There is no lack of choices for accommodations in and near Yosemite National Park. Yosemite Valley is the hub for lodging, dining, and other services within the park, and is usually quite crowded in summer, but it offers the best location -- close to Yosemite's main attractions and with easy access to the park's shuttle-bus system.
A more narrow scope of choices is available outside the valley but still within the park: You can camp at Wawona, Tuolumne Meadows, White Wolf, and a host of other sites; there are privately owned cabins as well.
In addition, there are some delightful (and generally less expensive) accommodations, campgrounds, and restaurants outside the park in the gateway communities of El Portal, Mariposa, Oakhurst, Lee Vining, and Groveland.
Inside the Park
In the parks, your options are fairly limited; the finite number of rooms and seemingly limitless number of peak-season visitors make for high occupancy and rates. And the fact that many of the parks' hostelries have historic designations means they might not fit some visitors' modern tastes.
For information on much of the lodging within Yosemite National Park, contact DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, P.O. Box 578, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389 (tel. 801/559-5000; www.yosemitepark.com). For lodging information and reservations at Wuksachi Lodge in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park, call tel. 866/807-3598 or 801/559-4930, or visit www.visitsequoia.com. For information on Grant Grove, John Muir, or Cedar Grove lodges in Kings Canyon National Park, call tel. 866/522-6966 or 559/335-5500, or visit www.sequoia-kingscanyon.com.
In the gateway cities, there is more variety, from dorm-style hostels to luxury ski resorts. House-swapping is a possibility in many of the gateway cities, especially Visalia and Oakhurst.
In addition, more than 130 private homes in the park can be rented through Redwoods in Yosemite, P.O. Box 2085, Wawona Station, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389 (tel. 888/225-6666; www.redwoodsinyosemite.com). Offerings range from cabins to vacation homes, all furnished and equipped with linens, cookware, and dishes. Summer rates range from $250 a night for a one-bedroom cabin to $800 or more for a six-bedroom spread; there are usually 3-night minimum stays in summer, 2-night minimums the rest of the year. You'll find a similar operation at Yosemite West Lodging (tel. 559/642-2211; www.yosemitewestreservations.com), which rents private homes, cottages, and condo units in a forested area in the park about 10 miles from Yosemite Valley and 8 miles from Badger Pass. Nightly rates range from $95 to $495 in summer.
Outside the Park
Outside the park you'll find a plethora of choices, many of which are less expensive than lodging within the park.
Along California 120 & Groveland (West of the Park) -- Charming little Groveland oozes historic character, but our favorite lodgings here are closer to the entrance to Yosemite off California 41. Yosemite Lodgings (www.staynearyosemite.com) is a group of a dozen inns, cabin resorts, and historic hotels near the Big Oak Flat Entrance.
Along California 140 & Mariposa -- Mariposa is a small town with plenty of Western character. It makes for a good base but requires a bit of driving to get in and out of Yosemite proper.
Along California 41 & Oakhurst -- Something of a bedroom community for Fresno, Oakhurst is a modern city that lacks the Western charm of Mariposa and Groveland. It is difficult to find a room here under $150 in peak summer season; bargain hunters should best look to stay in Fresno or Madera en route to Yosemite.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.