Looking for a new way to experience the Yosemite region? Several alternative lodging options are now available for intrepid travelers to this popular destination.
Yosemite has always offered a wide variety of excellent lodging options to visitors. Inside the Park guests can enjoy everything from luxury accommodations at the Ahwahnee Hotel to a rustic walk-in campsite at Camp 4. Outside and to the west of the Park, the towns of Groveland and Mariposa provide a number of large and small choices for every taste and price range.
Today’s travelers are looking for a more unique vacation experience and are considering all their options. Many are seeking an alternative to traditional hotel, motel, and camping venues. Looking for some space? Some local vacation rentals are located on multi-acre properties allowing unmatched privacy in an area not far from one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. The internet has widened the ability to browse new and more adventurous lodging choices. Here are a few you might want to explore.
Yosemite Private Vacation Rentals
The Yosemite region is dotted with private homes that have been converted into vacation rentals. Air BnB has over 100 large and small vacation rentals listed on their Yosemite section. Options include large mountain retreats hidden on private land surrounded by National Forest and several smaller units renting for $50-$100 per night. While Air BnB has become quite popular and listings can book early, don’t despair. Some of the nicest properties are available on smaller websites, and there are plenty to explore.
Mariposa County’s Yosemite.com website lists a host of unique private cabins, most of which are located west of the park. All are within approximately an hour’s driving time from our meeting spot for Merced river rafting trips and a little over an hour from Yosemite Valley. For those traveling in groups, cabins with equipped kitchens offer a great spot to gather after a day of hiking or paddling. View all of their offerings on the Yosemite.com cabin rentals page.
4yosemite.com hosts several unique private vacation rentals in the community of Foresta, a small tract of private land located inside the Park boundaries. Foresta is 16 miles east of Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat Entrance off Hwy 120 and just 13 miles from Yosemite Valley. These cabins vary in size, most sleep up to 8 persons. They are managed and rented directly by homeowners so you can avoid the extra services charged by VRBO and Air BnB.
The area around Pine Mountain Lake near the town of Groveland also has many excellent vacation rental options. It is located just 15 minutes from Sierra Mac’s meeting spot for Main Tuolumne and Cherry Creek/Upper Tuolumne rafting trips. Many of these properties can be reserved on the Yosemite Region Resorts website.
Glamping – Yosemite Style
A mixture of glamour and camping, glamping combines the pleasures of sleeping in the outdoors with the amenities of a luxury boutique resort. Choose from Glamping campgrounds (glampgrounds?) with multiple luxury canvas tents, or more rustic private locations. Proponents of glamping expound on the virtues of a more authentic travel experience, a better way to connect with the environment, and as a way to avoid summer crowds inside the Park. Guests will enjoy the comfy beds, awesome views, and (usually) great coffee.
Autocamp Yosemite, located in Midpines on California Hwy 140 between Mariposa and Yosemite offers custom Airstream trailers, luxury tents, and modern cabins all situated about 5 minutes from Sierra Mac’s meeting spot for Merced rafting trips. Amenities include a heated pool, curated food and beverage options at the AutoCamp store, and complimentary coffee and tea. Guests can take advantage of the daily shuttle bus service to and from Yosemite Valley. The community fire pit is a great place to meet fellow travelers and brag about your rafting trip. Private meeting and event spaces are also available. To check dates and view more details visit the AutoCamp.com website.
HipCamp.com is an online listing of unique camping experiences across the US. Sort of an Air BnB for campers and RVs. HipCamp’s Yosemite pages lists dozens of exotic options spreading across the entire region. There are some really cool spots here with choices that run from simple locations to pitch your tent or RV on someone’s private land ($25) to rustic cabins and multi-site locations with well-equipped shared kitchens. The HipCamp site also very usefully provides links to more traditional Forest Service and National Park campgrounds. HipCamp has locations across the US. – Sierra Mac says check it out.
Pick some dates and plan
Campgrounds in and around Yosemite can fill quickly during peak season. Check out our Merced River Campground Guide and Tuolumne River Campground Guide for information on locations operated by the US Forest Service and BLM. Some of these don’t require reservations and are first come-first served.
Navigating Yosemite can be a little crazy sometimes. Take the road less traveled. Plan ahead, line up some dates with friends and book some time at one of these unique properties. Then go deeper. Plan a single or multi-day rafting adventure on one of the amazing rivers of Yosemite.