Where to stay in Yosemite.
Home » Yosemite National Park » Where to Stay in Yosemite: BEST Areas, Camping, & Lodging

Where to Stay in Yosemite: BEST Areas, Camping, & Lodging

Sharing is caring!

Wondering where to stay in Yosemite National Park? Totally confused by this massive area? Not sure which entrance to go through?

Phew, I hear ya! Yosemite is a beast and figuring out where to stay isn’t an easy task. Lucky for you, you’re here now. We got you!

Here’s everything to know about the best areas in Yosemite and where to stay in Yosemite!


Wait! You’ll need to pay a fee before entering Yosemite National Park.

You can purchase one for $35 per vehicle once you get here (good for seven consecutive days) or consider grabbing an America the Beautiful Pass if you’re visiting more national parks this year.


Where to Stay in Yosemite

Want the quick low down? No worries, we get it. Below are our top picks for being the absolute best option and closest to the action. Here’s your go-to quick list:


The main double bedroom of The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite.

The Ahwahnee

A 4-star hotel IN The Valley. You’re in the middle of everything. You can’t get any closer.


Living area if the Yosemite Magic Studio.

Yosemite Magic Studio B

A studio apartment of your very own just minutes from Glacier Point Road!


Sunlight over the pool area of Rush Creek Lodge in Yosemite.

Rush Creek Lodge and Spa

Just minutes from the Big Oak Flat Entrance and one of the nicer hotels in the Yosemite area.

The Five Entrances to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is a big place filled with wonders and adventures at every turn. But before you can see any of that, you’ve got to get in! This is a confusing task, especially if it’s your first time visiting, so let us help.

There are five main entrances, each serving as a gateway to different parts of this majestic park.

One of the many entrance signs to Yosemite National Park beside a road running past a mountain.
Welcome to Yosemite!

Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. South Entrance: This entrance is your golden ticket if you’re coming from Southern California. It’s near the town of Oakhurst and brings you close to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Imagine walking among some of the largest trees on Earth right after you enter the park!
  2. Arch Rock Entrance: If you’re rolling in from the west via cities like San Francisco or Merced, this entrance is your best bet. It’s one of the most popular ways to get into Yosemite Valley, thanks to its scenic route that includes the famous Arch Rock entryway.
  3. Big Oak Flat Entrance: Coming from the north(west)? It’s accessible from places like San Francisco (a bit of a longer drive than the Arch Rock Entrance) and offers a direct route to the northern parts of Yosemite Valley and the beautiful Tuolumne Grove.
  4. Tioga Pass Entrance: This one’s a bit special because it’s only open during the warmer months, usually from late spring through fall. If you’re adventuring from the east, say from areas near Mono Lake or coming through Nevada, this is your entrance. It’s the highest in elevation and offers breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada.
  5. Hetch Hetchy Entrance: Looking for something a bit off the beaten path? The Hetch Hetchy area is less crowded and offers stunning views and hikes around the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. This one is the most out of the way and least used entrances.

Are you a visual learner? Same! That’s why I made a map for you. Check this map out to better understand where to stay in Yosemite.

The five park entrances are white with a red pin, and the purple circles represent the areas where accommodation is available.

Map of entrances and campgrounds in Yosemite National Park.
Map of entrances and areas to stay in Yosemite National Park.

Where to Stay in Yosemite: 7 Areas

I know what you’re thinking… “Ok that’s great and all but WHERE do I stay in Yosemite?!”

I get it, but we had to get that out of the way first, so you understand what area you should stay in. This place is freakin huge. Are you coming from Nevada? From the California Coast? Up from LA?

Are you planning this 500 years in advance so you can actually snag a spot within The Valley, or are you planning this kind of last-minute, where you’ll end up on the outskirts of Groveland or El Portal?

View of El Capitan mountain from the road through Yosemite on a clear day.
El Capitan from the road.

So it’s not that easy to tell you where to stay, you’ll need to pick your area, and even after that, depending on how early you’re planning your trip, it will determine where you end up staying in Yosemite.

Below, you’ll find where to stay in Yosemite in the seven different locations, either within the park or near an entrance.

1. Yosemite Valley—IN The Park!

The hub of Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Valley, is surrounded by famous landmarks like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan.

Ideal for those wanting to be at the center of everything, it offers direct access to the park’s renowned hikes and breathtaking views.

These options are actually INSIDE the park, unlike many of the rest. There aren’t too many options here, so you’ll want to book these well in advance.

Valley Views of huge mountains from the base of the river in Yosemite.
Valley Views!

Best Campsites in Yosemite Valley

  • Upper Pines Campground
    • Set in the shadow of Half Dome, Upper Pines offers a quintessential Yosemite camping experience, with trails and stunning vistas right at your doorstep.
  • Lower Pines Campground
    • Located by the tranquil Merced River, Lower Pines is perfect for those wanting to enjoy water activities and capture the beautiful reflections of Yosemite’s landmarks in the river.
  • North Pines Campground
    • Known for its quieter atmosphere, North Pines provides a peaceful haven, yet still offers great access to the park’s highlights.
  • Camp 4
    • Favored by rock climbers, Camp 4 is rich in climbing history. As a walk-in campground, it’s ideal for those seeking to dive into the climbing culture of Yosemite.
Green and orange vintage campervan parked between tents in the forests of a Yosemite campground.
Camping in Yosemite! One of many of our trips.

Lodging in Yosemite Valley

  • Yosemite Valley Lodge
    • A favorite for families and those seeking convenience, Yosemite Valley Lodge is close to Yosemite Falls and offers comfortable accommodations with stunning views.
  • The Ahwahnee
    • Known for its stunning architecture and historic significance, The Ahwahnee is a luxury hotel offering fine dining and elegant rooms, making it perfect for those looking for a more upscale stay in the valley.
  • Curry Village
    • Offering a range of accommodations from canvas tent cabins to standard hotel rooms, Curry Village is a great option for those looking for a more rustic or budget-friendly stay within Yosemite Valley.

👉 More Accommodation in The Valley

2. Fish Camp (Near South Entrance)

Just outside Yosemite’s South Entrance, Fish Camp is close to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, offering a quaint woodland experience perfect for nature lovers.

This area of the park isn’t too happening but it can be a quieter area to base out of. The tiny town of Fish Camp doesn’t have much but you’re only five minutes from the south entrance and about one hour to The Valley.

A foggy day between the giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove.
Giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove.

Best Campsites Near Fish Camp

  • Summerdale Campground
    • Located just outside the park near Fish Camp, Summerdale offers a serene setting with the backdrop of tall pines and is close to a babbling creek.

Lodging Near Fish Camp

  • Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
    • This upscale resort offers a range of accommodations, from luxurious rooms to cozy cabins, complete with indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and dining options.
  • Big Creek Inn
    • A charming, unfussy B&B offering comfortable rooms and all within a short drive to the Mariposa Grove.

👉 More Accommodation Near Fish Camp

3. El Portal (Near Arch Rock Entrance)

El Portal serves as a convenient gateway to Yosemite Valley along the scenic Merced River, offering a mix of natural beauty and accessibility.

This entrance is the closest to The Valley, and as the name suggests, there’s literally an Arch Rock Entrance. This means you’ll need to be under 45 feet if you’re towing and threre’s a height limit of 12 feet 10 inches.

The town doesn’t offer up much but a gas station that usually, but not always works (ask me how I know!), a restaurant or two and a few hotels.

A misty road with fall colors running through trees in Yosemite National Park.
Driving in to Yosemite National Park on a foggy day in fall.

Best Campsites Near El Portal

  • Indian Flat Campground
    • Located just outside Yosemite National Park in Incline, near El Portal, Indian Flat Campground offers tent sites, RV spots, and rustic cabins. It’s nothing special, but it’s one of the closest to this entrance.
Entrance sign to Indian Flat RV Park in the Yosemite mountains on a sunny day.
An awesome spot to camp!

Lodging in El Portal

  • Yosemite View Lodge
    • Located on the banks of the Merced River, this lodge offers rooms with river views and is equipped with kitchenettes, making it ideal for families or longer stays.
  • Cedar Lodge
    • A family-friendly option with indoor and outdoor pools, Cedar Lodge provides comfortable accommodations just a short drive from the park entrance.

👉 More Accommodation Near El Portal

4. Lee Vining (Near Tioga Pass Entrance)

Lee Vining is the gateway to the eastern Sierra, offering access to Mono Lake, the Tioga Pass, and the high country of Yosemite.

This is a steep and narrow road but a dramatic and stunning gateway into the park. You’ll want to stop 100 times before even getting near The Valley with Tuolumne Meadows, Tenaya Lake, Olmsted Point, and more along the way.

Tioga Road is seasonal though, it’s closed in winter.

While this is one of the better towns, as in, there’s more resources here than others, it’s the furthest out. You don’t want to stay here multiple nights as it’s two hours to The Valley from here!

Instead, this is a good spot to stay before/after Yosemite or if you’re just checking out everything to do on Tioga Road.

Tioga Pass road with stunning grey cliffs on a partially cloudy day.
Tioga Pass.

Best Campsites Near Lee Vining

  • Saddlebag Lake Campground
    • Located outside Yosemite but close to the Tioga Pass Entrance, Saddlebag Lake Campground offers high-elevation camping near a stunning alpine lake. It’s perfect for those looking to hike in the high Sierra or fish in the abundant lakes and streams.

Lodging in Lee Vining

  • Tioga Pass Resort
    • A rustic lodge with cabins and motel rooms, providing a cozy base for exploring the eastern Sierra and Yosemite’s high country.
  • Lake View Lodge
    • Offering comfortable accommodations with the convenience of being close to Mono Lake, this lodge is a great stopover for those entering or leaving Yosemite via Tioga Pass.

👉 More Accommodation Near Lee Vining

5. Groveland (Near Big Oak Flat Entrance)

As a gateway to the northern parts of Yosemite, Groveland offers a historic small-town atmosphere, complete with Gold Rush-era charm.

You’re still a good 25 miles (30 minutes) from the Big Oak Flat Entrance but this is a spot where you can fuel up (on gas and food) before heading in.

Tunnel carved through giant sequoia tree in Tuolumne Grove in the middle of the Yosemite forests.
Tunnel through giant sequoia tree in Tuolumne Grove.

Best Campsites Near Groveland

  • Sweetwater Campground
    • A very simple and basic campground just east of Groveland so to the entrance of Yoesmite.

Lodging in Groveland

  • Rush Creek Lodge
    • This lodge provides a modern, yet rustic lodging experience with spacious rooms, a saltwater pool, and a tavern set amidst beautiful natural surroundings.
  • Hotel Charlotte
    • A historic hotel with a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, offering uniquely decorated rooms and easy access to local dining and Yosemite attractions.
  • Rush Creek Lodge
    • Located near the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite, Rush Creek Lodge is relatively close to Hetch Hetchy. It offers a variety of accommodations and amenities, including a restaurant, spa, and pool.

👉 More Accommodation Near Groveland

6. Hetch Hetchy Area

For those seeking a quieter Yosemite experience, the Hetch Hetchy area offers stunning reservoir views, hikes, and waterfalls away from the crowds.

There’s really not much out here in terms of accommodation, but Hetch Hetchy is stunning and well worth a visit. While you’ll be a bit removed, it’s nice and quiet out here.

The huge lake of Hetch Hetchy reservoir surrounded by mountains on a sunny day.
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

Best Campsites Near Hetch Hetchy

  • Dimond O Campground
    • Located close to the Hetch Hecthy Entrance and the Big Oak Flat Entrance this is great campground in a lovely pine forest.

Lodging Near Hetch Hetchy

  • Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite
    • This lodge is a few minute drive from the Hetch Hetchy entrance and offers a range of accommodation options from cabins to luxury tents. It’s in the woods, providing a serene setting with amenities like a restaurant, bar, and pool, making it a great retreat after a day of exploring Yosemite.

7. Yosemite West—Area Near Glacier Point Road

Not many talk about this area, and I’m not sure why. It’s not really near one of the entrances, but that’s because it’s better—it’s another area to stay in Yosemite!

There’s a cluster of holiday homes and hotels just outside of Glacier Point Road—a prime area to base yourself.

There is no accommodation down Glacier Point Road, but just at the turn-off, there are a few well-located spots to stay.

Nina posing with her hands in the air at Glacier Point view with Half Dome in the back.
Glacier Point Road.

Lodging Near Glacier Point Road

👉 More Accommodation in Yosemite West

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Yosemite

If you’re here for a few days, it might be worth staying in two separate areas around Yosemite. Staying in The Valley is ideal since you’re in the middle of everything, but if you can’t nab a reservation there, I’d stay around Arch Rock.

The Yosemite West near Glacier Point option I gave you is another excellent location. After that, the next best, in my opinion, would be Big Oak Flat.

The South and Tioga Pass options are a bit removed and are better when you’re on your way in or out of the park.

Check out our other guides to Yosemite:

We hope this helped you plan where to stay in Yosemite!

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *