Tenaya Lodge’s New Cabins and Tours Make for an Easy Yosemite Weekend Getaway

Tenaya Lodge

“Yosemite puts on a new dress every season,” tour guide Amanda Von Raeder observes. But this summer has also meant plenty of alterations to visitors’ plans, thanks to a reservation system affecting most day visitors during peak hours through Sept. 30; the closure of the road to Glacier Point until at least 2023; and, at press time, construction blocking the Bridalveil Fall viewing area.

Upper and lower Yosemite falls. Photo by NPS/Damon Joyce.

Thankfully, Tenaya Lodge’s small-group, all-day Yosemite360 tours ($185 for adults, $95 for kids 12 and under) make it easy to explore the park no matter what the season. There’s no worry about nabbing a reservation, navigating mountain roads or hunting for parking. Instead, you’ll enjoy riding in a comfy new 10-passenger van with oversized windows, a picnic lunch below breathtaking Yosemite Falls — among other scenic stops — and lively commentary on the magical place treasured by guides like Von Raeder, who grew up in the park.

You don’t have to stay at the lodge, 2 miles from the park’s south entrance, to book one of the tours, but there’s no better post-park retreat than its Explorer Cabins (from $335). Introduced in late 2019, then closed for much of the pandemic, these handsome two-bedroom cottages include a living room with a gas fireplace, a modern kitchenette, a king bed in one bedroom and bunk beds or queen bed in the other, a tiled bathroom and a front or rear deck with Adirondack-inspired rocking chairs. 

Clustered among towering pines next to Big Creek, a crystal-clear tributary of the Merced River, the 50 cabins are an easy, if slightly uphill, 10-minute walk through the woods to the main lodge. Guests can enjoy all of eco-friendly Tenaya Lodge’s amenities, including a daily nature walk, electric mountain bikes (great for heading to nearby Jackson Falls), indoor and outdoor pools, the newly renovated Ascend spa, and hearty cuisine in its all-day restaurant and deli.

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Jeane Cooper

Travel and features writer Jeanne Cooper fell in love with Marin and the Bay Area as a graduate student at Stanford University. After 20 years as an editor and writer for the Washington Post, Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle, she began a freelance career that has taken her from the Austral Islands to Zimbabwe, with many visits to Hawaii in between. Her stories have appeared in numerous national and regional magazines, including Hemispheres, Sunset, San Francisco and Nob Hill Gazette, as well as Marin and Local Getaways. The author of several Frommer’s guidebooks, she now lives on the Big Island, where she’s active in animal rescue. She still enjoys exploring Northern California with her husband and friends.