Adventures in Glamping: Yosemite National Park

Last Saturday morning, I woke up to the steady rushing of rain on a canvas roof. It took a minute to orient myself in the cozy gray light. Then I remembered that I’d traded my city digs for a weekend of glamping in Yosemite.

It was the first year I wasn’t traveling for Thanksgiving Day, so I decided to head to the mountains. I knew it was going to be cold and potentially snowy, so I ruled out a tent. Instead, I decided to embrace the glamping trend and rented one of the yurts at Yosemite Lakes Resort.

Glamping in Yosemite National Park

What are yurts, anyway?

For centuries, yurts have been a portable, bent dwelling structure. They were traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia as their homes. More recently, they’ve become one of the hot-ticket abodes to rent for those too weary (or wary) to go tent-camping. Modern yurts typically come with electricity, kitchens, bathrooms, and all the things you need to make a rustic experience cozy.

Glamping in Yosemite Lakes

Yosemite Lakes, a division of Thousand Trails, has two yurt villages—a hillside yurt village and a river yurt village. I accidentally drove to the river yurt village first. Though it sounds picturesque, I ultimately decided I’d made the right choice to go for a hillside yurt. The hillside yurts were positioned far off the main road, which meant they were quieter and had lovely mountain views.

For two nights, I paid $261 for my yurt, and it easily rivaled some hotel rooms I’ve  paid more for. In terms of food prep, it came equipped with a kitchenette (full fridge, stove top, microwave, and full-size coffeemaker). There was a full indoor and outdoor dining area. Outside, it came with a propane grill on the front deck. This meant I could forgo the charcoal, which can be hard to find this time of year. (For those who want a more rustic experience, a grated fire pit is perfect for campfire roasts and dutch ovens. I definitely took advantage of it for s’mores roasting later in the evening!)

The yurt also had a full-size futon and a small TV, a queen-sized bed, and a propane-powered cast-iron stove for heat. Linens were included. It was so cozy to lay in bed with a nicely controlled fire to keep me toasty! The bathroom was (almost embarrassingly) larger than my bathroom in San Francisco, with a shower, closet space, and shelving for toiletries.

Do note though, that the yurt location is completely off the grid in terms of cell service and Wi-Fi. I loved it—it felt great to completely unplug. In case you do need to check email, there’s Wi-Fi at both the check-in area and the Family Lodge.

Yosemite Lakes Amenities

To be honest, I’d ruled Yosemite Lakes out because it looked at first glance like an RV campground. But it kept turning up in searches, so eventually I looked a little harder. While it is technically an RV campground, they also have the yurts as well as cabins for rent. It was too chilly for outdoor activities while I was there, but it had a mini golf course and a pool. In the family lodge (which had Wi-Fi), there was a pool table and ping-pong, a robust take-one-leave-one bookshelf (mostly with dishy romance novels and YA fiction), board games, and a popcorn machine.

Where is Yosemite Lakes?

In terms of location, mine was one of the most conveniently close campgrounds outside of the park. Evergreen Lodge is closer to Hetch-Hetchy Resevoir, which is an extension of Yosemite. But to get to Yosemite Village, you had to take an incredibly long and windy road. Yosemite Lakes was a pretty straight shot (about five miles) to the park gates. Once throug, you could enjoy that spectacular drive down to the Valley.

Should I try glamping in Yosemite?

Though this was my first foray into glamping, it definitely had its upsides. It was incredibly convenient to not schlepp my hardcore gear out of the city (and out of the closet). And I liked that I could still be so close to nature. I can easily see myself on another yurt adventure in the not-so-distant future.

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