As we cruised down winding California State Highway 41, past towering sequoias, spirited woodpeckers and stately deer, our senses were flooded by the sights and sounds of the forest. This 265 mile road trip from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park marks our family’s fourth such adventure, and each one proves more exciting than the last.
Our previous experiences in Yosemite have always included tent poles, sleeping bags and camping bins carrying everything but the kitchen sink, but this trip promised to be different. With just one suitcase in tow, we turned off of Highway 41, through the rustic Tenaya Lodge entrance, and down a tiny paved road that led to a cozy cottage nestled among the cedars; our home for the next two unforgettable nights.
Just two miles from the south gate of Yosemite National Park, Tenaya Lodge has been serving outdoor families since the early 90s. Its 35 acres of pristine woodlands offers a treasure trove of year-round recreational adventure for every member of the family, and even the ultimate spa experience for aching mommy hiker feet.
Year-Round Tenaya Adventure
A plethora of organized activities will satisfy your inner adventurer, rain, snow or sunshine. In the winter months, sled down their private hill, take a spin around the open-air ice rink, go on a guided snowshoe hike or take a relaxing soak in the hot tub.
In the warmer months, activities include everything from archery lessons and horseback riding to rock-climbing and guided fly-fishing.
Make sure to sign up for one of their guided nighttime nature hikes. This easy, two and a half mile round trip hike, led by a knowledgeable and friendly naturalist, was one of the highlights of our trip!
Kid (and Pet) Friendly Excellence
From the moment you enter the lodge’s impressive wood and stone entrance and spot the Kid’s Check In, you’ll understand this mountain retreat’s commitment to making kids feel right at home. In addition to kid-sized stools in every public restroom and baskets brimming with crayons and coloring books at every turn, you’ll also find a entire arcade with video games, pinball machines, pool table and air hockey. Tenaya Lodge’s Sierra Adventure Club offers kids fun-filled day and evening camp and professional child care so parents can squeeze in some much-needed adult adventure time.
Named Sunset Magazine’s Best Pet-Friendly Resort in the West, Tenaya Lodge recognizes that our four-legged family members love vacations just as much as we do. Their Deluxe Pampered Pet Package includes pet amenities like a plush dog bed, water bowl and a freshly baked gourmet dog bone, as well as a pet concierge guide full of great ideas and helpful tips on how to enjoy the area with pets.
More Luxurious Creature Comforts
Don’t let this four diamond lodge’s rustic location fool you, its bounty of adventurous experiences go well beyond the outdoor variety. With the opening of Ascent Spa, a 10,000 square foot facility, Tenaya offers luxurious and relaxing therapies guaranteed to soothe your aching hiker feet and your cramping climber hands. From simpler nail services and sauna room soaks to exfoliating facials and blissful full body massages Ascent Spa has what you need to melt away the city stress.
Creating a Pathway to Green
As one can imagine, operating a 302-room property on the doorstep of one of America’s greatest national parks comes with its own set of challenges and its own keen responsibility. Tenaya takes its responsibility and raises the bar higher with the utmost awareness to environmental stewardship of local resources, reducing waste and creating programs to foster environmental awareness.
The property Double Silver Leed Certified, has implemented eco-designed lighting focused on eliminating light pollution, installed water-saving bath fixtures in each and every room on site and even ensures their housekeeping laundry detergents are biodegradable.
Hiking Right Outside Your Door
When tensions are running high and you don’t feel like one more day of piling all the kids into the car to brave the Yosemite Valley traffic, you can simply step outside your cottage’s front door. The lodge property and surrounding national forest offers a number of great kid-friendly hikes without the large crowds.
Our family hiked the close-by trails for four hours without seeing a single other person. We wandered, got lost, sang songs, and made memories to last a lifetime. We can’t wait to get back!
Know Before You Go
Mountain weather is fickle and can change suddenly. When driving through the area (particularly from October to late May) be aware of road closures. Check local weather and get up-to-date information regarding road conditions/closures from the California Department of Transportation before you travel.
Summer is the height of the family vacation season, as such, you may encounter long lines, traffic jams and skyhigh rates. Traveling in the spring or fall will still provide fantastic opportunities to visit the area without all the stress. Even still, booking 4-6 months in advance anywhere near Yosemite National Park is highly recommended!
The air is thinner up there. Remember Tenaya Lodge is at an elevation of 5288 feet, so don’t push too hard or you just might find yourself sitting out on your trip of a lifetime. Symptoms of altitude sickness generally occur within hours of arriving at your destination and can vary drastically. If you experience headache, nausea, insomnia, irritability, shortness of breath or any sort of sudden onset of physical or mental limitation, seek a medical professional immediately.