​​Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park: A Complete Guide

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is a stunning natural wonder, and one of the most popular parks in the country. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park boasts majestic granite peaks and monoliths, thundering waterfalls, pristine alpine lakes, scenic meadows, giant sequoias, and one stunning vista point after another. It’s a massive park, at over 1,000 square miles. 

If you’re wondering where to stay in Yosemite, we’ve got you covered. We’ve listed out the best places to stay in Yosemite and the best places to stay near Yosemite. There is a wide range of accommodation options for every type of visitor both inside and outside the park. We’ve provided detailed information on each option, so you can choose the right place to suit your needs.

I’ve been visiting Yosemite for more than 20 years and have stayed in many different areas over the years, which means I have first-hand experience when it comes to giving advice on where to stay at Yosemite National Park. 

Hey you! Are you planning to visit Yosemite National Park? Make sure to read our guide to planning an amazing Yosemite itinerary, which has everything you need to know to plan your trip (with all the important details and logistics included, duh).

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel and vacation rental links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would absolutely never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

A Quick Yosemite Geography Overview

Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of east central California, around 180 miles east of San Francisco, 350 miles north of Los Angeles, and 150 miles south of Reno, Nevada.

At the heart of the park is the Yosemite Valley, home to many of the park’s most iconic attractions. At 7 miles long and just half a mile wide, Yosemite Valley is only one percent of the park, yet is loaded with attractions and amenities. If you visit just one area, make it the valley. Most people spend most of their time here.

There are five different entrances to the park.

Big Oak Flat (Groveland): Located at the western end of the park, it’s the most direct entrance from the Bay Area, along Hwy 120. Several historic and charming Mother Lode towns (that sprang up during the California Gold Rush) are nearby, including Groveland, Sonora, and Jamestown.

Arch Rock (El Portal): Located south of the Big Oak Flat Entrance, along Hwy 140, this is a less direct access point from the Bay Area but offers the shortest drive time from the entrance to Yosemite Valley. The lower elevation also means it’s the best option for year-round access. 

South Entrance (Fish Camp): The South Entrance along Hwy 41 offers the most direct access from Fresno and Los Angeles. It’s easy to visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. The town of Fish Camp is just south of the entrance, while Oakhurst is further away.

East Entrance (Tioga Pass / Tuolumne Meadows): The east entrance offers access from the Eastern Sierra through the gateway town of Lee Vining and is only open over the summer and early fall. Tioga Pass is the highest pass in California, at 9,945 feet, and is 62 miles from the valley. The scenic Tioga Road passes the high country region of the park, including Tuolumne Meadows, Tenaya Lake, and Olmstead Point.

Hetch Hetchy: Considered a twin of Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy was flooded in by the O’Shaughnessy Dam and today is dominated by a massive reservoir. Very few people visit this part of the park, so it’s a great place to escape the crowds while enjoying scenic hikes along the dam, or to pretty waterfalls. Use the Big Oak Flat Entrance to access Yosemite Valley.

Here’s a map that we put together, courtesy of the National Park Service (you can find more helpful maps here).

Base Map courtesy of the National Park Service

Want a bigger version of that map? You can right-click and hit “open image in new tab” to see a bigger version (or just click here).

Camping in Yosemite National Park

Camping is one of the best ways to experience Yosemite. There are 13 campgrounds offering nearly 15,000 campsites within the park. Five are open year-round, while the rest are open seasonally.

Reservable campsites can be booked five months in advance on the 15th of each month at 7:00 am PST, and often book out very quickly. With several campgrounds closed for 2022 and 2023 it’s even more imperative to book a site ASAP.

All campsites include a fire ring, picnic table, and food storage locker. Food (and all scented items) must be stored in the lockers, and not in your car. Showers are usually only available at Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite Village. Camp 4 also offers access to showers. 

Some campgrounds can accommodate RVs, though there are no hookups. Year-round dump stations can be found in the valley, and over the summer at Wawona and Tuolumne Meadows. Maximum RV size is 40 feet, though some campgrounds can only accommodate small RVs up to 24 feet.

Pets are usually allowed on a leash, with the exception of Camp 4, group sites, and horse sites.

Here’s a map of campgrounds in Yosemite National Park (find more park maps here).

Image courtesy of the National Park Service

More information on the different campgrounds in the park here, and how to make reservations here.

Where to Stay near Yosemite National Park: A Complete Guide to Finding the Perfect Place to Stay in Yosemite

There are seven main areas to stay in and near Yosemite, including near each park entrance. We’ll cover six of those areas in detail below, along with the pros and cons of staying in each area. 

The seventh area, which we don’t think is a great option for most people, especially if it’s your first time, is along Tioga Road.

It’s often easier to find campsites (though the main Tuolumne Meadows campground is closed for renovations through at least 2024). However, it’s quite a distance to Yosemite Valley – it’s a 90 minute and 55 mile drive from Tuolumne Meadows.

There are also limited non-camping lodging options, and access from Tioga Pass is only over the summer and early fall, which is why we’re not covering it in detail below.

Inside the Yosemite Valley: The Best Yosemite Experience

Yosemite Valley is the heart of the park, and home to many of its spectacular and iconic sights, including Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and more.

Most amenities, including the largest Visitor Center, lodging and dining options, campgrounds, shops, and more can be found here.

Pros and Cons of Staying in Yosemite Valley

Pros: You’ll be close to many of the park’s top attractions if you stay in Yosemite Valley. Staying in the valley will save you a lot of driving time, as it can be 15 miles to more than 60 miles from the valley to the other park entrances.

Cons: Yosemite Valley’s popularity means it’s heaving with people, especially over the summer. Parking can also be an issue. There’s also fierce competition for both lodging and campsites in the valley, so you’ll have to plan far in advance to grab a spot. 

Best Places to Stay in Yosemite Valley

If you want to stay in the valley, your options are fairly limited. Here are the hotels, lodges, and campgrounds to choose from.  

Here’s a map of the valley.

Image courtesy of the National Park Service

Want a bigger version of the map? You can right-click and hit “open image in new tab” to see a bigger version (or just click here).

The Ahwahnee Hotel

Centrally located, and with views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls, the Awhahnee Hotel is a National Historic Landmark is a fabulous place to stay, and well worth the splurge. The majestic stone lodge features soaring ceilings, grand lounges, massive fireplaces, and priceless artifacts and artworks. 

Rooms on the higher floors offer the best views, while cottages offer more privacy. Guests enjoy thoughtful amenities and service, and outdoor features like a swimming pool and tennis court. 

Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth a stop to take a peek at the Great Lounge, or grab a bite in the restaurant, a drink in the bar, or a souvenir from the gift shop.

Curry Village

Located at the eastern end of the valley, just below Half Dome and Glacier Point, Curry Village offers a more affordable option and is a favorite with families. 

Options include hundreds of heated and unheated canvas tent cabins with shared bathrooms, cozy wooden cabins with private or shared bathrooms, and motel-style rooms with private bathrooms. Amenities include a seasonal outdoor pool, skating rink, amphitheater, general store, outdoor shop, mountaineering school, and various dining options. 

It’s the largest lodging option in the valley, so crowds are a given. In the winter, Curry Village is only open on weekends.

Yosemite Valley Lodge

Located near the base of Yosemite Falls in the heart of Yosemite Valley, the location is the top draw of Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Spread out over several buildings, the rooms here are pretty basic, with a modern rustic wooden décor and balconies or small patios where you can enjoy views of the surrounding mountains. Family and bunkrooms offer extra beds and space.

There are several dining options, a bar, seasonal swimming pool, bike rental, gift shop, amphitheater, and post office. Several trails and the Merced River are located nearby.

Camping in Yosemite Valley

There are several different campgrounds inside the valley, and they are about as competitive as any campground in the country. Book early!

  • Upper Pines: With 238 sites for tents, RVs (up to 35 feet), and trailers (up to 24 feet), it’s the largest and most popular campground in the valley. Enjoy filtered valley views, a decent amount of shade, and easy access to valley facilities and trails. Sites are fairly open and close together so there won’t be much privacy, but its convenience and location right in the heart of the valley make up for it. Grab a site towards the back for more privacy. Flush toilets and drinking water available. Open year-round, only around 50 sites are available over the winter. Reservations are required and book up very quickly between May and September.
  • Lower Pines: Located mid-valley along the southern banks of the Merced River, this smaller and more intimate campground offers 60 sites for tents, RVs (up to 40 feet), and trailers (up to 35 feet). There are great views of Half Dome, but sites are pretty packed in together and it can get quite noisy here. Some sites are prone to flooding in the spring when the river is high. Flush toilets and drinking water are available, and it’s a short walk to Curry Village and its amenities. Seasonally open from April to late October, reservations are required and should be made early.
  • North Pines: Located at the far end of the valley, the seasonal North Pines campground is a little more isolated, making it a great option in the valley. Shady, with great views of the Merced River and Tenaya Creek, it’s within walking distance of many facilities, and a short walk from Mirror Lake and Yosemite Valley Stable. 81 sites are available for tents, RVs up to 40 feet, and trailers up to 35 feet. The sites near the Merced River are the best and first to go. Open from April to October, reservations are required. A pilot early access lottery program (available between January 18, 2022 and February 6, 2022) for arrival dates between July 21 and September 14 is being tested.
  • Camp 4: Close to El Capitan and with a large boulder onsite, Camp 4 is legendary among the climbing community. Recently expanded to 61 sites over two sections, sites are split among six people at this walk-in, tent-only campground, with flush toilets, drinking water, and hot showers. It can get pretty rowdy here so it’s best to stay elsewhere if you’re looking for peace and quiet, or you’re not a climber. Reservations are by lottery (open midnight to 4:00 pm) one day in advance from late May through early September, and first-come, first-served the rest of the year. Pets are not allowed and parking is in the lot adjacent to the campground.
  • Housekeeping Camp: Perched along the Merced River with a sandy beach nearby, stay in three-sided concrete structures with canvas roofs and privacy curtains. Bring bedding or rent them for your stay. Open seasonally.  

Yosemite West: Stay Inside the Park, But Outside the Valley

The view from Glacier Point, which is easily accessible from Yosemite West

Located in the western part of the park, south of the Arch Rock Entrance, Yosemite West is a private community of private homes and cabins. It offers numerous vacation rentals, ideal for visitors who would rather not camp or stay at a hotel.

Pros and Cons of Staying in Yosemite West

Pros: Yosemite West is located inside the park gates, so you won’t need a separate reservation to enter the park. The location near Glacier Point Road makes it easy to access Glacier Point and Badger Pass.

Cons: Despite being inside the park, it’s still a 30 to 45 minute drive to Yosemite Valley. There are also no services or amenities, including shops, and restaurants, in the community. There are no hotels here – only vacation rentals.

Best Places to Stay in Yosemite West

Vacation rentals are the best option for staying in the private community of Yosemite West. Cell coverage is spotty in this area, as is WiFi, if available. 

Most houses also do not offer air conditioning, but the area is generally much cooler than the valley due to its higher elevation. Despite the name, access is easiest from the South Entrance.

New Modern Home (1 Bedroom / 1 Bathroom)
Image courtesy of VRBO

This new and modern space is the perfect home for a couple who appreciates contemporary design. 

Built by the host with furniture made from wood from the site, the space is light and airy, with vaulted ceilings, an open floor plan, and expansive windows. It includes a full kitchen with high-end appliances, full bath with heated floors, comfortable bedding and couch, large screen TV, spacious deck overlooking the forest, and thoughtful touches like mood lighting and artwork. 

Located at the end of Yosemite West, the house backs up undeveloped forest, ensuring privacy and serenity. Yosemite Valley is 10 miles away.

Royal Retreat (2 Bedrooms / 2 Bathrooms)
Image courtesy of VRBO

With two king bedrooms, this upscale and spacious 1,400 square foot home is ideal for two couples, or a small family. 

The space is warm and inviting, with mountain modern design, Shaker-style cabinets, and handmade wooden staircase. Warm up next to the living room fireplace or lounge in the cozy loft with sofa bed. The first floor guest bedroom is ideal for those with mobility issues, while the master suite upstairs boasts a jetted tub and marble shower. 

Image courtesy of VRBO

The fully equipped kitchen is a delight to cook in, while a spacious covered deck, grill, and plentiful seating allow you to dine al fresco in any weather. Yosemite Valley is 12 miles away.

Hummingbird Raven House (3 Bedrooms / 2 Bathrooms)
Image courtesy of VRBO

Large groups and families, particularly those with kids, will appreciate six beds in this spacious house

Four bunk beds will be a hit with younger guests, while everyone will appreciate the comfortable beds, including a queen and sofa bed upstairs, and a master king down a set of spiral stairs, where a well-equipped kitchen and dining area are also located. 

The highlight is the large deck with a grill and dining area, perfect to enjoy a meal with a view. There is no cell service, internet, or satellite TV, and only one and a half baths. 

Dogs are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Badger Pass Ski Area is 8 miles away.

Camping near Yosemite West: Bridal Veil Creek Campground

Situated at 7,200 feet, it’s the only campground along Glacier Point Road, and it offers easy access to Glacier Point and nearby hikes, though it’s far (45 minutes and 26 miles) from the valley. 

There are 112 sites for tents, RVs (up to 35 feet), and trailers (up to 24 feet), groups, and horses. Sites on the outside of loops offer more space. Regular sites are first-come, while group camps and equestrian camps can be reserved. Flush toilets and drinking water are available. 

The season generally runs from July to September. 

Bridalveil Creek is closed for the 2022 season due to the closure of Glacier Point Road for repaving and waterline replacement.

The Big Oak Flat Entrance: Best for Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area

Located at the western end of the park, the Big Oak Flat Entrance along Hwy 120 is the most direct option for visitors from the Bay Area. The town of Groveland is 24 miles away, while Sonora and Jamestown are 50 and 45 miles away, respectively.

Pros and Cons of Staying near the Big Oak Flat Entrance

Pros: There are quite a few options for lodging just outside the entrance and several campgrounds can also be found inside the park not far from the Big Oak Flat Entrance. The entrance to Hetchy Hetchy is also located nearby.

Cons: It’s still a long drive to the valley from the Big Oak Flat Entrance, at around an hour and 24 miles. This is also one of the most popular entrances to the park, and traffic from the Bay Area can be an issue during busy periods. Access may be difficult during snowstorms.

The Best Places to Stay near the Big Oak Flat Entrance 

If you’re looking to stay here, you have a nice selection of different places to stay for a variety of budgets and styles. 

Rush Creek Lodge
Image courtesy of Rush Creek Lodge / Kim Carrol

Located just outside the Big Oak Flat Entrance and 25 miles from the valley, this charming lodge is as close as you can get without being inside the park. 

There’s no need to sacrifice comfort for proximity, as the contemporary resort offers well-appointed hotel-style rooms, suites with a bit more space, and hillside villas, with air conditioning, refrigerator, and extras like a deck or fireplace. 

Image courtesy of Rush Creek Lodge / Kim Carrol

A recreation concierge can help you plan your time in the park, but the 20-acre resort offers plenty of on-site amenities, including pool, hot tubs, luxury spa, restaurant, tavern, general store, indoor playground with treehouse and zip lines, pond, daily activities, and more.

The Groveland Hotel
Image courtesy of the Groveland Hotel

Located in Groveland, 24 miles away from the Big Oak Flat Entrance, this historic and pet-friendly boutique hotel is one of the oldest in the area. Guests can expect a comfortable stay in this renovated hotel with a western ambience. 

Rooms and suites offer plush bedding and free WiFi. Additional amenities include wrap-around porches, a tiered outdoor patio, live music on weekends, a bar and restaurant, snack bar and deli, and electric vehicle charging station. 

Its location on Main Street means proximity to shops, restaurants, and bars, including the historic Iron Door Saloon (the oldest continuously operating saloon in California).  

Yosemite Westgate Lodge

Located 12 miles away from Big Oak Flat (and 32 miles from the valley), in Buck Meadows, this newly remodeled lodge offers spacious and modern rooms, many of which feature two queen beds suitable for families. 

In-room amenities include air conditioning, refrigerator and microwave, satellite TV. The hotel also offers a restaurant, bar and lounge, seasonal heated outdoor pool and spa, playground, general store, laundry facilities, and playground. WiFi and electric vehicle charging stations are also available.

Red Tail Ranch

You’ll feel as if you’re staying with friends at this welcoming and highly rated bed and breakfast with incredibly helpful hosts. The peaceful, 50-acre private ranch is located 20 miles from the Big Oak Flat Entrance. 

Four comfortable rooms with private bathrooms and free WiFi are available, and all stays come with a homemade breakfast with farm-fresh eggs from the ranch. 

Enjoy nature while relaxing on the patio, around the fire pit, or pay a visit to the barn with dogs, horses, and chickens. There are also hiking trails on the property.

Camping near the Big Flat Oak Entrance

There are three good camping options near the Big Oak Flat entrance. 

  • Hodgdon Meadow: Situated at 4,900 feet along Big Oak Flat Road near the Big Oak Flat entrance, this rustic campground is set along the North Crane Creek. The valley is 45 minutes (and 25 miles) away. Open year-round, reservations are required from April to October. 105 campsites for tents and RVs (up to 55 feet), and trailers (27 feet), and includes flush toilets and drinking water. A gas station and small shop can be found nearby at Crane Flat, and access to the Merced Grove and Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias are a short drive away.
  • Crane Flat: Located along Big Oak Flat Road, just west of Crane Flat, this campground is 30 minutes (18 miles) from the valley at an elevation of 6,200 feet. It offers easy access to the trailheads for the Merced Grove and Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, just a short drive away. The seasonal campground is generally open from July to mid October, and reservations are required. 151 single and double sites are available for tents and RVs up to 35 feet (trailers up to 27 feet), along with flush toilets, drinking water, and an outdoor amphitheater. A gas station and small store is located at Crane Flat. Crane Flat Campground is undergoing renovations and will be closed until 2023.
  • Yosemite Pines: Located 22 miles away from the Big Oak Flat Entrance, this private campground and RV resort offers a range of options for your stay. Choose from tent or RV sites with hookups, glamp in a furnished yurt, retro trailer, or covered Conestoga Wagons, or stay in a comfortable cabin. Additional amenities include a pool, volleyball court, Bocce ball court, petting farm, and deli.

The South Entrance and Fish Camp: Best for Coming from Los Angeles

Near the South Entrance, Mariposa Grove is the place to go to see giant Sequoias

The South Entrance is the easiest for those coming from Los Angeles, Fresno, and other areas to the south. 

The town of Fish Camp is just 2 miles from the South Entrance and offers limited amenities, but more options can be found in the larger town of Oakhurst, 16 miles away.

Pros and Cons of Staying near the South Entrance

Pros: There are good options for both hotels and vacation rentals around Fish Camp. The South Entrance offers the closest access to Mariposa Grove, the largest of the three groves of giant sequoias in the park.

Cons: The South Entrance is quite far from Yosemite Valley, an hour and 29 miles away.

The Best Places to Stay near the South Entrance

There are a couple of nice places to stay near the south entrance, mostly in the town of Fish Creek. 

Tenaya Lodge

Located in Fish Camp just outside the South Entrance, this destination resort offers a luxurious stay. 

Choose from spacious and plush hotel rooms, cottage rooms with fireplaces, or private two-bedroom cabins with private decks, and amenities like mini-fridges, flat screen TVs, and free WiFi. 

There are no shortage of things to do, with four pools, four hot tubs, luxury spa, climbing wall, archery lessons, kids adventure course, full concierge service, bike rentals, hiking and horseback riding trails, and winter activities like ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing. 

Several restaurants and a deli ensure you won’t go hungry. Pets welcome.

Narrow Gauge Inn

Located 4 miles from the South Entrance, this delightful and old-fashioned country inn offers plenty of rustic charm. 

All of the comfortably furnished rooms include a private bathroom, satellite TV, free WiFi, air conditioning, and a balcony or deck with forest or mountain views. The inn offers a seasonal fine dining restaurant, bar, and lounge, a seasonal pool and hot tub, and gift shop. 

Take a stroll along the creekside nature trail surrounded by towering oaks and pines, or head downhill to the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad next door for a scenic railroad trip aboard a restored steam locomotive. Pets are welcome. 

Little Ahwahnee Inn

Located in Fish Camp near the South Entrance, this custom chateau on a 5-acre property offers a luxurious stay for families and groups. 

Built with rare heart redwood and granite stone, and featuring cathedral ceilings, the home exudes rustic elegance. The master suite features a king bed, private deck, and a bathroom with soaking tub and shower. A second balcony suite offers a queen bed and queen sofa bed, while a loft area offers daybeds with trundles perfect for kids. 

Warm up around the massive granite fireplace or enjoy entertainment on the satellite TV. Cook in the gourmet kitchen or grill out on the deck with forest views. 

Wawona Hotel

Located in the southern part of the park, 25 miles from the valley, this National Historic Landmark hotel offers more than 100 rooms (with private or shared bathrooms) with period décor and antique furnishing in whitewashed Victorian buildings. 

Relax on an Adirondack chair on the expansive grand verandahs overlooking the fountains. Amenities include a restaurant, lounge, seasonal pool, golf course, tennis courts, and riding stables. 

Open seasonally from March to November and parts of December and January. There are no TVs, phones, or WiFi.

Cozy Cabin with Hot Tub in the Pines (1 Bedroom / 2 Bathrooms) 
Image courtesy of VRBO

This adorable cabin in the woods is perfect for a couple or a small family or group. The wood paneling interior and wood burning stove is rustic and cozy. 

A spiral staircase leads to a loft bedroom, while a separate futon area can be found downstairs. Two full bathrooms feature a walk-in stone shower and a full tub. 

A well-equipped kitchen and grill makes it easy to enjoy meals in, while a large screen TV and board games provide entertainment. The highlight is the spacious patio, yard, and garden area, with Adirondack chairs, dining table, and a four-person hot tub, perfect for relaxing after a day of adventures. 

Pets welcome. The South Entrance is 2 miles away.

Firefall Lodge (3 Bedrooms / 2 Bathrooms)
Image courtesy of VRBO

This stunning and spacious 2,500 square foot home offers a luxurious getaway for large families and groups. 

The great room lives up to its name, with vaulted ceilings, handcrafted furniture, fireplace, large screen TV, and a barn wood game table. Relax in the cozy sunroom or gather for drinks around the wet bar. 

Image courtesy of VRBO

Guests will enjoy cooking in the well-stocked kitchen with modern appliances, or on the grill, with large dining tables indoors and outdoors. Two out of four suites offer exterior deck access, or enjoy the serene forest setting from the expansive patio lounge. 

There’s plenty of parking for the whole group. Tenaya Lodge is across the road and the South Entrance is 2 miles away.

Tree Top Cabin (3 Bedrooms / 3 Bathrooms)
Image courtesy of VRBO

Enjoy peaceful tree top views at this family-friendly cabin in Fish Camp. 

Three bedrooms include a comfortable master with a queen and twin beds and sitting area, and a bedroom with a twin over double bunk bed. A fully equipped kitchen and large dining table make it easy to dine in. 

Relax on the front deck, or sit around the fire pit or soak in the hot tub on the back deck.

Image courtesy of VRBO

A TV with Netflix, DVD player, WiFi, dartboard, games, puzzles, guitar, record player, albums, and teddy bears provide plenty of entertainment to keep even the kids happy. 

There are trails near the house, and the South Entrance is 2 miles away.

Camping near the South Entrance: Wawona Campground

The southernmost place to camp in the park, this campground is located along the South Fork of the Merced River, and near historic Wawona, the Wawona Hotel, the Pioneer History Center, and a Visitor Center. 

It’s ideal for accessing Mariposa Grove, though it’s 45 minutes (27 miles) from the valley. 93 sites are available for tents, and RVs and trailers up to 35 feet. Flush toilets and drinking water are available. 

Open year-round, reservations area available from mid-June to late-October. Campground opening in 2022 will depend on the completion of utility work.

The Arch Rock Entrance (El Portal): Best for Year Round Valley Access

The road into the Arch Rock Entrance follows the winding Merced River

Located southeast of the Big Oak Flat Entrance, the Arch Rock Entrance offers access from northern California.

The charming town of Mariposa is 45 minutes (and 32 miles) away. El Portal is the closest town to the entrance, but offers limited amenities and facilities. 

Pros and Cons of Staying near the Arch Rock Entrance 

Pros: It offers the shortest drive to the valley, at just 15 miles and 30 minutes. The lower elevation means the entrance is open year-round and your best over the winter. 

Cons: There aren’t any campgrounds inside the park near this entrance. Flooding can also be an issue for the entrance road. The town of El Portal offers limited amenities.

The Best Places to Stay near the Arch Rock Entrance

If you’re looking to stay as close to the valley as you can without paying valley prices, here are your best bets.

AutoCamp Yosemite 

Located on Hwy 140 north of Mariposa, 35 miles from the valley, AutoCamp offers a fun and unique stay. 

You can glamp in style in a luxury tent, a cute cabin with bathroom, kitchenette, private decks with porch swings, vintage airstream with bathroom and kitchenette, or an accessible suite or luxury tent. 

Airstream and tent sites offer more space for families and groups, and all options include outdoor space. 

There’s also a clubhouse, fire pits, lawn games, seasonal heated pool, freshwater pond, hammock grove, loaner bikes to ride around the property, general store, food and drink offerings, and free WiFi, coffee, and tea. 

Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort

Located along Hwy 140, 26 miles away from Yosemite Valley, this rustic mountain resort offers a wide range of accommodation options, a social atmosphere, and attracts a diverse group of guests. 

Choose from budget rooms with shared baths, hostel dorm rooms, family dorm rooms, glamping tent cabins, and vacation homes. Terraced into a hillside above Mariposa, a stream with swimming holes and trails run through the campus-style property. 

Amenities include a spa, sauna, and whirlpool, a firepit amphitheater, and a lounge area with games. The lively cafe serves good food and is a popular place to gather and mingle.

Yosemite View Lodge

Located less than 9 miles from the Arch Rock Entrance, and just 15 miles from the valley, this convenient hotel is situated right along the Merced River. 

All rooms include WiFi, cable TV, climate control, kitchenette, while select rooms include a fireplace or spa tubs, and stunning views of the Merced River from the balcony. 

The hotel offers four indoor and outdoor pools and seven indoor and outdoor spas, a restaurant, pizzeria, cocktail lounge, fitness center, convenience store, gift shop, and laundry facilities. Pets welcome.

Camping near the Arch Rock Entrance 

There are a couple of nice places to camp along the road to the Arch Rock Entrance along the Merced River, though the options are pretty limited compared to other places you could stay.

  • Sierra National Forest: Two tent-only forest service campgrounds are located on the north side of the Merced River near the Arch Rock Entrance. The Dry Gulch Campground offers 4 walk-in sites with vault toilets, while the Dirt Flat Campground offers 2 walk-in sites with vault toilets. 
  • Indian Flat RV Park: Located 8 miles from the Arch Rock Entrance, Indian Flat offers 50 tent and RV sites with hookups, two cabins, and a tent cabin. There’s a gift shop on-site and access to a swimming pool next door. 

Other Cool Places to Stay Near Yosemite National Park

These additional options outside of the main areas discussed above are worth considering for your stay.

The Evergreen Lodge

Located in Mather, just 1 mile away from the Hetch Hetchy entrance, and 30 miles from Yosemite Valley, this historic resort offers both rustic and deluxe stays in their cozy cabins and cottages.

Over the summer, furnished and fully set-up tents are available. Extensive amenities include a seasonal pool (with bar), hot tub, massages, restaurant, bar (with pool table and live music), rec center, playground, outdoor activities, amphitheater, general store, and equipment rentals.

It’s the sister property to the Rush Creek Lodge. WiFi and electric car charging stations are available.

Apple Blossom Inn

Situated on a mountain ridge overlooking Oakhurst Valley, 24 miles from the South Entrance, this romantic and pet-friendly bed and breakfast celebrates all things apple related, including apple-themed décor.

There’s an organic apple orchard, garden, spacious deck, and hot tub on the property. Three guestrooms offer private bathrooms. Some have balconies or private entrances.

Families can stay in the two-bedroom suite in the standalone carriage house for more space. Free WiFi and breakfast are included.

Other Camping Options in Yosemite

Additional camping options can also be found along Tioga Road. For those traveling in a group, with horses, or with plans to head into the backcountry, additional campsite options are also available.

Tamarack Flat: Located 4 miles east of Crane Flat, off Tioga Road (and 20 miles away from the valley), the campground is situated at 6,300 feet. Set around Tamarack Creek and surrounded by lush trees, it’s a good spot to escape the crowds. Seasonally open from June to mid-October, this first-come, first-served campground offers 52 basic campsites and vault toilets. Creek water is available but must be treated. RVs and trailers are not recommended. This is a popular site with backpackers. There’s also a gas station at Crane Flat.

Porcupine Flat Campground: Located over an hour northeast of the valley at 8,100 feet and off Tioga Road, west of Tenaya Lake, this campground is a good base for hiking the high country. Seasonally open from July through early September, 52 first-come, first-served sites are available for tents. RVs and trailers are not recommended. There are vault toilets, but no running water. Creek water is available but must be treated. The setting is idyllic, under pine trees and among large boulders, but road noise can be a concern.

Tuolumne Meadows Campground: Located 1.5 hours away from the valley on Tioga Road at 8,600 feet, this is the largest campground in the park, with 304 well-spaced sites for tents, and RVs  and trailers (up to 35 feet), group campsites, horse campsites, flush toilets, and drinking water. The best sites are near the Tuolumne River. Seasonally open from July to September, half the sites can be reserved, while the other half is first-come, first-served. Ranger-led programs are available, and a restaurant, general store, post office, stables, dump station, and trailheads are nearby. 

Tuolumne Meadows Campground is closed until 2024 or 2025 for a major rehabilitation program. This includes the backpackers campground.

White Wolf Campground: Situated at 8,000 feet and along Tioga Road (around 1 hour from the valley), this campground is ideally situated for backcountry trails, and a short distance away from several lakes, including Lukens Lake and Harden Lake. 74 sites are available for tents, RVs (up to 27 feet), and trailers (up to 24 feet), along with flush toilets and potable water. The sites are all first-come, first-served, and the season typically runs from July to September. Ranger-led programs are available and the White Wolf Lodge is a short walk away, and offers meals, snacks, and drinks. 

Yosemite Creek Campground: Situated at 7,700 feet off Tioga Road, this is the most secluded of the campgrounds in the park, as it requires a drive along a rough 4.5-mile road to access. 75 sites are available for tents—RVs and trailers are not recommended. Vault toilets are available. There’s no potable water, though creek water is available (but must be treated first). Typically open between July and September, all the sites are first-come, first-served.  

Group campsites are available at Bridalveil Creek, Hodgdon Meadow, Tuolumne Meadows, and Wawona and offer space for groups of up to 30 people.  

For backpacking and overnight stays in the wilderness in Yosemite, a wilderness permit is required. There are a limited number available, and they must be applied for in advance. One-night backpacker campsites are available in the valley at Sugarpine Bridge, at Hetch Hetchy, and at Tuolumne Meadows (closed through 2024 or 2025).

High Sierra Camps at Glen Aulin, May Lakes, Sunrise, Merced Lake, and Vogelsang are also available and offer backcountry camping without having to carry any camping equipment.

Getting to Yosemite National Park

To reach Yosemite year-round, the two main starting points are San Francisco from the west, and Los Angeles from the south. From elsewhere, most visitors should fly to one of several nearby airports, then drive the rest of the way to the park. You can check on the latest conditions here before finalizing your plans.

Coming from San Francisco (4 hours / 180 miles)

From San Francisco, you’re lucky to have a few good route options. It’s easiest to enter the park at Big Oak Flat, Hetch Hetchy, and Arch Rock

Take I-80 east to I-580 east past Livermore, and take I-205 east and connect to Hwy 120 east at Manteca. Drive for 85 miles until you reach the Big Oak Flat entrance past Groveland. The Hetch Hetchy entrance is only 1 mile away from the Big Oak Flat entrance.

Alternatively, to enter at Arch Rock (El Portal), take I-5 south (instead of I-205 east) for 30 miles until you reach Hwy 140, and then continue for 140 miles until you reach Arch Rock.

Coming from Los Angeles (6 hours / 350 miles)

From Los Angeles, it’s easiest to use the South Entrance (Wawona). Take I-5 north to Hwy 99 north. At Fresno, take Hwy 41 north for 65 miles until you reach the South Entrance.

Coming from Elsewhere

The closest airport for year-round access to the park is Fresno-Yosemite airport (2 hours / 65 miles). 

Sacramento airport (3.5 hours / 150 miles), Oakland airport (3.5 hours / 150 miles), San Francisco airport (4 hours / 175 miles) and San Jose airport (4 hours / 165 miles) are also options.

Reno airport is 3 hours and 150 miles away and Mammoth Lakes Airport is only 1 hour and 45 miles, but both only offer access when Tioga Pass is open.

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