The classic wilderness lodge in the quintessential national park, the 82-year-old Ahwahnee was originally part of an effort by Park Service czar Stephen Mather to attract moneyed benefactors and persuade them to preserve America's wildlands. During the summer months, when 98 percent of the park's 3.6 million visitors descend, the "wild" aspect tends to get lost, but not so during winter. That's when the rustic, Native Americanthemed hotel (whose red-columned lobby inspired the set designers for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining) is at its best. You need only these things: a good camera, for capturing majestic rock-and-ice tableaux; cross-country skis or snowshoes (Badger Pass ski area, 30 minutes away in the park, has 350 miles of nordic trails); and a desire to be treated like royalty. The building's Half Dome side offers the best views in winter, when a standard room with breakfast can be had for as low as $265. In November, splurge on the three-night Vintners' Holidays package (from $996), which includes wine-tasting seminars and dinners in the famously cavernous dining room (yosemitepark.com).
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