Yosemite Lodging Problems - Curry Village tents or outside park or ??

misse336

Mouseketeer
Joined
Apr 24, 2014
So how important is it to stay inside the park at Yosemite? Or have you stayed inside one of the canvas tents in Curry Village?

When I put in several different dates in June I was unable to get a hotel room for my family. So either I'm too late trying to get hotels (thought I heard the hotels inside the park were released 6-8 months in advance but must be wrong) or they don't have hotel rooms for a family of 5 inside the park. I'd prefer not to get two hotel rooms if at all possible and I don't see any suites.

That leaves me with either staying outside the park or staying in a curry tent. Anyone have experience with either. The fact that there's a bear food locker/safe has me concerned. We aren't a camping family, but I think I read that it takes an hour to drive into the park?

Our dates are somewhat flexible as we haven't booked anything for the trip yet (airlines, other hotels, etc) and are hoping to tour Yosemite, some of the Sequoia Park, SF, etc and possible drive down to see Disney and San Diego. I am overwhelmed with the planning and how large the state is so I'm trying to figure out the best route to see everything with flying in from the east coast so I can move our dates around some if someone has ideas.

Any must see things in Yosemite, how long you needed to tour it or guidebooks you'd recommend are also welcome.
 

cruisehopeful

Wishing I was taking a nap on a ship.
Joined
Oct 25, 2015
I've only visited Yosemite once and I stayed in a timeshare in a nearby Bass Lake. It was a significant drive to park. About 45 minutes to get to the park entrance, then about another 45 minutes to the floor where the main hotel is, food, waterfalls, etc. Even though the timeshare was great, I think I'd only stay inside Yosemite for a future visit.

Oakhurst has some hotels and that is a little closer to the Yosemite entrance. I would consider staying there, but it would entail lots of car time. Yosemite is large. You can visit one part and still have a very long drive to go to another part that you may want to see.

I've known a few people who stay in Curry Village and they love it. I just wouldn't prefer it as I was my toilet in my unit. I do like camping, but wouldn't want to carry/trek in that many supplies. I guess they do have some cabin rooms. If you think you can deal with that, you could always book that now and keep checking for a cancellation to stay in one of the hotels.

I am actually considering a few nights stay next summer and am just now looking where we'd stay if we go there. I don't like a lot of car time.
 

Dr.Mickey

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 19, 1999
Very good questions!

I’ll tell you about our experience if that helps. We took our first family west coast trip (we live on the east coast) this past June. We did 3 days at DL during the low crowd Galaxies Edge reservation period, then 1 day in Sequoia and 3 days in Yosemite. Overall the trip was fantastic, but we were also too late to stay in the valley floor.

At Yosemite, we stayed at Rush Creek Lodge, which is admittedly expensive (but still cheaper than Disney property), and it’s more of a resort with good dining, activities, etc. It was very nice and only 1 mile from the Big Oak Flat entrance. It was a 35-45 min drive to the Valley from there (so half the distance of the previous post). It is a gorgeous drive, even breathtaking. But it seemed long by day three. Especially when our day plan was a hike 45 min beyond the valley.

We loved our time in Yosemite. But here are a couple of important points: We were there mid-week. By Friday parking was difficult (we had a late night and didn’t arrive until after lunch). I say drive in early and you will be great. But go extra early for a weekend.

I’ll be happy to answer any other questions. But don’t let a lack of accommodations in the valley stop you from going. It is truly amazing.
 
  • misse336

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 24, 2014
    Very good questions!

    I’ll tell you about our experience if that helps. We took our first family west coast trip (we live on the east coast) this past June. We did 3 days at DL during the low crowd Galaxies Edge reservation period, then 1 day in Sequoia and 3 days in Yosemite. Overall the trip was fantastic, but we were also too late to stay in the valley floor.

    At Yosemite, we stayed at Rush Creek Lodge, which is admittedly expensive (but still cheaper than Disney property), and it’s more of a resort with good dining, activities, etc. It was very nice and only 1 mile from the Big Oak Flat entrance. It was a 35-45 min drive to the Valley from there (so half the distance of the previous post). It is a gorgeous drive, even breathtaking. But it seemed long by day three. Especially when our day plan was a hike 45 min beyond the valley.

    We loved our time in Yosemite. But here are a couple of important points: We were there mid-week. By Friday parking was difficult (we had a late night and didn’t arrive until after lunch). I say drive in early and you will be great. But go extra early for a weekend.

    I’ll be happy to answer any other questions. But don’t let a lack of accommodations in the valley stop you from going. It is truly amazing.
    Thanks! This is very helpful to me. This trips seems overwhelming because I would like to do what you did and see multiple things and the state is very large. I'd also like to add seeing some redwoods (although probably not at the redwood state park since that's too far north), SF and San Diego to the trip as I don't think we will be back since we are also from the east coast. I can stay inside the park but only in tents without bathrooms.

    Did you feel like three days was enough time? I find it difficult to budget how much time we will need to see things inside the park. I'd like to do some shorter hikes, see some of the waterfalls, Mariposa Grove, rock formations and general scenery.

    Did you feel like you were able to see most things in DL in 3 days and the Sequoias in 1 day?

    Logistically, did you fly into/out of two different airports and if so, was it drastically more expensive to rent a car and not take it back to where you rented it from? I've read reports that it was a ton more expensive to pick up and drop off a rental at different locations.
     

    Dr.Mickey

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 1999
    Thanks! This is very helpful to me. This trips seems overwhelming because I would like to do what you did and see multiple things and the state is very large. I'd also like to add seeing some redwoods (although probably not at the redwood state park since that's too far north), SF and San Diego to the trip as I don't think we will be back since we are also from the east coast. I can stay inside the park but only in tents without bathrooms.

    Did you feel like three days was enough time? I find it difficult to budget how much time we will need to see things inside the park. I'd like to do some shorter hikes, see some of the waterfalls, Mariposa Grove, rock formations and general scenery.

    Did you feel like you were able to see most things in DL in 3 days and the Sequoias in 1 day?

    Logistically, did you fly into/out of two different airports and if so, was it drastically more expensive to rent a car and not take it back to where you rented it from? I've read reports that it was a ton more expensive to pick up and drop off a rental at different locations.
    If you don't mind, I'll give you a full rundown of our trip. But first, a few answers.

    We flew into John Wayne Airport with DL as our first part of the trip. We flew out of Fresno. I found the car rental to be not that much more expensive - but I was patient and I stalked it for a while online. And I always used the car rental direct website.

    For Yosemite, 3 days is "enough" in the same way that 3 days is enough at DL. You will see a lot and have a really good feel for the place, but you will also have pages of a guidebook left unexplored. You are helped by the fact that your plans are shorter hikes, the grove, waterfalls and just sight-seeing. That was our priority as well (except for the grove since we had just been to Sequoia), and it was just right for our family. Our "big" hike was Sentinel Dome, which is only a 2.5 mile round trip. You should check out yosemitehikes.com for great reviews and good ideas. But be warned everything takes a little longer than it looks on a map.

    So, after three awesome days at DL (we are now hooked on DL, but will still probably see WDW more often because we are only 500 miles away), we had a late breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen at DLH and then drove to Three Rivers about 3 miles from Sequoia. We rented a VRBO and had a great night's stay. The next morning, we drove up the mountain (from dry, hot scrub-oaks to the cool forest of Giants in about an hour) to see the General Sherman Tree and to walk the forest. It was so peaceful and beautiful. We planned to climb Moro Rock, but we were a little late leaving the house, and we needed to drive on to Yosemite. This was my BIGGEST MISTAKE. We only had a half day in Sequoia, and the drive up to the western entrance of Yosemite that night was a killer. I wish we had stayed a whole day in Sequoia and spent the night again in Three Rivers before driving on to Yosemite. But we made it somehow.

    We checked in at 1am at Rush Creek Lodge, so we slept in on our first Yosemite day. We had lunch at the resort and then drove in to the valley. Thank heavens it was a less-crowded week day. Traffic was easy and there was easy parking. We spent that day wandering Cook's Meadow, seeing Tunnel View and Bridelvail Falls. The weather was perfect (60s and breezy), and the sun setting in the valley was so awesome with the color changes in the granite walls. Wow. Your plan to visit in June is ideal!

    Day 2 of Yosemite, we drove past the valley to the road to Glacier Point. On the way, we hiked Sentinel Dome (amazing and moderately easy hike) and then spent an hour or so at Glacier Point. To give you a feel for how to plan your days...that simple 2 part plan took the whole day. So, be careful about planning too much. Even so, it was amazing.

    Day 3 of Yosemite, we spent the day in the valley again. We had intended to go on the Tioga Road to see some of the alpine lakes, but apparently, this past winter was the largest snow-pack on record. We were there the last week of June, and the road was not open yet. So on our last day, we watched rock climbers on El Capitan with binoculars, we walked another meadow, and we finally walked the paved path to Yosemite Falls. Yes, it is a more crowded walk, but it is stunning to stand at the bottom of those falls. Wow.

    On our drive to Fresno the next day, it was a Saturday. We had to leave very early for our flight (in the car by 5:45am). Our shortest route was back through the valley, and by 7am, there was a steady stream of cars heading in as we were heading out. So, if you do a weekend, be ready to arrive early.

    My final thoughts: Work on a realistic itinerary for Yosemite, with a couple of things per day, but not 5 or 6. Don't worry too much about staying off site, especially if you can get a place like Rush Creek that is very close to an entrance. Be flexible about your itinerary. The whole place is absolutely amazing, so if you don't get to see one of your options, your backup plan will still be better than a day somewhere else. And finally, don't try to see Sequoia AND DRIVE TO YOSEMITE on the same day. Sigh. Live and learn.

    Have fun planning! I'll try to post some pictures to your thread when I'm not at work.
     

    Dr.Mickey

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 1999
    Thanks! This is very helpful to me. This trips seems overwhelming because I would like to do what you did and see multiple things and the state is very large. I'd also like to add seeing some redwoods (although probably not at the redwood state park since that's too far north), SF and San Diego to the trip as I don't think we will be back since we are also from the east coast. I can stay inside the park but only in tents without bathrooms.

    Did you feel like three days was enough time? I find it difficult to budget how much time we will need to see things inside the park. I'd like to do some shorter hikes, see some of the waterfalls, Mariposa Grove, rock formations and general scenery.

    Did you feel like you were able to see most things in DL in 3 days and the Sequoias in 1 day?

    Logistically, did you fly into/out of two different airports and if so, was it drastically more expensive to rent a car and not take it back to where you rented it from? I've read reports that it was a ton more expensive to pick up and drop off a rental at different locations.
    Oh, I just saw your question about doing 3 days was about DL, not Yosemite. Yes, 3 days was good. But we liked it so much we could come back for 5 and not get bored. For a combination trip like you are planning, I think 3 would be ideal. Long enough to really enjoy and not be rushed, but not long enough to keep you from doing the other cool things you have planned. One nice thing about Maxpass (or even regular FP), is that you will certainly get more in than with WDW FP+. It makes me sad to think about going back to pre-booking months in advance.
     

    Lumpy1106

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2010
    So how important is it to stay inside the park at Yosemite? Or have you stayed inside one of the canvas tents in Curry Village?

    When I put in several different dates in June I was unable to get a hotel room for my family. So either I'm too late trying to get hotels (thought I heard the hotels inside the park were released 6-8 months in advance but must be wrong) or they don't have hotel rooms for a family of 5 inside the park. I'd prefer not to get two hotel rooms if at all possible and I don't see any suites.

    That leaves me with either staying outside the park or staying in a curry tent. Anyone have experience with either. The fact that there's a bear food locker/safe has me concerned. We aren't a camping family, but I think I read that it takes an hour to drive into the park?

    Our dates are somewhat flexible as we haven't booked anything for the trip yet (airlines, other hotels, etc) and are hoping to tour Yosemite, some of the Sequoia Park, SF, etc and possible drive down to see Disney and San Diego. I am overwhelmed with the planning and how large the state is so I'm trying to figure out the best route to see everything with flying in from the east coast so I can move our dates around some if someone has ideas.

    Any must see things in Yosemite, how long you needed to tour it or guidebooks you'd recommend are also welcome.
    The drive into the park is long and windy so bring dramamine. For me personally the best thing about visiting Yosemite is once you get there you can (and SHOULD) park the car and use the buses to get around. Waking up in the valley is a not-to-be-missed experience, so I would definitely do the Curry camp. Don't worry about the bears! The bear boxes are not that big of a hassle and the bears know to leave people alone. The bigger problem is actually your car - do not leave ANYTHING the bear wants in the car or the bears can and will destroy the car to get to it.
     
  • Neon Cactus

    Old Run Disney Addict
    Joined
    Feb 10, 2016
    It's been about 20 years since I've been to Yosemite, but when I was young, we went every Memorial Day and stayed in the Camp Curry tents almost every time. I would definitely stay there over staying outside the park. It is a long drive to get into the park every day, so just getting there and staying there on the valley floor with the scenery is amazing. I'm not sure what they've added since I last stayed there, but it's very basic. The bathrooms were plentiful enough in the area. The bear boxes aren't a big deal, just read up on the tips of storing food and you'll be fine. My funniest memory with wildlife was we were walking to our tent and some guy had left his tent door open and was laying down on his bed napping, and a raccoon walked in there and jumped up on the bed. We heard this shout of "Hey!" and a raccoon bolting out of the tent.

    3 days will likely be enough, but it's one of those places where you could easily spend longer. Yosemite Falls is a good hike and another popular one is Nevada Falls and you can take the Mist Trail up the side of Vernal Falls. Now you have me wanting to go back!
     

    mel2014

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 26, 2014
    I highly recommend the rentals in Yosemite West, which is an enclave of private homes and condos that are inside the park and only a short distance to the valley, Glacier Point road and the redwood groves near Wawona. It's really an ideal location and the homes are much better value than the valley lodging and can accommodate larger families.


     

    Purrkins

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 16, 2012
    Yosemite is one of those places you can backpack in for weeks or stay for three days and be content.

    I would not be worried about the bears. It's well "policed" but please do adhere to the policy and put anything edible or scented (including candy and toothpaste, deodorant and lotions in the bear locker).

    I like Curry Village. It puts you in the valley. The tents are nice (I'm a camper/backpacker) and the entire experience is "civilized"

    Any hotel outside of the valley is going to add 30-90 minutes drive time to the valley. Yosemite can sometimes feel like a parking lot. Still, it's a wonderful place to visit and big enough you can lose the crowds on a hike if you choose.
     

    llane

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 9, 2002
    Have you tried calling reservations? NP lodges have allowed our 3 kids in our room, but I wasn’t allowed to book it on line.
     
  • Butterfly123

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2011
    We always stay right outside of Yosemite at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal. it’s just a short drive into the park, about 13 miles.
     

    McKelly

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 22, 2004
    My guess is you are too late. We went this past July and we had a room that technically slept five, even though there were only four of us. It had a queen and bunks with a double on the bottom and a single on top.
    We spent three days in the park at Yosemite Valley Lodge. We were inside the park and felt that three days was sufficient.
    Day One: Drove over Tioga Road, short hike in Toulumne Meadows, climbed Pothole Dome, stopped at Tenaya Lake for lunch and then Olmstead Point. That night we walked to Yosemite Falls and then to the Village area - which was a bust because the Visitor Center and museums close at 5pm! In the height of the summer! That surprised us. Then we went swimming in the ICE COLD pool!
    Day Two: We walked to Bridalveil Falls and then halfway back where we grabbed a bus back to the lodge. Ate lunch at Awahnee and then rafted down the Merced River. Walked back over Swinging Bridge to our hotel. Stopped to watch some bears on the way and took a dip in the river.
    Day Three: Took a bus up to Glacier Point. Hiked down the Panoramic Trail to the Mist Trail and then took that trail down.
    As we headed out of the park the last day it was our plan to stop at Mariposa Grove. We did, but because our legs were screaming from the day before's hike, we only walked about a half mile into the grove and then decided to go back. I wish we could have gone further in. But seriously, even my in-shape teenagers could barely walk! Who knew downhill would be so bad???
    Then we headed to Disneyland for a few days.
    I felt that we saw a good part of the park in three days. But we started early because we were IN the park. Traffic is bad in the summer. Parking was near impossible to find if we moved our car. That is why we just walked to as many places as we could.
     

    melk

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2000
    We did a CA trip, beginning in LA, Disneyland, to Sequoia, on to Yosemite and then ending in SF. I too was unable to book where we wanted on the valley floor but did end up renting a Curry tent for two nights which I was a little apprehensive about. I would check often and eventually the Awahnee opened and I grabbed it for one night. It was expensive but we figured by doing one night in the tent, next night at the Awahnee it evened out.

    There was no need for my apprehension for Curry village. It was perfectly fine and we look back now with great memories of it. For the record we never saw a bear at Yosemite, which they do warn you about sufficiently. But we did see one in Sequoia which is another story, again great memories.

    Feel free to ask me any more questions about the tent experience!
     

    misse336

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 24, 2014
    We did a CA trip, beginning in LA, Disneyland, to Sequoia, on to Yosemite and then ending in SF. I too was unable to book where we wanted on the valley floor but did end up renting a Curry tent for two nights which I was a little apprehensive about. I would check often and eventually the Awahnee opened and I grabbed it for one night. It was expensive but we figured by doing one night in the tent, next night at the Awahnee it evened out.

    There was no need for my apprehension for Curry village. It was perfectly fine and we look back now with great memories of it. For the record we never saw a bear at Yosemite, which they do warn you about sufficiently. But we did see one in Sequoia which is another story, again great memories.

    Feel free to ask me any more questions about the tent experience!
    That's very close to our trip plan. I'd love to hear your thoughts/tips from your trip. Sent you a conversation starter if you have a little time to reply.
     

    JimMIA

    There's more to life than mice...
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2005
    First of all, websites:
    So how important is it to stay inside the park at Yosemite?
    VERY important. If you are outside the park in June, you are not only going to have a drive to the park, you are going to sit in a long line at the entrance station just to get in.

    We have been to YOSE many times -- most recently June 2017... You NEED to be IN the park if you want to really experience Yosemite.
    Or have you stayed inside one of the canvas tents in Curry Village?
    We stayed in the tent cabins once. They are okay, but be aware that you have to walk to the bathrooms...and it can be a hike depending on where your tent cabin is located. If you are a backpacker, tent cabins are luxury. If you're a hotel person, you want to be in one of the lodges.

    When I put in several different dates in June I was unable to get a hotel room for my family.
    Right. That's normal, but it will not remain that way. YOSE lodge reservations open up one year and a day from arrival -- and they sell out immediately.

    But people's plans change, so it will not always be thus. Forget booking online. CALL them at 888-413-8869, and call every few days until you get what you want.

    You'll get it, but you have to be persistent. Try again and again and again until you get your reservation.

    There are two options IN Yosemite Valley, which is where you want to be -- The Ahwanee Hotel and Yosemite Valley Lodge. The Ahwanee is lux and expensive; Yosemite Valley Lodge is rather rustic, but clean, comfortable, and within easy walking distance to Yosemite Falls. (You can see and HEAR the falls from the parking lot!)

    Last trip we stayed at Yosemite Valley Lodge. Here's the view from our balcony when we first checked into the room -- two stumbling fawns that couldn't have been more than 2 days old!

    455000

    That's a cell phone pic, BTW. No telephoto lens -- I was only about 30 feet from them. Mom was aware I was there and kept a close eye on me.

    So, yeah -- you wanna be IN the park at Yosemite!


    Any must see things in Yosemite, how long you needed to tour it or guidebooks you'd recommend are also welcome.
    Oddly enough, yes there are must-see things! Here's a partial list:

    Four absolute musts -- but you will see three of them anyway, just being in Yosemite Valley, as opposed to being outside or down at Wawona.
    • Yosemite Falls -- right in the epicenter of the Valley, literally across the street from Yosemite Valley Lodge.
    • Half Dome -- must-see is the view from the bridge just down from the Lodge at sunset. It's a couple of miles from the lodge, but there are parking lots right next to the bridge. You can hike to the top of Half Dome, but it's a strenuous overnight trip -- not for amateurs.
    • El Capitan -- you'll see this from the road from both sides of the valley. Be sure to look up on El Cap at night. The little flickering lights 1500 feet up on the face of the cliff are climbers hanging in harnesses to sleep! It's a two-day climb.
    • The valley view from Wawona Tunnel. This is the classic view of Yosemite Valley -- El Cap to the left, Glacier Point, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome to the right. Amazing view.
      • If you come from the South -- be sure and enter the Wawona entrance at the south end of the park. There is an impressive grove of big trees there (Wawona Grove). Then you drive north toward the valley for an uneventful hour (unless you see wildlife) until you come to the tunnel. When you come out of the tunnel, the whole valley suddenly opens up before you and everybody in the car will be screaming for you to stop. There are parking lots above and below the road, so be sure to stop there.
      • If you are coming from San Francisco and can afford the time, take a detour and go to the Wawona entrance, just north of Oakhurst, CA. See the trees, drive to the tunnel, and amaze your family. It's about an hour detour, but well worth it, and you're going to want to see the big trees anyway.
    Other cool things to do:
    • Bridalveil Falls -- easy hike from a parking lot nearby -- beautiful waterfall that will be full of snowmelt in June
    • Glacier Point -- majestic overlook which gives views of several waterfalls you can't see from the valley (Vernal and Nevada Falls)
    • Mist Trail -- moderate hike that starts just past Curry Village and goes up to Vernal Falls. The latter part of the hike is basically a staircase straight up, and is pretty taxing unless you're a real hiker. You hike alongside the waterfall, and you will get soaked. One caution: the trail is narrow, slippery, and crowded. Not everyone is paying attention, and if you fall, you're dead. There was a hiker killed there the day before we climbed it last, and a few years ago three people went over the falls to their death. So be very careful. This is a beautiful hike that has been made unpleasant and dangerous by overcrowding. NPS needs to severely limit the traffic on the upper part of Mist Trail.
    • Tioga Pass Road/Tuolume Meadows -- this is one of the best kept secrets of Yosemite. The fact is that most of Yosemite is alpine country -- very high mountains way above the crowded Valley below. The alpine country is beautiful, and you'll almost have it to yourself. However, when we last visited in June, the road was closed because of heavy snowpack. The pack was so dense, they were dynamiting it, and I don't think they ever opened it that summer.
    KEEP CALLING; get your reservation! And have a great trip!
     
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