|Price: $$ – $$$
For: Families, couples, singles, seniors
Different lodging types, free parking & internet, pool/hot tub, massages offered, onsite & planned activities, grocery store, restaurant, 40 min. to Yosemite Valley
When visiting Yosemite National Park, it’s a shame to only stay one day. That said, the options of lodging within the park itself are somewhat limited. Another option is to find a hotel, cabin, or campsite just outside the park but close enough to drive in and out each day. For the first time, my family and I had the chance to stay at a place called Evergreen Lodge, which is located near the western entrance to Yosemite and only a few minutes from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. For a different kind of experience, you can also check out their new sister property at Rush Creek Lodge (see full review here).
As the name suggests, Evergreen Lodge is tucked deep within a forest full of pine trees. With a restaurant, general store, tavern, pool, massage cabana, a sunset lookout point, and more, the lodge is more of a community than just a place to temporary place to sleep. After a full day of exploring, we wanted nothing more than to retreat to our cabin and just kick back – so relaxing!
On our winter-time Yosemite getaway, my mom and her husband joined us. We all stayed in a 2-bedroom cottage (Wapama 1) that was very clean and extremely cozy. After walking in, I was surprised by how tasteful and pleasant the decor was. The colors complimented each other well. It gave a rustic feel without being overly woodsy (aka dirty). We loved the artwork and decorations displayed as well. Depending on your needs and the number in your party, there are five types of cabins to reserve. You can take advantage of the custom camping (fully furnished) tents or the luxury John Muir house that sleeps up to 10. Prices range from $80 to $300 per night, with the big house being about $600-$1200 a night.
We had everything we needed here. The restaurant served breakfast and lunch, while the tavern was open for food service in the evening. Prices were a bit on the expensive but the tenderloin at dinner was totally worth it! The roads are a nightmare to face after dark so it became our ritual to come back before the sun set, hit the grocery store to pick up snacks for the night, some cereal to munch on in the morning, and maybe some sandwiches or fruit for the next day’s adventure.
There were heaters in each bedroom, a full bathroom, dressers to put our personal items in, a mini-fridge, and a Keurig machine that was fully stocked each day. We also had a small patio but it was too cold and wet to make use of during this particular trip. We did NOT have a television or internet connection in the cabin. This is done purposely to help guests take advantage of ‘getting away’ but they are available in the public area (I’ll talk about that later). The cabins can smell a bit musty at first so I’d suggest bringing an air freshener or some scented diffusers.
We were all so comfortable during our stay! There was plenty of room and we had daily housecleaning. That was so appreciated when we came home from hiking and had dirt all over. Those housekeepers work HARD – no wonder two were assigned. We couldn’t help but leave a good tip each day. My mom was mostly impressed by the stellar service we encountered and the friendliness of all the staff. About 60 employees live at the lodge during low season and around 100 are here during the peak months. That means they are right there with you and you can tell by their demeanor that they enjoyed working here!
One room had a queen bed, the other had two twin beds, and the common room had a queen-size sofa bed. All of us slept well while none woke up with back pain. The cabin featured high ceilings and windows in each area so we never felt claustrophobic. Each room was separated by wooden sliding doors. This was great for when we needed a little time to ourselves or wanted a bit of privacy. The lodge’s website states that there’s an iPod/iPhone dock but, actually, the SIRIUS radio there just had an adaptor that could plug into the headphone jack of your phone or music player. So, make sure you bring your charger…
During most of our stay, there were only 18 or so families occupying rooms. That means it was super quiet the majority of the time. All of the cabins are duplex-like structures so you will know if someone is staying on the side of the building. The weekend had an influx of new guests including a small family that moved in on the other side. We couldn’t hear each other talking but loud outbursts and stomping on the floors were noticed. We found that, after both sides figured this out, we all lived in peace 🙂
The Recreation Center had a huge fireplace inside and a smaller one outside. These are often used for making s’mores, an activity we enjoyed a couple of times while here. Families can use the many games and puzzles here or pick up a movie to borrow (standalone DVD-players can be rented). Onsite activity guides can be found here most of the time and they can help you set up hikes and tours or just give some tips on what to do or where to eat in the area. They can also help you set up an appointment at the private massage cabana on the property.
Computers with internet and Wi-Fi are found in the Recreation Center and the Tuolumne Hall across the way. Since the lodge is located so far out, the only internet they can get is by satellite. This means it is slow and spotty. If you have any work to be done online, make sure you finish it BEFORE you start your vacation. Usage is complimentary for guests though. Oh, forget about cell phone coverage too. Ah, what a great time to enjoy the great outdoors, eh?
The Tuolumne Hall also houses foosball tables, a pool table, a shuffleboard table, a children’s play area, and an adjoining 25-seat theater. The tweens and teens will likely prefer this area. They can also enjoy the new pool, spa, and pool house. Throughout the property, families with children will enjoy the little structures they can climb and play on. This is just a small summary of all the things that you can do while here. I haven’t even touched on the calendar of events that keep the lodge hopping during the peak spring/summer months. No wonder they are booked 120 days straight during that time!
What we all liked the most was that, no matter what type of travel style you prefer, you can enjoy yourself. If you like to keep busy and mingle, you can do that. If you want to just sit on your private porch and chill, you can do that too. The whole area is huge and spread out. The set up is so cute with lamps lighting every walkway.