THE BACKGROUND: This 335-room two-storey rustic motor lodge provides large rooms and suites for clients on a budget, with free transfers into the park on the regular YART shuttle bus.
WHERE IS IT? Just 2.5 miles away from the western entrance of California's Yosemite National Park, the lodge stands by the Merced River, backed by pine trees and surrounded by mountains.
THE ROOM: My river view room had a balcony, two queen-size beds, a remote-control fireplace, a kitchenette with a coffee-maker, television, and a bathroom with a large spa tub and shower. Also available are the smaller mountain view queen rooms; the river view king spa room, sleeping two in a king-size bed with an in-room spa tub; mountain view (standard) or river view (deluxe) family suites sleeping six and eight; the loft room, with a king and a queen bed on two levels; and the majestic suite, sleeping two with a living room and full kitchen.
THE RESTAURANTS: The Yosemite View Lodge Restaurant and Lounge serves hearty dinners and classic American breakfasts. The rustic wood and stone setting is the perfect place to fill up on grits, muffins or eggs and bacon before a brisk trek through the park. There is also a pizza restaurant which serves other snacks and light meals and a cocktail lounge.
THE FACILITIES: Five spa tubs, three outdoor pools plus an indoor pool, a patio for enjoying the sunshine and cosy interior fireplaces to warm the cockles in the cool evenings. There is also a gift shop and convenience store for those utilising their kitchenettes, a coin-operated laundry and internet kiosk. The tour desk can arrange in-park itineraries.
HIGHLIGHT: Standing on my balcony in the pitch black with the sound of the gushing river below, a blanket of stars above and the fresh scent of pine.
RECOMMEND TO: It's not modern or polished, but families will love this great-value accommodation just a stone's throw from Yosemite National Park. With self-catering facilities, a choice of huge rooms and loads of outdoor space and pools, kids will be entertained, while the cosy country decor will still delight adults looking for a romantic mountain retreat.
THE COST: My river view queen room starts at $214 in high season and $135 in low season (standard mountain view queen room is $174 or $95), whilst the king spa room is $254 in high season and $165 in low season. Family suites start at $234 in high season and $145 in low season.
With resident racoons and hummingbirds, the lodge feels rustic without clients having to pay a premium to be inside the park itself. Big on size and value it's an all-American bargain.
Journalist, Selling Long Haul