The most important thing to remember about any visit to Yosemite is “plan ahead”.
Especially true in the summer and on weekends but at any time of year you will do much better in terms of accommodations if you make reservations up to 6 months or more ahead of your visit.
I have walked up to the hotel desk in the middle of winter and gotten a room at one of the most popular lodges in the park but don’t count on it.
Hotels Outside Yosemite – Reasons
In another article I talk about Yosemite hotels and lodges inside the park but this article is about the options for staying near the park. Don’t expect any bargains just because you stay outside the park boundaries nor is it necessarily easier to get last minute reservations.[sam id=1 codes=’false’]
The park lodges can’t possibly hold everyone so hotels outside Yosemite are both popular and necessary for the overflow as well as offering their own holiday advantages.
Hotels Outside Yosemite – Southern Options
Along highway 41 inside Yosemite there are a number of private homes along the park boundary. Many of these homes in the area known as Yosemite West are available for short and long-term rentals through their owners or agencies.
A bit farther south is the tiny community of Fish Camp. Mostly a collection of hotels outside Yosemite and restaurants the only service is a small general store. You’ll even have to drive 13 miles south for gas but you will find more modern and upscale options here than at the nearby historic Wawona Hotel inside the park.
Hotels Outside Yosemite – Eastern Options
The little town of Lee Vining was named after a prospector who killed himself when his pistol went off accidentally in his pocket.
In this town you will find a general store and gas stations in a not very picturesque town offering several reasonably priced hotels outside Yosemite.
Lee Vining has an important advantage in that it is the closest place to get reasonable accommodations near the spectacular eastern high country of Yosemite.
Lee Vining is also near the popular tourist attractions of Mono Lake, Bodie and Mammoth Mountain and is therefore a great lodging location for exploring all of the interesting country east of Yosemite.
Hotels Outside Yosemite – Northern Options
Just off highway 120 near the boundary is the area of Foresta offering private home rentals. A little farther away are the tiny towns of Camp Mather and Buck Meadows. To call them towns is a joke because all you will find there are clusters of small resorts and hotels outside Yosemite.
They are both in forested areas, particularly Camp Mather, with their own activities and being less than an hour from Yosemite Valley makes them a good choice for family holidays.
Such options as fly-fishing, swimming, tennis, and volleyball are offered at various lodges in these locations and they are both near the Hetch Hetchy valley and reservoir and are thus a great gateway to high-country hiking and adventure.
Hotels Outside Yosemite – Western Options
The last town on highway 140 before the park boundary is El Portal. This is as close as you can get to Yosemite Valley without being in the park.
A market and gas are available in El Portal as well as two large hotels outside Yosemite that tend to cater to foreign tourists on bus tours, a B&B and RV PARK. Prices are not particularly cheap and the rooms are full in the summer so plan ahead.
Hotels outside Yosemite offer room options when lodging in the park is full or doesn’t suit your needs as well as access to other areas of interest for your holiday fun.