inside the park on the official website here

NOTE: The most popular time to visit is from April and going all the way through the summer months and October – this is when it is going to be the hardest to find a spot. 

1.1 Hotels

A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a cozy bedroom with warm lighting and nature-inspired art and a majestic stone lodge nestled against a backdrop of towering cliffs and autumn foliage.A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a cozy bedroom with warm lighting and nature-inspired art and a majestic stone lodge nestled against a backdrop of towering cliffs and autumn foliage.
  • Ahwahnee ($$$) – this hotel set in the Yosemite Valley near Merced River is an attraction on its own, it’s absolutely stunning! With guests from people like Barack Obama, Steve Jobs (who actually had his wedding here!) and Walt Disney, the hotel managed by Yosemite Hospitality offers breathtaking views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point and it has an outdoor pool, a spa center and it also offers free parking. 
  • Yosemite Valley Lodge ($$$) – a pretty cool hotel that boasts incredible views and is also located in the Yosemite Valley near Merced River. The accommodation offers 2 on-site restaurants, terraces where you can relax and bikes to rent out. 
  • Wawona Hotel ($$$) – located in Wawona (an area inside Yosemite National Park) near Mariposa Grove, the one with Giant Sequoias, this Victorian accommodation was established in the 1800s and is one of the oldest mountain resorts in California! It has cozy rooms (some also come with a balcony), a lobby with a fireplace where you can relax after a day out and a restaurant with an outdoor dining area. This hotel used to be called Big Trees Lodge. 

1.2 Lodges

A vibrant autumnal scene with yellow leaves on trees lining a pathway next to an outdoor seating area of a café, depicting a serene park setting.A vibrant autumnal scene with yellow leaves on trees lining a pathway next to an outdoor seating area of a café, depicting a serene park setting.

Below you’ll find the 3 best lodges  that I found inside Yosemite! Still, if these are sold out (and trust me that’s very likely to happen) you can also check this website which has a bunch of lodges for you:

  • White Wolf Lodge ($$) – get ready for a relaxing (and maybe romantic) getaway while staying in one of the best lodging options that’s set 30 miles away from the Yosemite Valley! The lodge comes with tent cabins or traditional cabins and free parking. 
  • Tuolumne Meadows Lodge ($$) – set 6.6 miles (10 km) away from Tioga Pass Entrance, this lodge is available from mid-June to mid-September and it offers different canvas-tent cabins that have a wood-burning stove. They also have a dining area with free Wi-Fi. 
  • Glacier Point Ski Hut ($$) – if you want to stay in the heart of the Yosemite Valley, then this place is for you! Overlooking the Valley, Half Dome, and the Yosemite High Country and opened from December through March this accommodation offers a large bunk bed area with room for up to 20 people and free Wi-Fi. 

1.3 Cabins

White canvas tents nestled among golden-leaved trees in Yosemite National Park, offering a rustic camping experience in a forest settingWhite canvas tents nestled among golden-leaved trees in Yosemite National Park, offering a rustic camping experience in a forest setting

Same for this section! I only added the main and most amazing cabins, but if these are sold out or not really what you were looking for you can check this website, where there are many other cabins inside Yosemite: 

  • Curry Village ($$) – located in the beautiful Yosemite Valley, this accommodation offers heated canvas tents but also cabins with a private bathroom. Here you can rent out bikes to explore the National Park and you’ll also have access to a restaurant. 
  • Creekside Cabin ($$) – with room for up to 6 guests this amazing cabin set at the base of the Chilnualna Falls comes with wooden furnishings and all the facilities you need! Relax by the fireplace after a day out, watch some TV and enjoy a BBQ with your friends!
  • Grant’s Camp ($$) – an amazing place that has room for up to 10 guests and a large patio where you can enjoy your morning coffee! The accommodation also has an indoor fireplace and a kitchen.

1.4 Camps

Campground in Yosemite with tents pitched among tall pine trees offering a serene outdoor experience.
Campground in Yosemite with tents pitched among tall pine trees offering a serene outdoor experience.

Below I’ve added the main campground in the park, however there are a couple more, which you can check and book from this website:

  • High Sierra Camps Merced Lake ($) – located on the western side of the park, these campgrounds offer different tents and cooking facilities. 
  • Housekeeping Camp ($) – set by the Merced river in the middle of Yosemite Valley, this camping site offers 266 concrete structures with canvas roofs (fancy tents) with electricity and a shared bathroom. 
  • Upper Pines Campground ($) – this is the largest camping site in Yosemite Valley and it offers toilets, food storage locker and a picnic table. You can use the shower in the nearby Curry Village for a fee.
  • Wawona Campground ($) – set along the South Fork Merced River, this camping site offers 47 tents, toilets and bear locks. 
  • Curry Village Camp ($) – boasting 403 canvas tent cabins (and many other cabins and motel rooms) this little village has a great location just below Half Dome and Glacier Point and amazing facilities like a pool, on-site dining and bike rentals!

1.5 Yosemite West

Giant sequoia trees flanking a dirt road with a wooden fence, showcasing the massive scale and natural beauty of Mariposa GroveGiant sequoia trees flanking a dirt road with a wooden fence, showcasing the massive scale and natural beauty of Mariposa Grove

Еechnically Yosemite West is not inside of the National Park, 20-40 minutes from three of the park’s most iconic destinations like Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. 

I am keeping it here because if you book your accommodation here, you won’t have to reserve your park entrance, which is a major perk, but you will still need to pay US$35 for the car (as you will cross the entrance every day). 

There are quite a lot of lodges in Yosemite West, below are some of the best options, but you can check all of them here (they also get booked out fast in the season!). 

A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a spacious living room with vaulted ceilings and large windows offering a forest view and a charming cabin surrounded by tall pines providing a secluded retreat.A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a spacious living room with vaulted ceilings and large windows offering a forest view and a charming cabin surrounded by tall pines providing a secluded retreat.
  • Glacier Peak Lodge ($$$) – perfect for a large group of friends or families, this accommodation offers so much space, a lounge area with a TV and fireplace and a kitchen. The accommodation is located a 30 min drive away from Yosemite Valley. 
  • Inside Yosemite Mountain Beauty ($$$) – this large house is located a 40 min drive away from Yosemite’s El Portal Entrance and it has 4 rooms, a fully-equipped kitchen and a fireplace. 
  • Yosemite View ($$$)  – this accommodation has a great location just a 40 min drive away from El Portal entrance and it boasts 3 incredible rooms, large windows that let in so much light and a kitchen. 
  • YoBee Homey Studios ($$) – boasting apartments and spacious rooms, this accommodation comes with free parking, a snack bar and ski equipment rental services. Attractions in the National Park, such as Tunnel View, are around a 20 min drive away.

2. Mariposa – where to stay for the Hetch Hetchy Entrance

A closer view of a towering sequoia with a large hollow base, surrounded by a wooden fence in the sunlit Mariposa Grove, highlighting the grandeur of these ancient trees.A closer view of a towering sequoia with a large hollow base, surrounded by a wooden fence in the sunlit Mariposa Grove, highlighting the grandeur of these ancient trees.

Mariposa is located around 50 min away from the Arch Rock Entrance and 1h away from Yosemite Valley, and it’s a great base for those of you who are coming from San Francisco and want to stay in a town near Yosemite.  

It’s a place with a lot of small businesses (not many huge chain hotels and restaurants) and local history charm! By the way, if you are looking for more options of hotels around, Mariposa is also close to towns like El Portal (where you can find some accommodations closer to the park like Yosemite Cedar Lodge), Midpines Park and Merced.

The downtown area is filled with historic houses from the 1800s and 1900s! If you want to dive more into Mariposa’s history, you can head to the Mariposa Museum & History Center. There are also lots of restaurants, small local businesses and shops where you can stop on your way to Yosemite.

If you need more information about the park you can head to the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau, where the staff can help out!

PRO TIP: If you’re not coming by car then you can use the YARTS buses (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) to get to the park for free! Yep, just check out the routes on their official website!

A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a rustic bedroom with wooden furnishings and a mountain motif and a welcoming hotel exterior at twilight with an inviting outdoor pool area.A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a rustic bedroom with wooden furnishings and a mountain motif and a welcoming hotel exterior at twilight with an inviting outdoor pool area.

Luxury (US$200 and up)

  • Best Western Plus Yosemite – start your mornings with a yummy breakfast at this hotel that offers an outdoor swimming pool, an outdoor dining area and a hot tub. 
  • The Yosemite Inn – a cute yet simple place that has everything you need, including family rooms and free parking. 

Mid-range (from US$135 to US$200)

  • Mariposa Lodge – here’s something a bit more affordable that has a children’s play area, an outdoor swimming pool with sun loungers and is pet-friendly. 
  • The Monarch Inn – a great place that comes with spacious rooms, a seasonal outdoor pool and a coffee shop.

Budget (up to US$135) 

  • River Rock Inn – some simple rooms that are well-equipped! This is a pet-friendly hotel and they offer free parking.

3. Oakhurst – best place to stay for South Entrance

Historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad with an old steam engine and a worker on top under the forest canopy.
Historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad with an old steam engine and a worker on top under the forest canopy.

If you’re coming from Los Angeles and looking for a place to stay outside Yosemite, then Oakhurst may be the town for you!

Located just a 30 min drive away from Yosemite’s South Entrance or 1h and 20 min all the way to Yosemite Valley, Oakhurst has a few chain hotels, restaurants, lots of shops and some fun attractions like the Golden Chain Theatre!

You’ll definitely find a wider range of accommodations and some will probably be even more affordable than those inside Yosemite National Park.

Plus, if you need some help picking activities and learning more about the road conditions and all that, you can head to Yosemite Madera County Visitor Center (map) where they can help you out with all that stuff and you can also collect some maps and brochures from there.

Oakhurst is also located near the Ahwahnee community (you probably recognize the name from the famous hotel I mentioned earlier with the same name, that’s set inside the park. Ahwahnee is a pretty area and definitely worth a visit if you have the time and want to play some golf (they have a course there).

If Oakhurst is a bit too far from you, you can check out some of the accommodations in Fish Camp (which is a 6 min drive from the South Entrance of Yosemite) like Tenaya at Yosemite and Explorer Cabins.

Now let’s check out the hotels and vacation rentals here:

A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a comfortable lounge with a fireplace and a variety of seating options for relaxation and an elegant bedroom with tasteful decor and a cushioned headboard.A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a comfortable lounge with a fireplace and a variety of seating options for relaxation and an elegant bedroom with tasteful decor and a cushioned headboard.

Luxury (US$300 and up)

  • Hounds Tooth Inn – enjoy your holiday in this great hotel near Yosemite that has super cozy rooms with mountain views (some even come with a hot tub and a terrace). Each morning you can enjoy a yummy breakfast and then head out to explore the area!
  • Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn – go for a relaxing swim in the pool of this hotel, after a day in the park! The accommodation is pretty amazing and it boasts an on-site restaurant, a hot tub and rooms decorated with original artwork.  

Mid-range (from US$135 to US$300) 

  • Queen’s Inn By The River – here’s something a bit more affordable near Yosemite that has rooms with mountain views and a patio. The accommodation also offers free parking and a large outdoor terrace. 
  • Hampton Inn Oakhurst-Yosemite – modern and equipped with a fab indoor pool! This accommodation comes with family rooms and a dining area. 

Budget (up to US$135) 

  • Studio Apartment – perfect for 4 guests, this place offers a private backyard, a kitchen and mountain views. 

4. Groveland – where to stay for the Big Oak Flat Entrance

The iconic Iron Door Saloon, established in 1852, with a rustic façade and murals depicting western scenes.
The iconic Iron Door Saloon, established in 1852, with a rustic façade and murals depicting western scenes.

With a great location just 40 min away from Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat Entrance and 1h away from Yosemite Valley, this area is pretty cool and just like Mariposa, it has a rich history! 

It has a really authentic Western vibe and plenty of fun things to do when you’re not out exploring Yosemite!

You’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops and bars where you can listen to some live music! There’s definitely never a dull moment here.

They even have a museum called the Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum where you can learn more about the town’s history! 

Please note that Groveland is a bit pricier than the rest of the towns but as you can see it’s kind of pretty close to one of the Park’s entrances.

A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a grand living room with a stone fireplace and wood-beamed ceilings in a lodge setting and a tranquil hotel pool with a hot tub surrounded by snow-capped mountains.A collage of two hotel photos in Yosemite: a grand living room with a stone fireplace and wood-beamed ceilings in a lodge setting and a tranquil hotel pool with a hot tub surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Luxury (US$200 and up)

  • Berkshire Inn – boasting mountain views and some super cozy rooms with wooden furnishings, this accommodation has everything you need for your stay, including an outdoor dining area and free parking.  
  • Hotel Charlotte – set in downtown Groveland, this historic old-west boutique hotel has an on-site restaurant and a bar. 

Mid-range (from US$150 to US$200)

  • All Season’s Groveland Inn – enjoy a yummy (complimentary) breakfast at this hotel that offers family rooms and free Wi-Fi.
  • Yosemite Westgate Lodge – chill by the outdoor pool of this hotel that has rooms with mountain views, a restaurant and a bar.  

Budget (up to US$150) 

  • The Groveland Hotel – one of the best cheap hotels near Yosemite! The rooms are super cozy and the accommodation comes with a restaurant and a bar. 
  • The Chick Inn – this eco-friendly glamping comes with a shared backyard, a kitchen and free Wi-Fi.  

5. Mammoth Lakes – where to stay for the Tioga Pass Entrance

A serene view of Mammoth Lakes with a row of yellow boats docked on a crystal-clear mountain lake, with majestic pine-covered peaks in the background.A serene view of Mammoth Lakes with a row of yellow boats docked on a crystal-clear mountain lake, with majestic pine-covered peaks in the background.

Looking for a place to stay near the Tioga Pass Entrance? Then check out the town of Mammoth Lakes, which is located around a 50 min drive away from the park entrance. 

NOTE: As I mentioned earlier, this entrance is closed during winter time because of heavy snowfall.

Mammoth Lakes is set near the Sierra Mountains and it offers so many things to do, from skiing (I know you’ll visit in the summer time but it’s good to know for future trips), to hiking and many other things! 

If you want to base yourself in this town, definitely consider a few extra days to spend here before you hit Yosemite, as there are lots of things to explore like the Twin Falls Overlook (map)!

Mammoth Lakes has lots of restaurants, shops and hotels that we’ll get into, in a second!

A collage of four hotel photos in Yosemite: a rustic bedroom with a charming, quilted bedspread and wooden accents, a luxurious lodge with an inviting fireplace and comfy seating, a stately hotel exterior set against a forest backdrop, and a cozy hot tub offering relaxation after a day of exploring Yosemite National Park.


A collage of four hotel photos in Yosemite: a rustic bedroom with a charming, quilted bedspread and wooden accents, a luxurious lodge with an inviting fireplace and comfy seating, a stately hotel exterior set against a forest backdrop, and a cozy hot tub offering relaxation after a day of exploring Yosemite National Park.

Luxury (US$200 and up)

  • The Westin Monache Resort – enjoy your stay at this luxurious hotel that offers rooms with a fireplace, an on-site restaurant and a hot tub. 
  • Outbound Mammoth – book some time at the spa center of this hotel that has an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant. 

Mid-range (from US$150 to US$200)

  • Alpenhof Lodge – sleep like a baby in the super cozy rooms of this hotel that has an outdoor pool and a sauna. 
  • Austria Hof Lodge – get a room with a spa bath and relax while staying in this hotel that offers free parking and a sun terrace. 

Budget (up to US$150) 

  • Sunshine Village – here’s something a bit more affordable but just as nice that has a lounge area with a fireplace and a hot tub.
  • Cinnamon Bear Inn – a great accommodation tucked away between the trees that comes with family rooms, an outdoor dining area and an outdoor spa tub.

Practical Information about Yosemite National Park

Before we wrap up this post I wanted to offer you a short but very informative list of things to know about Yosemite National Park!

1. Booking your tickets

RV with a mural depicting desert and cactus driving on a mountain road in a pine forest under a clear blue sky.RV with a mural depicting desert and cactus driving on a mountain road in a pine forest under a clear blue sky.

If you are visiting the park from April to October, you will need to book your tickets to enter the park (even if you own a Park Pass). Statistically, that’s 75% of visitors, so if that is you, read on!. 

NOTE: If you have booked accommodation inside the park or in West Yosemite, you do NOT need to book the entrance, even if you visit anywhere between April and October. 

The possibility to book is usually released well in advance of the visit dates. For example, in 2024, the reservations opened on January 5, 2024, (this is the official website to do it). I highly recommend setting yourself a reminder to do it in advance. 

But what to do if you’ve missed it and now it is sold out for the dates you want to visit? Worry not, there are ways around it:

  • Try buying your ticket 1 week before your visit – they release 1000 additional tickets 7 days (set yourself a reminder, it is released at 8am Pacific time). PRO TIP:  make a Recreation.gov account ahead of time, be logged in to avoid spending the time on this. And be sure to check this video, it guides you through the process on how to book the ticket so you waste no time trying to figure out the system.
    Ex: say you are going on the 15th of June – try your luck at 8 am pacific time on the 8th of June
  • If you enter the park before 6a.m. or after 4p.m. you won’t need a reservation!
  • Take a guided tour – if you’ve joined one, you won’t need a reservation
  • If you enter the park via the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) buses, bicycle, on foot, or on horseback, you do not need a day-use reservation to enter the park, but park entrance fees still apply
  • Check for cancellations – check again from time to time, there may be cancelations 

2. Internet 

Woman in a red beanie and orange jacket sitting on a rock using her smartphone with a panoramic view of Yosemite's cliffs in the background.Woman in a red beanie and orange jacket sitting on a rock using her smartphone with a panoramic view of Yosemite's cliffs in the background.

Your internet will be very unstable – you’re surrounded by huge rocks and granite at the end of the day!

I recommend downloading the Google Map of the area offline and getting the AllTrails app but the paid version which allows you to use the app offline, without any internet, which is super useful! 

Safety tip – just in case, make sure you set a meeting point with your friends/family as the park is big and you can actually get lost there.  

3. If everything is booked out

Colorful sleeping bags on the roof of a vehicle with a view of a pine forest and granite cliffs at a Yosemite campsite.Colorful sleeping bags on the roof of a vehicle with a view of a pine forest and granite cliffs at a Yosemite campsite.

If you absolutely can’t find a hotel, try breaking down your dates. Say, if you are visiting for 3 nights, check the availability of your preferred place for just 1 or 2 nights and be ready to move for the next night. 

I know it is not ideal, but hey, it is still better than nothing!

Another cool tip I heard from someone is booking a hotel/lodge outside with free cancellation and continue monitoring your preferred lodging for cancellations. If this happens, grab it when you see it and you can always cancel the other one!

4. Transportation

Yosemite shuttle bus at a stop in Yosemite Village with passengers waiting, surrounded by towering pine trees.Yosemite shuttle bus at a stop in Yosemite Village with passengers waiting, surrounded by towering pine trees.

I highly recommend renting bikes to explore the park rather than using your car. That way you won’t have to fight for a parking place (especially when it’s super busy) every time you stop at a viewpoint etc.. 

There are lots of bike paths as many visitors pick this option and it’s not incredibly difficult in terms of effort! You can rent your bike in Yosemite Village (they use a first come first served system) and most big camps provide bicycles for extra payment too.

As I mentioned there’s also a free shuttle bus service, called Yarts Buses that will take you inside the park, so you can just leave your car in the parking lot before entering the park.   

If you do take your car you’ll have to pay US$35 per day (even if you just park it once you enter the park). BUT you won’t have to pay anything at all if you own a National Park Pass (US$90 per year). It is a pretty good deal if you visit 3 or more national parks per year. 

I recommend filling up your car with gas before entering the park, because if you do it inside you’ll pay more. There are 3 gas stations in the park at Wawona (map) and Crane Flat (map) and they also have EV charging spots.  

Also, if you can, start your day here super early and maybe avoid going on the weekend if possible. Especially in the summer months when there are so many traffic delays because of the crowds.

5. Best time to visit 

Tourists at an overlook admiring the iconic view of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, with lush greenery and a clear blue sky.Tourists at an overlook admiring the iconic view of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, with lush greenery and a clear blue sky.

Weather-wise, the best time to visit is from May to October (basically the high season when 75% of visitors go there). 

May is a pretty great month as the waterfalls are very powerful after the snow has melted, and the park isn’t so crowded yet (still, book your hotels in advance, as they sell out early even then).

Early November is also pretty great if you prefer the colder weather. 

PRO TIP: You can also join a night sky tour if you really don’t like crowds – many people highly recommend it! 

6. Other details

Dog on a leash sitting on a wooden bridge covered with fallen leaves in Yosemite, attentively looking off to the side.Dog on a leash sitting on a wooden bridge covered with fallen leaves in Yosemite, attentively looking off to the side.

You can bring your pets with you, however there are certain restrictions so double check the website before booking your trip. 

As for the food, you’ll find lots of picnic tables where you can enjoy your pre-made meals from home. You’ll also find food in the visitor centers and of course if you’re staying inside one of the cities near Yosemite you’ll find plenty of restaurants (average price is about US$35 per dish). 

FAQs about where to stay in Yosemite National Park

Information board for Yosemite Naturalist Activities with a visitor in the distance admiring the expansive view.
Information board for Yosemite Naturalist Activities with a visitor in the distance admiring the expansive view.

🏕️ Where should I stay when visiting Yosemite?

You can stay inside the park, in Yosemite Valley at places like Ahwahnee or outside the park in the closest town of Oakhurst at Hounds Tooth Inn

🌲 What is the best month to visit Yosemite National Park?

Even though Yosemite offers different beauties in all seasons, the best time to visit is in spring between March and May. If you want to avoid the tourist crowd, December to March could be a nice time.

🏡 What town is closest to Yosemite National Park?

Groveland and Oakhurst are the closest towns to Yosemite National Park.

🤔 How many days should I stay in Yosemite National Park?

I’d recommend spending 3 to 4 days in Yosemite, that way you can explore more of it and visit all its major attractions!

🚗 How do I get to Yosemite?

Driving is the best option to get to and around Yosemite. If you don’t have a vehicle, renting a car is the next best option. Otherwise, public transport and shuttle services are available around the park.

🐻 Is Yosemite National Park dangerous?

Yosemite National Park is not dangerous but be aware of the wildlife. As long as you follow the warnings, you will be safe. 

🏞️ What is the best area to stay in Yosemite?

Yosemite Valley is one of the best places to stay in Yosemite, that’s where you’ll find most of the national park lodging and lots of attractions. 

⚖️ Is it better to stay inside or outside Yosemite?

I would recommend staying inside if you have the budget and manage to book a place early. If you want to stay outside, book a hotel in Oakhurst or Groveland (the nearest town).

Conclusion

Reflective view of Yosemite Falls from across a still meadow with vibrant green trees and a clear blue sky.
Reflective view of Yosemite Falls from across a still meadow with vibrant green trees and a clear blue sky.

Phew! That was a long one but I’m so happy I could untangle the riddle that the Yosemite travel guide is for many of its visitors! I hope it is a bit more clear now about the entrances and the variety of lodging options they have at the park. 

This guide on where to stay in Yosemite National Park has all the information you need on the best hotels, cabins and all types of accommodations inside the park, and in the nearby towns and cities. 

Deciding on a lodging option is not easy so here are my top 2 favorite options for inside the park and outside of it:

  • Ahwahnee – one of the best Yosemite National Park hotels that has a pool and a restaurant 
  • Hounds Tooth Inn – set in Oakhurst, the closest town to Yosemite, this hotel has a hot tub

Hope you like them! 

If you take away only one thing from this blog post – book your accommodation as soon as it is available (sometimes that means 1 year in advance) – everything, even the most luxurious options sell out super in advance!

I’ll leave you to your planning, but if you have any other questions just leave me a comment below and I’ll answer ASAP!

Happy exploring,

Yulia


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A blog graphic with text "Where to stay in Yosemite NP, USA" featuring a family rafting in a river with Yosemite Falls in the background.
A blog graphic with text "Where to stay in Yosemite NP, USA" featuring a family rafting in a river with Yosemite Falls in the background.

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A blog graphic with text "Where to stay in Yosemite, USA" showing a lone person walking on a boardwalk in a golden meadow with Yosemite Falls in the distance.
A blog graphic with text "Where to stay in Yosemite, USA" showing a lone person walking on a boardwalk in a golden meadow with Yosemite Falls in the distance.

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