I know I should have planned farther in advance, but I’d really like to stay overnight in Yosemite this fall. I called up Central Reservations, and unfortunately they didn’t have any accessible rooms available for my preferred dates. I am a little flexible with my dates, but it appears that they are just sold out for September. Do you have any suggestions or perhaps some resources for accessible lodging outside of the park?
As you already discovered, accessible lodging fills up quickly in Yosemite National Park. That said, if you understand the reservation system, you might have a slight edge. You can book rooms a year in advance, but you have to put down a deposit equal to the cost of the first nights lodging. The catch is that you can cancel and get a full refund of your deposit, up until one week prior to the reservation. So some people just put down the deposit and take the gamble that they will be able to make the dates.
So when do these people decide to cancel? According to my sources in the park, it’s usually between 30 days and one week out. So, if your heart is set on in-park lodging, try calling up Central Reservations 30 days in advance, and keep it up every day until a week prior to your departure. It’s not a sure-fire tactic by any means, but it is a good Plan B if you want in-park lodging.
That said, you really need a Plan A, which requires looking outside the park, and my top choice for that is the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort (866-826-7108, www.yosemitebug.com) in nearby Midpines. Located just 26 miles from Yosemite Valley, the resort is perched alongside a stream, under a grove of black oak trees. You definitely get the feeling of being in the woods, as cabins are scattered all over the property.
Accessible parking is available to the left of the office, with ramp access up to the office in the back of the building. There is a wide doorway and plenty of room to navigate a wheelchair inside the office. From there, it’s best to drive up to the accessible Sentinel A cabin, as it’s located at the top of the hilly property.
There is accessible parking in the lot adjacent to the Sentinel A cabin, with ramped access up to the shared front porch. The cabin features a wide doorway with good pathway access between two 24-inch high opened-framed queen-sized beds. A desk, two easy chairs and a dresser round out the furnishings.
The bathroom features a five-foot turning radius, and is equipped with a roll-in shower with grab bars and a fold-down shower seat. The shower controls are easily reachable from the shower seat, but there isn’t a hand-held showerhead. The toilet grab bars are located on the left and back walls (as seated), and there is also a pedestal sink with a lowered mirror in the bathroom. It’s a very spacious, accessible and well-designed bathroom.
Yosemite Bug Gallery – Click for larger images
There is also good access to the public areas of the property, including the Yosemite Bug Cafe; which serves up a nice mixture of local, organic and sustainable menu items. Prices are reasonable, with vegan and vegetarian selections available. Even if you don’t stay there, it makes a nice lunch stop on the way to the park.
And if you’d like to park your car for the duration of your stay, the Yosemite Area Regional Transit (YARTS) bus (877-989-2787, www.yarts.com) also stops at the property. The bus stop is located about a half-mile from the office, and since the road is far from level it’s best to drive down to the bus stop and park in one of the pull-outs. The YARTS fleet has accessible buses, but 48-hours advance notice is required to secure one. The round trip fare to the Yosemite Visitor Center is $12, and from there you can connect to the accessible shuttle buses which stop at the major attractions in Yosemite Valley. It’s the no-stress way to enjoy Yosemite, as you don’t have to hunt for a parking space, which can be a challenge in peak season.
No matter how you get to the park, the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort is a great lodging choice for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. The staff is very friendly, the property is accessible, and it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle in Yosemite Valley.