Two miles south of Yosemite National Park’s southern entrance, Tenaya Lodge is nestled among the towering sugar pines and cedars of the Sierra National Forest.
Enter the high-ceilinged lobby filled with Southwest-patterned armchairs and plush leather couches. Check in under the gaze of elk, mule deer, and one (very out of place) caribou.
Walk past the mammoth stone fireplace en route to your room, which is down a… long, sterile hallway? “Wait a minute,” you think. “This kind of feels like a Marriott.”
Well, that’s because a Marriott is exactly what Tenaya used to be. But don’t stop reading here. Tenaya—minus its hallways—is perhaps the most rustically glamorous (if indeed those words can be combined) renovation of a major hotel chain in the West.
All 297 rooms have received a thorough makeover, but for the newest accomodations, stay in the suites on the lowest level. They feel surprisingly boutique and not so chain-like, thanks to their ceiling-mounted showerheads, gas fireplaces, and private patios.
Outside, the lodge offers plenty to do. In fact, between the 25-foot climbing wall, 60-plus miles of mountain bike trails, and horseback riding right down the road, it’s highly likely you could stay here for a week and not even set foot in Yosemite.
And that’s just during the summer. Winter at Tenaya means horse-drawn sleigh rides through evergreen forests, guided snowshoe nature hikes, ice skating, and day trips to Badger Pass Ski Area—California’s original ski resort.
And, of course, the 2,900-square-foot fitness area, heated indoor pool, and Ascent Spa (athletes: opt for the deep-tissue sports relief massage) are available year-round, as are Tenaya’s four on-site restaurants. Whether you opt for a quick burger at Jackalope’s or the braised lamb shank at Embers, make sure to order a local wine and the cookie pizza for dessert.
All of which is to say that Tenaya’s marketing department pretty much nailed the lodge’s tagline: “It’s like roughing it, minus the rough part.”
Getting there: Tenaya Lodge is located along Highway 41, two miles from Yosemite’s South Gate. The lodge is 55 miles north of Fresno Yosemite International Airport, about four hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, and about five hours from greater Los Angeles.