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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Jeanne Cooper

Travel writer and guidebook author Jeanne Cooper lives in Hawaii, where she volunteers with the Hawaii Island Humane Society and St. James’ Community Meal.