By Paul and Teresa Lowe

Just about anytime of the year can reveal a wonderful experience inside Yosemite National Park for many visitors. For a more peaceful and less crowded adventure the months after the summer season are best. Staying within the centuries old park grounds puts you right in the center of some of our planet’s more spectacular natural beauty. Also within Yosemite Park is convenience; restaurants, the Half Dome Village and the Visitors and Tourism Center, tram and bus tours, walking and bicycle trails, campgrounds, peaceful meadows and the waterfalls.

PHOTOS: Places to Lay Your Head – Yosemite National Park

Visitors staying at the Yosemite Valley Lodge enjoy a hotel with extraordinary fine dinning rooms with direct view of Yosemite Falls. This is an older hotel with rustic styling. That means no elevators and smaller but beautiful rooms.  ($$$-$$$$)

Guests staying at the Majestic Yosemite Lodge (formerly the Ahwahnee Hotel) experience a cozy atmosphere of the late 1890’s to 1900 (when the property was first built). There are present day hotel features. This elegantly appointed hotel features a beautiful Great Room and a very fine dinning restaurant where folks are encouraged to dress up for the elegant meals.

A short two mile drive from the southern entrance of the park along Highway 41 (a 50 minute drive south of the Yosemite valley village) is the spectacular Tenaya Lodge property. This recently renovated four diamond resort and hotel is hidden away in the Sierra National Forest. Guests staying at the Tenaya enjoy 35 acres of sprawling year round activities including swimming, wall climbing, arcade and archery games and day spas. In winter there’s even a winter park with ice skating.

The breakfast buffet, lunch at the bar and grill restaurants to fine dinning at the Embers restaurant get high praise from guests like Penny and Jeff. While chatting with them in the hotel’s spacious lobby, this couple from nearby Fresno said the Tenaya is their “wilderness getaway.” General Manager Paul Ratchford and Executive Chef Frederick Claubaugh and his team take particular care planning and pairing meals and wines that are produced locally in the vast agricultural region of the San Joaquin Valley. The dishes served to guests are to die for delicious-WOW!

For an economical RV or camping stay outside of Yosemite National Park visitors find the Bass Lake RV Resort to be ideal. There are both RV spaces as well as fully equipped cabins for rent. If you enjoy being friendly with neighbors this is definitely a place for social campers. Owners of the resort, are incredibly gracious to guests. Resort General Manager DeeDee Thomas says the resort even dresses up for holidays. RV’s and cabins are decorated with lights and festival bonnets.

Visitors wanting fine dining or even a mini market find both next door to the RV Resort in the Pines Village. The place locals recommend for great food and fun is Ducey’s on the Lake. The drinks are good and strong and the appetizers (lamp lollipops) are quite delicious. Anglers wanting to drop a line to catch a trout, crappie or a bass can do so just about anywhere along Bass Lake. Bass Lake is ideally located at the 35-hundred foot level. That’s high enough to be above the scorching summer heat of California’s Central Valley and winter fog. The area is also low enough for visitors to enjoy the fall and winter seasons without heavy snow fall.  ($$-$$$)

Visitors wanting to explore the western portion of the Yosemite Park region, along Highway 120, find the community of Groveland a real treat. The quaint and friendly community is home to a few delightful hotels and Bed and Breakfast Inns. For visitors wanting a bit more for their accommodations will find several Groveland Resort area property owners offering the rental of their entire homes for weeks at a time. Some homes sit adjacent to a man-made lake. While staying in this area its common to find deer, squirrels, large birds and other wildlife peacefully hanging out in the incredibly peaceful neighborhoods.  ($$$-$$$$)

More camping outside of Yosemite National Park can be found at a variety of KOA sites which are located just off of the main highways of all park entrances. These sites come with RV and tenting electrical hook ups and include showers.  ($-$$)

Veteran visitors to national parks say to newbies, ‘while you’re here play and rejuvenate.’

Up next, look for Fall, Winter and Holiday coverage of Yosemite and other national and state parks.


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