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“I am not a camper but..”

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Tuolumne Meadows Lodge
Reviewed June 23, 2012

We stayed in a tent cabin 4 nights, June 16 - 20. We made our reservation in January, but I learned from other guests that reservations become available and it pays to check back on the site after encountering a “no vacancy” reply. I am not a camper, but I love day hiking because I can have a shower, a clean bed after a long day and a barrier from bugs that bite. Staying here offers breathtaking hikes without having to drive to a trailhead. To be sure, I will be returning to explore more trails! A few suggestions when you go: take at least 2 lanterns to your tent, a small rug for your feet to land on when you get up during the night or first thing in the morning because that concrete floor is really cold! I used my yoga mat. I brought my Uggs to wear for the chilly evenings and mornings. It was in the 30's at night and 60-70's during the day. A flashlight or headlamp is a must for getting around during the night. I saw one guest toting a broom, which would be handy to sweep out the stuff that comes in on your boots after a hike. A hanging toiletry kit is handy for taking into the shower stalls since there is not much room to put your necessities. Take extra moisturizer since the air is dry. The showers and toilets were well maintained and clean. We brought a cooler with our breakfast and lunch foods (yogurt, fruit (dried & fresh), granola, cheese & crackers, jerky, nuts, sparkling water and wine & chocolate for the evening). A large cooler with wheels is easy for moving in and out of the "bear box" daily. It also keeps the ice, your food & drink chilled. There are spigots on the property for filling your hydration packs and water bottles for your hikes. The water tastes great! They even provide a place in the office area where guests can charge their phones. The homemade pies and cobblers at dinner were served warm and were delicious! The never-ending salad huge bowl with vinaigrette dressing was fresh. The hamburger and veggie burgers are tasty served on a fresh ciabatta. Remember to make reservations for dinner.

Room Tip: Tent 31 was just the right distance from the parking lot and bathrooms. There were 4 twin beds and a...
  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank AbelsNona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 12, 2012

Tuolumne meadows is incredible, but we likely won't stay here again.
The tent cabins are just OK, but the beds are terrible. Great place for a horrible night's sleep.
The beds are so short you can never straighten your legs and they sag terribly if you get a double. They are a mattress on a wire mesh. It is better to put the bed on the floor, but the floors are not that clean.
Food at the lodge is OK at best. Still, it is the only hot meal around.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Michael E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2012

I travelled with my wife and 2 daughters, ages 11 and 8. We arrived on June 5, which is about 2 weeks earlier than they typically open. The night before they had a freak snow storm and got several inches...it was quite cold. Tioga Pass was closed for a while. Always check road conditions before you leave...even if it is supposed to be "summer".

Tuolumne Meadows is located at the north eastern edge of the park. There are lots of day hikes that are "family friendly". We took a day trip down to the Valley Floor to see Half Dome and the falls. It took about an hour to drive there. We also took a trip to Mono Lake...another hour drive.

We stayed in cabin 57, on the far side of the site. It was a great, secluded location, right near the river. I think tent numbers 56, 57 and 58 are the best in the site. There are only 69 tent cabins total so nothing is too far of a walk. Our tent cabin was clean and included 4 single beds with sheets, a pillow, a wool blanket and a comforter. The wood stove heated the space well...as long as it was fed all night long (wood is provided at no cost). We brought our sleeping bags and were glad we did. We sandwiched our bags between the wool blanket and comforter and stayed warm...otherwise we would have frozen. Bring unscented toiletries so you don't have to travel to the bear boxes each time you want to use them...you can keep nothing scented in your tent.

There is no cooking inside or outside your tent, so you either eat from your ice chest which must be kept in the bear boxes in the parking lot or you eat in the lodge. The food was good but expensive. Dinner entrees ranged from $10 to $28. Breakfast was $13.75 for 2 eggs, 2 sausages or bacon, some French toast or pancakes, fruit and juice. We chose to split 2 breakfasts between the four of us, which was enough. Box lunches are overpriced and not very good. For lunch one afternoon we drove outside the park to the Whoa Nellie Deli which overlooks Mono Lake on Hwy 395. The food was great and reasonably priced. The food was also much less pricey in Currey Village: a huge, 2-scoop cone of ice cream was only $3.00.

Bear box food ideas: bagels, cream cheese, cereal, milk, sandwich stuff, peanut butter n jelly, hummus n veggies, cut up and bagged fruit, dried fruit, other snack foods. Lots of water. Bring in ice chest or cold bag. It should keep unless it gets real hot since nights are cold.

Tuolumne Meadows is a nice hybrid of tent camping and a cabin in the woods. It's a little pricey, but you're at 8,775 feet elevation, so it makes sense that the remote location would make things more expensive. We will certainly be back again some day, but will be better prepared.

  • Stayed: June 2012
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5  Thank SycamoreJim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2011

Let me say this: Tuolumne Meadows is, hands down, the best part of Yosemite. If you like hiking, tuolumne meadows has trails that are a dream come true! Staying at the lodge (tent cabins) gives you unparalleled access to the highcountry. Cathedral lakes, cloud's rest, gaylor lakes, and the meadows themselves are just some of the places that we were able to explore. The tent cabins are basic: we had a full bed and two other single beds, a wood stove, candle, and a small table. There are blankets but it gets pretty cold so we brought our sleeping bags and climbed in those for extra comfort. If you make a fire in the morning, it really helps take the chill off! The showers were basic and clean. We were in tent cabin 45, which is the furthest one up the hill, next to the river. The river was roaring (even in early september!) so it was very peaceful falling asleep to that sound at night. #45 was nice because it was secluded, but it was a hike up the hill from the parking area. I would stay away from the ones right next to the bathroom (they are very cramped together). One thing to know is that the bear boxes are down in the parking lot, not next to the tent cabin. So you've got to keep all your toiletries / food in there. It was like one of those math puzzles to see what the fewest number of trips were that we could take between the tent cabin, bear box, bathroom / shower area, and car. Also, it's dark in the parking / bear box area so if you arrive at night, make sure you have your flashlight / lantern handy! We saw many people who had just arrived struggling in the dark. If you know this ahead of time and are mentally prepared for it, it will make it easier and more relaxing. The staff was very helpful. We would definitely stay here again.

Room Tip: Avoid tent cabins right next to the bathroom - they are very cramped together. Try for one near the...
  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank NYHonduran
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2011

Read prior reviews and you will know what you will be getting into. Because it is Yosemite, because there is absolutely no competition, because everything still books up a year in advance, you have little choice. I like the idea of "tents" for sleeping quarters and have done so in numerous places, sometimes paying dearly but loving it. Here at Tuolumne, tents are old, doors and "window flaps" barely work, the "beds" are cheap metal cots with musty bedding that they did not even change during our stay. One small communal shower/bathroom shared by 100 people leaves much to be desired. The only place to eat, as noted in prior reviews, is of poor quality and overpriced, but the workers were mostly nice and helpful. Not worth $150/night for two, but little choice.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank bhoppy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 31, 2011

After all, it's the only game in town.

Drawbacks

1. It's overpriced - but this is Yosemite, so all the lodging is overpriced.

2. They're canvas tents and they're right next to each other, so if someone nearby slams his screen door at 5:45am and you're not a deep sleeper - well, you'll also be awake at 5:45. On the plus side, I got to enjoy a lovely sunrise.

3. The bear lockers are over by the parking lot so you've got a walk to reach them. You don't get your own locker and it's first come, first served - so good luck finding space for your cooler if you arrive later. The bear lockers also require two hands to open.

4. The last part of the road to the lodge is only one lane wide. Which isn't necessarily a drawback, but I wanted to warn you to be careful as some drivers don't slow down (they're probably the same people who slam the screen door at 5:45 am) and there are limited areas to pull over.

5. There's 69 cabins and only four toilets and one of the days I was there, one of the toilets wasn't working and the hatch to the door of another one broke - when I opened the door, it almost collapsed on me. So there were only two toilets available for quite a few women. In all fairness, however, someone was fixing the door when I came back at 8am the next morning.

I recently wrote a review for the cabins at Lassen Volcanic National Park. After staying here, I feel like I should go back and give the Lassen cabins another star. They're much nicer and cost less. But then Lassen isn't remotely as popular as is Yosemite.

Pros.

1. Location

2. Location

3. Location - not only is it the only place to stay in Tuolumne Meadows if you don't want to camp, but the tents are near some cascades. I just loved falling asleep to the sound of the water.

4. The lodge's employees were very nice.

5. The bed was comfortable. Blankets and sheets were clean, comfy, and kept me warm enough even though it got down into the 30s at night.

This section of Yosemite is absolutely gorgeous. And even on the weekend, it was pretty uncrowded during the mornings. While there were more people around in the afternoons, it didn't remotely approach anywhere near the crowds that you have to endure in the valley. While I wasn't particularly impressed with Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, I was extremely impressed with this section of Yosemite and hope to spend a lot more time here. So unless I buy some camping equipment, I'll probably be back soon. Maybe I'll bring ear plugs for the mornings.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled solo
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3  Thank jaimexplorer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 30, 2011

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge isn't the easiest place to stay if you're used to conventional lodges or even cabins. It's not really a lodge at all, but a collection of tents. However, even though the parking lot is right next door, staying here is peaceful in a way that conventional accommodations can't match. I used to love camping but haven't done it in years, and this place brings back some of that feeling.

To start with, Tuolumne Meadows is not like Yosemite Valley at all, in terms of crowding and the general human environment. There are far fewer people, and the atmosphere is less tense and fast-paced. Not as many spectacular highlights, but a beautiful place with great views.

Our tent had four twin beds with mattresses, and in the middle was a wood-burning stove and a table. Because of the size and arrangement, it would have been hard to combine two twins for a double. Kindling, fire-starters, matches, candles and a good set of towels were provided. We slept in our sleeping bags on top of the beds, but the sheets seemed to be clean.

The lodge serves meals in a single dining room, where you need to make reservations for dinner and sign in to be seated for breakfast. The food is not included in the room (tent) rate, and it is not cheap. However, the dishes we had ranged from decent to excellent. Diners are seated one table at a time, and some dishes such as salad and rolls are shared. This makes it a bit of a group dinner with people you've never met before, and there was lively conversation during all the meals we enjoyed here. There's a generally friendly atmosphere around the camp. The nights are very quiet.

The shared restroom has good plumbing and hot water, but it's nothing fancy. There are windows near the top of the peaked roof that are open to the air, so expect a draft. There's a private entry area with each shower (two curtains) but the floor gets very wet.

The biggest issue for me was the logistics: You have to put all your food and toiletries in a bear lockers next to the parking lot. They're not locked, and they're shared by the rest of the people at the lodge. Thus, your toothpaste, lip balm, etc. are up to 100 yards away from the place where you sleep. Plus, the tents don't lock from either the inside or the outside. You can latch the door from the inside and there's a place to put on your own padlock from the outside. But cameras and any other valuables have to stay with you or go in your car. And you need a flashlight to get around at night.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Skihist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Address: Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Location: United States > California > Yosemite National Park
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Yosemite National Park
Number of rooms: 69
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Cabins of Tuolumne Meadows are located 60 miles from Yosemite Valley at over 8,700 feet above sea level. Here, you'll find 69 canvas-tent cabins that are available from mid-June to mid-September, conditions permitting. Situated next to a picturesque meadow, it's the perfect place to settle in after hiking in Yosemite-or before embarking on an extended backpacking trip. You'll find the Cabins of Tuolumne Meadows on Tioga Road, near the Park's eastern entrance on Highway 120 East. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tuolumne Meadows Hotel Yosemite National Park

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