Yosemite Valley Lodge rooms, views, building layouts, reservations tips, with maps

Yosemite Valley Lodge, with 245 units in 15 buildings,
is the second largest hotel complex in Yosemite National Park.

Almost all of the rooms have either a balcony or a patio.

At the Lodge there are no rooms with full, unobstructed views of Yosemite Falls,
(and a few rooms have no view at all)

but in many areas, you can step outside for a view,

and can walk a relatively short, mostly flat path to complete views of lower, middle and upper Yosemite fall and a picnic area with views

or a longer path to a bridge over the river with full view of Yosemite Falls, a picnic area and a swimming area.

Here is a map of the services at the Lodge, courtesy of the Park Service:

simple map

Note that the free Yosemite Valley shuttle bus (Valleywide Shuttle only), no longer has a stop right across the inner hotel road from the hotel front desk / office, but the current stop (#7) is farther down towards the Yosemite Falls day-use parking lot, near the Laurel Building.

Guests at the Yosemite Lodge in buildings Aspen, Dogwood, Tamarack, Elderberry, Cottonwood, Willow and Manzanita might find that getting off at free Yosemite shuttle stop 6 (Yosemite Falls) is a shorter, and more scenic walk back to their room than using the Lodge stop #7.
Laurel, Juniper and Hemlock are closer to stop 7.

The map above is also in the center of the official Yosemite Lodge (formerly known as the Lodge at Yosemite Falls) Hotel Map.


Having a copy of the map open on another tab on your computer (or printing a copy) while you read through this can help.

When you look up buildings on the map you can see which are closer to, or right next to
the swimming pool, restaurants, or are a longer walk from parking with your luggage.

Ice Machines are marked on the map, in the corners of the Hemlock, Maple, Cottonwood and Aspen buildings
and (closed in the winter) along the walkway from Cedar to the gift shop.

Also noted on the map are public restrooms at the inside back of the Base Camp Eatery, adjacent to the Mountain Room Restaurant and in the northern end of the Lobby Building.

Below is a photo of the front desk in the Front Office / Lobby building where you check in to get your room(s). Restrooms and a microwave usually available for guest use are at the far end of the right hand side hallway from the Front Desk.
front desk at hotel


You can find a larger, more readable copy of the map of Yosemite valley below at:

simple map

Yosemite Valley Lodge is located on Northside Drive ,
on the upper part of the mostly-one-way loop road through Yosemite valley.

Northside Drive runs almost the length of Yosemite Valley as a one-way road, from east to west, as outlined in red on the map below:
simple map



simple map

Where the red colored X is on the map above, there was once a driveway turning from Northside drive to the left into the Lodge.

As of May 2022, that driveway has been closed, and Northside Drive is no longer two-way going past the Lodge (as in the NPS mini-map below)

simple map

There are other roadways, one of them new in 2023, from Northside Drive into the Lodge complex.

As you approach the Lodge on Northside drive,
after you pass the Yosemite Falls shuttle bus stop #6 on your right,
and after you drive over the Yosemite Creek Bridge,

sign says watch for stopped or slowing vehicles next 400 feet

before you see any Lodge buildings, there is a sign on the left pointing to the Lodge and a driveway from the left hand lane to the left into west end of the property parking lots.

cars in a row of road

Because this Lodge entrance road / driveway goes into a one way, one lane parking lot road,
the traffic gets backed up in the parking lot and can can get backed up on to Northside Drive.

(Occasionally the traffic in the lot gets really backed-up when someone coming in sees what looks like someone in a parking space getting ready to leave, then stops and puts on their flashers – waiting for the vehicle in the parking space to make room for them AND blocking all others from driving through the parking lot.)

You should anticipate people suddenly trying to change from the Northside Drive right hand lane to the left hand lane, and even cutting quite close to other vehicles.

The letter D on the upper right of the map below, with Northside Drive at the top of the map,
shows where the photo above of vehicles entering this driveway was taken.

simple map

The letters BP near the center of the map above
show where this photo of the now blocked off road between the parking lots was taken from:

road blocked off with waterfall beyond

Instead of using this first entrance / driveway off Northside Drive, for a usually faster route,
stay in the right hand lane until you are past this backup,
then merge over into the left hand lane and go past most of the Lodge buildings.

Look for an entrance on the left beyond the hotel buildings seen from the road and then turn left into the complex
or if you miss that entrance road you can turn left into the Yosemite Falls day use parking lot at the near end of it, or the far end.

stones forming a wall

There is a covered (roofed) area outside at the end of the registration desk / lobby
(Front Office & Tour Desk on some maps)
that is used for tour buses and not for people to drive under at check-in
(even if it is reeeally raining).

At the center of the https://www.travelyosemite.com/media/825705/yosemite_valley_lodge_2023_notrim.pdf official Lodge map
note the row of 15 minute parking spaces just below the brown box (labeled “Lobby”)
that is parking reserved for people checking in.

Here is the lobby building and covered driveway (Porte Cochère):

covered driveway at hotel entrance

The winter free bus to the ski resort / ranger snow shoe walk leaves (most years) from Curry Village, then from a covered bus stop adjacent to the garage in Yosemite Village, shortly after from the the Ahwahnee Hotel and the last pick up is from the Yosemite Lodge Porte Cochère at the front desk (covered driveway in front of the hotel) 8:30 and 11 a.m.

here is the skiers bus taking on passengers under the Porte Cochère (covered driveway):

bus with a line of people


PARKING: At the Yosemite Lodge there are some free UN-assigned parking spaces near or next to most buildings, but these UN-assigned parking spaces might be occupied by someone else when you arrive, so arriving early in the day to get a parking space, then walk, bike or use the free shuttle bus to sightsee, so you can keep your parking space.

Expect slippery ice around each parking space edge after snowfall, as those parts of the parking lots are not plowed:

parking lot spaces with ice at their edges

The park service notes that Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are located only in Yosemite Valley at:
“The Ahwahnee (one Tesla and one level 1)
You do not need to be a guest at the hotel to charge your vehicle, however, you must move your vehicle from the space once it is finished charging
Village Store (Yosemite Village) (one level 2)
Yosemite Valley Lodge (eight level 2)
Located by Alder building and between Juniper and Laurel buildings.”

And the hotel notes that “electric vehicle charger spots are for EV vehicles only.” And “There are no reservations available for the electric vehicle chargers. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis.”

sign says charging station electric car parking only while charging


carved wood ceiling beam

There are five basic designs of buildings,
with different room layouts, at Yosemite Lodge.

Seven two-story buildings have one row of rooms with outside entrances / staircases on one side of the building. Each room has either a downstairs patio or upstairs balcony on the other side of the building.

Three of these buildings have their entry side facing parking lots and their back side with patios in a row facing towards a hiking and bike path. (Laurel, Juniper and Alder).

Open or print the Yosemite Valley Lodge map, take a look at the Laurel, Juniper and Alder buildings
floor plan

Here, a view of the entrances side (with outside staircases) and one end (with a balcony and patio below it) of the Juniper Building:

building in snow

Google maps photo (you can zoom in to enlarge) looking across a parking lot towards the parking lot side of Juniper:


and across the parking lot looking toward Alder Building


The four others (of the seven two-story buildings) are along Northside Drive on the northern half of the Yosemite Lodge property (Azalea, Manzanita, Elderberry and Willow).

Below is a link to a Google maps photo you can turn 360 degrees taken between the Cottonwood and Manzanita Buildings showing Manzanita patios and balconies at the rear of Manzanita (the same setup of balconies and patios as the other two-story buildings with one row of rooms with outside entrances, all with either downstairs patios or upstairs balconies: Willow, Aspen, Laurel, Juniper and Alder).



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There are two one-story buildings
with outside entrances on one side of the building, and downstairs patios on the other side, also along Northside Drive (Birch and Cottonwood).


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Two buildings, which are both two story, have an interior hallway / staircases. (Hemlock and Maple).
hallway with two rows of rooms along each side of the interior hallway, each with either downstairs patios or upstairs balconies.
row of balconies and patios on one side of builidng

The main entrances are on each end, (see the interior staircase through the windows on the left below):
building entrance

Open or print the Yosemite Valley Lodge map, and take a look at the Hemlock and Maple buildings.
building floor plan

First floor Maple room 3501 with its patio facing towards the parking lot,
has a view at the entrance in one direction of the privacy fence along the road,
and on the north side of the patio, boilers and the parking lot out past a few trees.

patio looking out to forest with tanks

Next to it, Maple room 3503 also has a view of the fenced in boilers. Each of the rest of the first floor rooms in Maple (3505, 3507, 3509 3533 and 3535) have views from patios out through a few trees to the parking lot. Second floor balconies look more out to trees.

trees and big tankstrees, tanks, and cliffs beyond
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Three two-story buildings (Aspen, Dogwood and Tamarack) are square shaped, with eight rooms each and downstairs patios or upstairs balconies on each side of the square. These have a few of the quietest rooms at the hotel since your balcony or patio is not right next to a neighbor’s patio or balcony.

The Yosemite Valley Lodge map pictures the Aspen, Dogwood and Tamarack Buildings as rectangles, but they are actually squares with four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs:

simple map
and the patios and balconies are each on one side of the building.

simple drawing

Here are the buildings Tamarack, Dogwood and Aspen as seen from the parking lot to the north:

parking lot on foreground, buildings at back

Downstairs rooms have their entrance doors on their patios:
patio with balcony above

Second floor rooms are accessed by a staircase on one side of the building
to an interior landing at the center of the building,

When you look at the lodge map you can see that
each of the the Aspen, Dogwood and Tamarack buildings has rooms

looking towards the parking lot and a few trees,

here, the Aspen Building as seen from the parking lot to the west:

car in foreground, building in back

and other rooms at the back with forest views,

(Trees views (and potentially quietest rooms at the hotel) include:
4104. 4115 & 4124 down and 4109, 4119, 4125 up,
down 4124 & 4123, upstairs 4129 & 4128.)

here an Aspen forest view from in the room and from on the balcony:

view from the room and from the balcony

and others that look towards another building.

Here a balcony room in Aspen Building looking at Dogwood:

looking through window to another building

Here a view towards another section of the parking lot through a few trees from a downstairs patio
(note the patio table at the lower left corner of the photo):
patio view towards parking lot

Dogwood, for example, has rooms that look towards the parking lot with a few trees, (4111, 4112, 4116, 4117) and the back corners look out at trees (4115 upstairs and 4119 downstairs), rooms 4114 down and 4118 up mostly look towards the Tamarack Building.

Google maps photo you can turn 360 degrees of Dogwood, Aspen and Tamarack Buildings at edge of parking lot



If you get a room in one of the Aspen, Dogwood or Tamarack buildings and get a parking space in the lot next to your building, please remember when you are unloading or just go out to the car to get something out of the trunk or overhead storage, that there will be people in vehicles in the one-lane-wide parking lot roadway who are desperate for a parking space, who will stop to see if you are leaving or not. When they do it holds up traffic coming into the Lodge. You could make it a point to turn around frequently as you get things from your car and wave people by who have stopped in the roadway waiting for you to vacate your parking space.

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One two-story building, Cedar, has no balconies or patios.
building with sign that says cedar

A few rooms at the small “L“ shaped end of the Cedar building (see on map) have no view at all or a very poor view.

Downstairs in Cedar 3901 and 3902 have no “view,” except of a fence and the HVAC system at the back of the gift shop, as well as occasional bins of flattened boxes set to go to recycling.

fence and back of a building

There can sometimes be many people going to the bike rentals on the walkway between the fence and the room.

side of building

Upstairs room Cedar 3921 (windows in center of the photo below) has a view of the bike rentals stand
bike rentals area with building behind

(windows of room 3921 in center of the photo below) and the view to the side of the bike rentals, of the pool and storage behind the pool:
pool deck and storage with building behind

and 3923 has a view of the back side of the gift shop building. Downstairs 3903 and 3904 in the “L” shaped section of the Cedar Building have a view of a few trees and the parking lot, but do not have a patio or even good access to the rows of chairs.

Cedar building rooms 3905-3912 have views out their front windows to a parking lot level hallway, with no patios, just a row of chairs and a lot of foot traffic:

row of chairs on exterior hallway

and Cedar is right next to a parking lot, so the downstairs rooms have parking lot views until you step outside and out in the exterior hallway. All upstairs rooms in Cedar (no balconies) have views of the parking lot right next to the building and beyond that to the top of forest trees:

looking out window at parking lot

(And, the parking lot right next to the Cedar building is small enough that you can’t expect to get a parking space right next to your room.)

Below, the back side of the second floor of the Cedar Building with narrow windows facing the swimming pool that give some of the family rooms a partial view of Yosemite falls from the upper bunk of the bunkbed:

and looking up at one of the windows on the wall above the bunkbed:

window above bed


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None of the two story buildings at Yosemite Lodge have elevators.
(Only the Ahwahnee hotel main building has an elevator.)


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A few Yosemite Lodge rooms have views of Yosemite Falls through trees.

falls seen between trees Some think the best views of Yosemite Falls are rooms 4303, 4304, 4323, 4324 in the Willow building

and rooms 4622, 4621 upstairs and 4601, 4602 downstairs in the Azalea building with almost a full view of upper Yosemite Fall, especially if you walk outside of your patio.

waterfall seen through trees

Here is a view from a patio at the north side of the Cottonwood building, with Yosemite fall visible behind tree branches in the upper right hand corner of the photo,
and, closer to the hotel building, traffic on Northside Drive:

waterfall behind tree branches, vehicle on road

Along the back side of Laurel, Juniper, Hemlock, Maple and Alder, some of the rooms have views out to the cliffs of Sentinel Rock, some have mostly a “view” of tree branches, (a Cedar in the photo below) perfect for a feel of being in the woods.


rock wall

Lodging in Yosemite National Park
can be reserved 366 days in advance.

(If you want any hotel room with a private bath in Yosemite in the warmer months, you should be online promptly when reservations for the day you want start.)

When you book a room at Yosemite Lodge,
your choices include Traditional Rooms, Bunk Rooms and Family rooms

(Yosemite Lodge lodging Rates 1985 were $72.73.)

Almost all of the rooms at Yosemite Lodge are some kind of Traditional Room:

Traditional Room – 2 Double Beds
Traditional Room – 1 King Bed
Traditional Room – 1 Queen Bed
Traditional Room – 1 Queen Bed (ADA-Accessible, “Some of our Traditional Rooms are set up to be accessibility compliant, which include one queen bed, widened doors, grab bars in toilet stalls, raised toilet seats, and low-density carpet.”)

Each type of Lodge Traditional room
(whether king, queen or 2 dbl beds, whether it has a balcony, patio or neither)
is offered at the same price per night.

Examples of prices (plus taxes and fees)
$297.00 2 adults
$306.75 3 adults
$316.50 4 adults


Bunk Rooms – 1 Queen Bed and 1 Bunk Bed rooms are all in the Hemlock Building that has an interior hallway and interior staircases, great for during rain or snow, but not great when neighbors let their kids run up and down the hall and play or when a neighbor plays questionable music on his guitar with the room door open.

Examples of bunk room prices (plus taxes and fees)
2 adults $319,
3 adults $328.75,
4 adults $338.50,
5 adults $348.25.

The bunk bed rooms have a double bed on the lower section of the bunkbed and a twin on the top, plus a queen sized bed.

queen bed and bunkbed

In the center of the photo below is the ladder you use to get to the top bunk of the bunkbed:

bunkbed in foreground, queen sized bed behind

Hmmmm, in another room, this bunk-bed has the ladder end up too close to a wall:

bunkbed ladder quite close to wall of hotel room
Family Room – 1 King Bed, 1 Bunk Bed, and 1 Sofa that can fold out to a queen sized bed
2 or 3 or 4 adults $341.00, 5 adults $350.75, 6 adults $360.50, 7adults $370.25.

All of these are upstairs in the Cedar building. It can get hot in upstairs rooms during heat spells and there is no air conditioning and no balcony or patio to step out on to. Personal portable air conditioning units are not allowed.

stones forming a wall

Yosemite lodge room furnishings and layout:

Most Yosemite Valley Lodge rooms have a mini-fridge, but it may be missing the railing inside the door that holds bottles in:

door open on mini-fridge

Shampoo and soap dispensers in the shower might not all be labeled and might not all be full when you arrive:

three dispensers on shower wall, one with no label

Almost all rooms have, inside, 2 chairs at a table.

table, two chairs, TV on dresser

The two usually-much-wider chairs on balconies / patios don’t fit comfortably if you try to bring them in the room,

2 chairs and a table on a patio

but pop-up chairs you bring might fit in the room and out on the balcony / patio.


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A few larger rooms have a stall shower – no tub -, the toilet and the sink in three separate sections.
stall shower in small room

With a long counter for two sinks:

counter with 2 sinks


For most rooms, the sink area, often with a small draped closet, is often in a small alcove near the entrance to the room. Beyond it there is usually a separate section for the part of the of bathroom with the toilet and the tub with shower, with a door to that section.


hotel bathtub

bathroom sink and counter

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Many hotels will add extra locking latches on sliding glass doors when the original locks get old, and you are advised to use them.
two locking latches at edge of sliding glass door

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Rooms at corners of many the buildings are one king bed, even though the rest of the building might be only rooms with two double beds (or a queen and a bunkbed such as the Hemlock Building). First floor end rooms patios have a fence of some kind (various sizes) for privacy, but the fence section also blocks some of the view.

building with patio downstairs, balcony upstairs

Balconies and patios usually each come with a table and two chairs.


rows of large rocks in a wall
Connecting (adjoining) rooms at Yosemite Lodge.

At the Yosemite Lodge, some rooms connect with an interior door,
(but their balconies and patios do not connect).

(Advance reservations and a request to be next to each other are required to get rooms that can be connected and can not always be guaranteed.)

Examples include:

In Maple, Laurel, Juniper, Hemlock, and Alder the left and right corner rooms downstairs and upstairs connect to the next room:

(Maple 3516 -3514, 3504 – 3502, 3536 – 3534, 3524 – 3522)
(Laurel 3230 – 3229, 3221 – 3222, 3210 – 3209, 3202 – 3201)
(Juniper 3330 – 3329, 3322 – 3321, 3320 – 3309, 3302 – 3301)
(Hemlock 3416 – 3414, 3404 – 3402, 3436 – 3434, 3424 – 3422)
(Alder 3630 – 3629, 3622 – 3621, 3610 – 3609, 3602 – 3601)

Elderberry has sets of three rooms in the middle of the building that interconnect with interior doors
(4225 to 4224 to 4223 upstairs; 4204 to 4203 to 4202 downstairs and 4207 to 4206 to 4205 downstairs.

Manzanita has sets of three rooms in the middle of the building that connect with interior doors
(4528 to 4527 to 4526 upstairs, 4523 to 4522 to 4521 upstairs, 4508 to 4507 to 4506 downstairs and 4503 to 4502 to 4501 downstairs). Partial views of the falls through the trees exist (as long as the trees do not fill in much more) for 4528, 4527, 4526 and 4523 upstairs, 4508, 4507, 4506 downstairs. And the Manzanita Building is set back farther from Northside Drive traffic than other buildings with partial Yosemite Falls views.

Birch has a total of only six rooms, all on one floor, that can all be connected. It is the closest building to Northside Drive and one of the farthest from parking.
(4700 – 4701 – 4702 – 4703 – 4704 – 4705)

Cedar, Aspen, Willow, Cottonwood, Tamarack and Azalea have no connecting rooms.

(Many Ahwahnee cottages, including the 2 ADA cottages, and a number of main building rooms interconnect. Two of the largest balconies can be shared. The entire sixth floor can be rented at once to enable four bedrooms to share the large Tressider fireplace living room and the Sunroom. See photos at Ahwahnee Map.)

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An NPS Access brochure said:

Yosemite Valley Lodge has 10 accessible hotel rooms with accessible bathrooms and showers. If you have mobility issues, but don’t need an accessible room, make sure to request a room on the ground floor, as the hotel does not have elevators. There are 16 accessible parking spaces (10 of which are van accessible). The front lobby and tour desk, Mountain Room Bar, Mountain Room Restaurant, Basecamp Eatery, and gift shop are all accessible. There are three public, accessible restrooms in the front desk lobby (24 hours), in the Mountain Room Lobby (24 hours) and at the Basecamp Eatery (open during business hours). An outdoor accessible amphitheater may offer evening programs spring through fall. Most walkways are paved and accessible with designated parking spaces available near the registration building and accessible hotel rooms. A video phone is available for Deaf visitors.”

“Free accessibility kits are available for guests to take to their rooms at park lodging and include
smoke alarm, light flasher doorbell, and shake-awake alarm.”


sunlight star through branches

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The hotel has had this message; “Please note: Yosemite Valley Lodge does not have air-conditioners in the hotel rooms. Fans are provided in each room for your comfort.” A note that comes with each room warns: “Plugging in personal items may trip your breaker. Portable A/C” (air conditioning) “units and microwaves are NOT allowed.”

There is a microwave available for guest use adjacent to the front desk.

The Yosemite Valley Lodge has warned:
“Cooking or open flames are not permitted in your room or on the premises. You must use designated picnic areas such as Swinging Bridge or Lower Falls picnic area.”

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Yosemite Lodge restaurants

Basic descriptions of food services and photos, links to menus for

the Mountain Room,

Mountain Room Lounge,

Base Camp Eatery (formerly the Yosemite Lodge Food Court)

and Starbucks (formerly the coffee corner)

can be found at Yosemite valley restaurants, coffee bars, cafeterias, food service and groceries.

As well as basic to extravagant, (a few with a dress code),
casual, fast (grab and go)
or with table-side service,
indoor and outdoor food service
at other locations in the valley, as well as four grocery stores,
(not all of these are open all year)



Unfortunately, tall trees also block most of the view of Yosemite Fall from the tall windows at one end of the Yosemite Lodge Mountain View restaurant:

waterfall through windows


If you want to drive from Yosemite Lodge to the Ahwahnee Hotel for some fine dining,

be forewarned that CSAA maps says the drive
(with the new one way roads set-up in the valley) is 8.4 miles
and takes at least 22 minutes (in times of the day with less traffic).
AND the Ahwahnee Hotel might not have any parking space for you.


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When a trash bin at the outside dining areas is full,
find another trash bin rather than piling trash on top,

and report it to the management.

The trash bins are not bear-proof or critter proof unless the trash is securely inside:

trash bins with trash on top and on ground next to them



Guests of the Yosemite Valley Lodge and people who are not guests at the lodge can rent a bike there in warm months. Rentals are often offered at the Lodge for a longer season than at Curry Village. To pay and arrange for a rental go into the lobby and find the tour desk. Pick up the bike near the pool. Look for BIKE RENTAL PICK-UP at the Yosemite Valley lodge map.

Use of the swimming pool is free to overnight guests. Lifeguards are usually on duty and the pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, when conditions permit.” Non-lodging guests may pay a daily fee to use the pool at Yosemite Valley Lodge, or it may be free to everyone.http://www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/swimming/

large swimming pool with lots of chairs around the deck

Near one of the lifeguard stands you get a partial view of upper Yosemite Fall:

swimming pool with waterfall far in background

See also: Swimming in Yosemite National Park.

Smoking is strictly prohibited at all accommodations and buildings in Yosemite.”
Your overnight accommodation may have you initial and sign a statement when you check in that says, in part:
“I/we understand Yosemite National Park Lodges are smoke-free environments. A $250 fee will be assessed for smoking in a guest room. Designated outdoor smoking areas are available. You must be 25 feet away from any building or public space.”
(25 feet away from buildings means smoking is not allowed on hotel room balconies or patios.)


Your overnight accommodation may have you initial and sign a statement when you check in that says, in part:
“I/we understand that pets are not allowed in Yosemite National Park lodging , except service animals. ” Requirements for service animals are at:
https://www.nps.gov/subjects/accessibility/service-animals.htm which includes the answer to the question “Why isn’t my emotional support animal considered a service dog?

And your pet is also not allowed on the free shuttle buses or on trails.

2 signs say no pets allowed

a narrow band of sunset reflected on the water

There is free wi-fi for guests at the Lodge, but internet service is sometimes weak at best,
better than in Sequoia National park, but not as good as in Grand Teton National Park.
The website said: “WiFi bandwidth is limited in Yosemite National Park. WiFi is only available in the lobby, dining areas, and amphitheater. It is only recommended for checking email or some (very) light web browsing. Due to the limited WiFi bandwidth, hotel guests will likely not be able to stream movies or download/upload large files.”


Cell phone service is NOT available in all parts of Yosemite.
It is usually okay in the vicinity of the Exploration Center.
Many years we got 4 bars for Verizon and 3 bars for AT&T near the Exploration Center, versus 2 bars for each at the Ahwahnee and 2 bars Verizon, 1 bar AT&T in Upper Pines campground, at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, Curry Village and some other locations in East Yosemite Valley.

The park service said: “Cell phone coverage in Yosemite is spotty . . . Cell service is often impacted during daily peak visitation by the large number of people trying to access limited service; if you have four bars of service, but you can’t get a signal, this is why . . . cell coverage depends on your phone, the cloud cover and other seemingly mysterious factors and is not always reliable. ”


Bears do break in to vehicles in Yosemite National Park (all year) and food storage rules apply all over the park, not just in campgrounds.

When packing for your Yosemite vacation,

You can’t trust your own nose; look around the car, including under the seats, and in the glove compartment, thoroughly. Hey, no scented air fresheners hanging from the rear-view mirror!

Puuuuuulease get rid of the dashboard hula girl that emits the pina colada scent,
(only $2.99 at the Frys one day Flash Sale and you couldn’t resist)

and everything else scented from your vehicle so the bears won’t be tempted to break in.

Stop stuffing the ashtray with gum wrappers. Dig the old french fries out from under the seats.

No water bottle, bottle of brake fluid or spray can of deicer showing, the bears don’t know it’s not food and will break into your car because they see an item the shape of a food container.

A daypack / backpack is also a food container to a bear, so you should not leave even an empty pack visible in the car.

The best policy is to leave your car cleaned out of gear visible through the windows.

Air out your vehicle if you eat burgers/pizza on the way to the park.

Bears can get into locked rooftop car storage pods.

bear in storage pod on Jeep roof:

Setting your car alarm will not keep bears from getting into your car, but it can wake up everyone in the vicinity.

I suggest you stay with gear you tied on to your vehicle or in an open truck bed until it can get stored properly from animals / birds.

Notes on preventing bears from breaking into your vehicle are at bears.

The park warns:
“If your food is stored improperly, you will be cited for improper food storage (fine of up to $5,000).”
See also an index to over a dozen park webpages with park laws, rules, regulations and policies.

At any of the Yosemite lodgings, you have the possibility of seeing animals.

(Rarely) a raccoon has found its way into a hotel building.

Raccoons have torn screens off hotel room windows if you leave your window open when you are not in the room, even upstairs room windows.

Raccoons and other animals can climb up to hotel room balconies, so no, you can’t store your ice chest or other food on your balcony. NO, you can’t keep a bear or raccoon out of your patio or even off your balcony. No alarm will scare them off. Details are at BEARS

In ground floor rooms you need to be careful that an ice chest does not show to a bear (or . . .) looking in a window. Boxes of crackers, snacks are best stored in a room in a mouse-proof container, again, out of sight.

Likewise, valuables left on a shelf, table, desk in a hotel room / cabin / cottage / vehicle that show through a window are an invitation to a thief.

The Yosemite year-round resident Ravens are bigger than a Crow you might see at home.
(Ravens are 24 inches long and have a wingspan of 53 inches,
Crows are 17.5 inches long and have a wingspan of 39 inches.)


Ravens will try to take any food you leave unattended on your patio or balcony table. Staying with your food and keeping food within arm’s reach is a wise idea at every National Park restaurant with outside dining, hotel, cabin, campsite, picnic area or where you stop to eat along a trail.
Caw vs. Croak: Inside the Calls of Crows and Ravens

Not just bears, but also Ravens want to get into your gear, and some have figured out how to get into day packs (they can unzip or unfasten many different kinds of buckles and latches) or . . . a bag tied onto a motorcycle:

raven pecking at a bag on a motorcycle

Caw vs. Croak: Inside the Calls of Crows and Ravens

Steller’s Jays

are common, and they also want to get into your food. (Recordings of their calls are here.)
They come down to dining tables even while people are eating.

bird on door top and then next to food on table



rocks packed together

An app for Yosemite National Park info (best downloaded before you get there when you can find reliable internet), with info about visitor centers, historic places, natural features, and services throughout the park.

“Even without cellular service, the app will be able to share your location on the map and bring up all site content.”


photos on cell phone

rocks packed together

Short scenic walks from the Lodge:

2 photos of waterfall side by side

The large view below of Yosemite falls in February is from the far left hand portion of the Yosemite Falls walkways/trails.

 waterfall in three sections

To see this view and walk to near the base of the lower fall, go north (north east) along the main road that previously went through the Yosemite Lodge

road blocked off with waterfall beyond

and go across the main road (Northside Drive).

In the lower left corner of the map below you can see the Lodge, and perhaps find the pool (blue rectangle), and on the other side of the main road thru the Lodge property, the three dots representing the Aspen, Dogwood and Tamarack buildings, to help you visualize where this walkway is.

simple map

A one-mile loop trail leads to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall (the eastern side of the loop, to the base of the waterfall, is wheelchair accessible).

People at the start of the trail on the far side of Northside Drive from the Lodge:

waterfall behind people walking on pathway

Bridge at the lower Yosemite Fall viewing area:
base of waterfall, bridge in foreground

A description of this walk to lower Yosemite Fall is here.

Upper Yosemite Fall held stationary in mid-air is worth reading before you take this walk.

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If you follow the bike and pedestrian path behind Laurel, Juniper, Hemlock, Maple and Alder it takes you for a relatively short walk to a great view of Yosemite Falls, or go from free shuttle bus stop 7,

then along a parking lot road and down the path between Leidig meadow and the river to Swinging Bridge.

NPS map with added lettering to show how to find swinging bridge

Yosemite Falls in various seasons, from Swinging Bridge:

Yosemite falls April 1 2004: Yosemite Falls in summer & winter: Two photos side by side of the same stretch of river with Yosemite Falls in the background, a winter one with bare tree branches and lots of snow and a summer one with lots of leaves on the trees and shrubs and club people floating down the river in an inflatable kayak.
There is a swimming area (no lifeguards) and picnic tables with grills.

Swinging Bridge in winter:

snow covered pedestrian bridge with person standing on it

stones forming a wall

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Yosemite Valley Lodge details, photos of each of the rooms types and reservations links are at:


I suggest you book your room(s) directly through the hotel at the Travel Yosemite link above.

Some third party reservation agencies say they have rooms at hotels in the supposedly named “town” of “Yosemite Valley” that is actually many miles from the park.

Sometimes confused people with reservations for Yosemite View Lodge (which is outside of Yosemite National Park) have arrived at the front desk of Yosemite Valley Lodge, thinking that they had a reservation in Yosemite Valley. They are turned away when there are no reservations available in the valley for any lodging, which is frequent in warm months and on holiday weekends.

Some third party booking agencies charge a fee on top of the room cost – and they can’t get you a reservation that is not available at the official Yosemite Lodge reservation webpage: https://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/yosemite-valley-lodge/

When you book your room(s) through the hotel website you can request (at the last section of the reservation form), a specific room, specific adjoining rooms in specific building(s), upstairs or downstairs, which the hotel can try to get you (but can’t guarantee they will). Some third party booking agencies will tell you that you have the specific room(s) choices you want, but when you arrive at the hotel, they did not even pass on your request to the hotel.


When booking you should remember that it can be impossible to change once you get to the hotel.

Especially if you are one of the last people to check in on any given day,
and you made a reservation for a King room,
all the other, “traditional Rooms with a 1 King Bed”
might be already occupied by people who knew which rooms to ask for

and you could end up with
one of the downstairs Cedar building rooms
with the full view of the parking lot, no patio and lots of foot traffic passing by your room,
or a Cedar Room with no patio and a view of the HVAC unit at the side of the gift shop
or of a fence

rather than a room with a better view, for the same price.


All the hotels in Yosemite Valley are often solidly booked,
especially in warm weather months,
up to a year and a day in advance.

To get exactly the view you want at a Yosemite Valley hotel guaranteed, you can book a specific room that there is only one of. Examples include Curry Village Cabin 819, Ahwahnee hotel suites such as the second floor Presidential Suite, Third Floor Suite, Sunroom, Library Suite, or the Mary Curry Tressider bedroom. This also goes for places like Jenny Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park that has 37 historic cabins, but only one with a jacuzzi tub, that is rented out separately from all the others.

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When you try to get a room, you can get a message with this advice:

“We couldn’t find any results for your search! Here are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of locating room availability:
• If you are flexible, check each lodge individually rather than searching “All Yosemite Lodging.”
• If you would like to book a reservation for more than one night, try checking each day individually by property.
If you searched using the suggestions above, and you cannot locate available rooms, that means there is no availability in the park. Please update your search and check for availability on different dates.”

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View of just after sunset looking down at the Lodge lights, from Columbia Rock,
on the trail to upper Yosemite Falls (photo by Aaron Genovia):

looking down on Yosemite valley

pine tree branch ends

To the west of the Lodge is a day use parking lot
that could be more appropriate for guests with multiple vehicles,

or might be the only parking you find if you arrive late in the day.

Yosemite Falls day use parking lot, also known as the Yosemite Lodge day use parking lot

is across the road from Camp 4 (Camp Four) and at the edge of Yosemite Valley Lodge.

simple map

simple map

The long, straight road section, separate from the rest of the parking, at the bottom of the tan map,
labeled Yosemite Lodge Service Road is reserved for big tour buses only.

sign with no parking symbolsrow of large tour buses

This free day use parking lot is served by stop #7 (near the Laurel building) on the free shuttle bus system.

a few rows of cars in a parking lot

It has the same rules as all other parking about not parking off the pavement:

sign that says park in stalls only

You will find a few bear-proof food lockers and a warning about bear damage being common at the Yosemite Falls day use parking lot:

a sign that says: warning bear damage is common in this parking area


tops of tree branches


NPS photo of Yosemite Lodge under construction in 1955-1956, with Yosemite falls in background

framed building under construction


The route from the Lodge to other Yosemite valley locations takes longer than previously.
A travel app lists

Lodge – Camp Curry . . . 17 minutes if no traffic (6.9 miles)

Lodge – Upper Pines Campground . . . 18 minutes if no traffic ( 7.4 miles)

Curry Village – Lodge . . . 9 minutes if no traffic ( 2.6 miles)

Upper Pines campground – Lodge . . . 10 minutes if no traffic ( 2.7 miles)

Yosemite Village parking lot (near the main grocery / Exploration Center) – Lodge . . . 5 minutes if no traffic ( 1.4 miles)

Lodge – Ahwahnee . . . 23 minutes if no traffic ( 8.5 miles)

stones in a row on a wall

Where were they when they got that great picture in Yosemite?

Where can I take a photo that looks like the one on a Yosemite postcard I just bought?
Places to take photos of Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Staircase Falls.

raindrops on ends of spruce needles


Having a copy of the Yosemite Lodge Hotel Map

open on another tab on your computer (or printing a copy) while you
use Google maps to “drive through” the property can help.

Here is a link to a Google maps photo you can turn 360 degrees and follow into the Lodge complex, showing at this first section, the end of Willow Building next to the parking lot.


Google maps 360 degree street view of the Lodge courtyard / amphitheater and surrounding buildings .


During the 1997 flood, according to the NPS, at “Yosemite Lodge – 189 concession operated rental cabins flooded 5 to 8 feet deep. 172 concession operated motel rooms flooded up to 5 feet deep. 224 concession employee quarters and 15 support facilities flooded up to 8 feet deep. Underground utilities, landscaping and parking areas were also damaged.”


Yosemite Valley Lodge could be the best place to stay overnight in Yosemite valley for the February Horsetail Fall natural firefall

BUT be sure to find a parking space and keep your vehicle parked there, as many other people will want to be parking as close to the firefall as possible.

This next photo is courtesy of Tom Ingram Photography, all rights reserved Tom Ingram photography

waterfall lit by sunset light

During the February Horsetail Fall natural firefall, lanes of some roads are closed either to vehicles and/or pedestrians. Road-side parking (parts of both Northside and Southside Drives as well as El Cap crossover) and turnouts, many parking lots and picnic areas are closed to parking, and some years you need a permit to go to where you can see this natural light show.

(Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.)

This Firefall comes and goes in roughly only ten minutes.

Watch for signage. Wear warm clothes, waterproof boots, possibly waterproof outerwear and carry a flashlight or head lamp, since your cell phone will not function as a flashlight long enough or brightly enough.

Permit (or no permit, depending on the year)
reservation to enter the park (or no reservation needed, depending on the year)
and parking restrictions/ road closures info for viewing Horsetail Fall, at sunset
(and returning to your overnight accommodation after dark)
are at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/horsetailfall.htm
including warnings about safety and a larger copy of a map such as this:

simple map

Watch a Yosemite Conservancy video of Horsetail Fall.



bear walking along fallen tree

The Yosemite National Park rangers would like you to call them
if you see a bear in Yosemite,
no matter where it is or what it is doing.

Since 2003 there has been a note in the Yosemite Guide: REPORT ALL BEAR SIGHTINGS! To report bear sightings, improper food storage, trash problems, and other bear-related problems, leave a message for the Bear Management team at: 1 (209) 372-0322. Your call can be made anonymously.”

bear with blue tag on ear
If you can, in all the excitement, try to notice if the bear has a tag (usually on the ear), the color of the tag and if possible, the number on it (the tag is large enough that with a telephoto lens you should be able to read the number).

bear with ear tag

From the Yosemite Daily Report newspaper:
“It is extremely important to remember to yell at bears that are in and around development, even if they are foraging on natural food. Though it is very tempting to get close for a picture, or just to watch these incredible animals, it is important not to give into this urge. Yelling at them if they are in residential areas or near people is critical to keep bears natural fear of humans. Giving bears plenty of space. When bears become too comfortable around people, they will often start causing damage to structures and vehicles, or will even become too bold around people, creating safety concerns.”

And the Yosemite Daily Report also said:
“Scare bears when you see them. . . in developed areas- Yell like you mean it!
Make as much noise as possible, try waving your arms, stomping your feet
or anything to make you look intimidating and to get the bear to run away.
We know it’s fun to see bears and it can feel mean to scare them,
but this is a simple way to truly help save a bear’s life.”

NPS bear tracks: bearlogo: from the Keep Bears Wild program NPS bear tracks:
Below, a topographical map from 1907 (reprinted 1927) showing the the hotels at that time, the allowed camping area “Auto Camp” (no formal campgrounds), as well as administration area. Note the line showing LIMIT OF PUBLIC CAMPING.

simple map

You should be able to find the full sized map at: