We've been going to the "Lodge" for many years, most recently in early February, 2012 and find it's location perfect. We pretty much always go in the winter when you can see the park instead of hoards of tourists. It's the time of year when you can hear the water falls instead of screaming children, can be alone in a meadow on the valley floor, and have a picnic area all to yourself. Our son is a tour guide who winds up leading tours that visit the park in the summer and he tells of it taking 1.5 to 2.0 hours just to drive from tunnel view to Yosemite Village (this is a 10 minute drive in the winter). The winter is the peacful time. Virtually no traffic, you can get pictures of meadows and features with no tourists in them and you can find plenty of parking at all the best stopping spots. However, you can't get to the high country (Tuolomne) or Glacier Point (other than by snow shoe). But the majesty of the valley is laid out before you in all it's glory.
The Lodge is at the trail head that leads to Yosemite Falls (about 1/4 mile walk with only a small hill to walk up right at the end (about 100ft elevation gain). It's also adjacent to the famous Cooks Meadow and is a short walk through the meadow to Sentinel bridge and the picturesque chapel. Yosemite falls can be seen from many parts of the lodge campus as can Half Dome, and many other features. But you can't see the falls from most rooms. This location is about a 15 minute walk from Yosemite Village and the free valley floor shuttle bus stops in front of the lobby. The free shuttle runs about every 15 minutes (maybe more in the summer). You cannot beat this location.
The lodge is a series of 1950's-1960's era two story "motel" style buildings. While quite impressive in the 60's, it's a somewhat dated style now. The beds are comfortable and the rooms are good size. They now have in room phones, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi (all being somewhat recent additions). It also seems that they are in the process of fixing up the rooms, one by one but it's not clear if this is an actual updating or just a quick paint job.
To be honest, these room take a beating. They are filled virtually 365 days a year and during much of the year contain families with children who can be quite rough on the decor and the rooms show this wear and tear. Our room looked like it had been recently painted but not with much care. I suppose they only take a room out of service for 1 day to do the paint job and as such must do it quickly. For example, the switch plates had paint on them, and the caulking around the base of the bathtub was not applied with care. Speed over Quality.
However, it is in the ideal portion of the park, and for the most part you should not be hanging around in your room when in a place like Yosemite.
In the winter, food is offered in a food court cafeteria, an upscale restaurant and to some extent in the Bar. This year we took all our breakfasts and dinners in the cafeteria. The food there was OK. Nothing to write home about but served the purpose. In prior years we've taken a meal in the upscale restaurant which was quite good but waaaay expensive. In one year, when the Superbowl was being played, we ate in the bar (at that time the only place with TV's) which was typical bar food fare. The bar is quite nice with a big fireplace in the middle, TV's all around and big picture windows.
If you join the Yosemite Conservancy at the $25 donation level or higher you get 15% off various things in Yosemite. You also get a coupon book with one time disounts one of which (at least this year) is 20% off rooms at the lodge (off peak, mid week). For our room we saved $26.20 per night.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Yosemite Valley Lodge is a favorite choice for families and large groups. Its close proximity to Yosemite Falls makes it the perfect base camp for exploring Yosemite National Park. Its glass and wood architecture work in unity with the surroundings and the ample windows allow in the bright mountain sunshine while providing remarkable views. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Yosemite Lodge At The Falls
- Yosemite Hotel National Park
- Yosemite Lodge Falls
- Yosemite Ca
- Yosemite View Lodge
- Yosemite Hotel At The Falls
- Lodge Reservation Yosemite
- Lodge Yosemite
- Yosemite Lodge Hotel
- Yosemite Falls Lodge