Property at a Glance: Yosemite View Lodge
Once it leaves Yosemite National Park, the Merced River picks up speed, developing frothy whitewater rapids by the time it barrels past Yosemite View Lodge. This secluded inn is tucked into the Sierra Nevada mountains along the park’s western border. River-view room balconies overlook untouched wilderness centered on the rushing river and the towering pines lining it on both sides.
- The comforts of home: During your stay, you can warm up by the fireplace, brew a pot of coffee in the kitchenette, or soak in your spa tub.
- Added perk: This deal includes a spa gift basket filled with posh toiletries.
- Simmer awhile: In the indoor hot tubs and pool.
- Eat well: Use your $10 dining credit (with minimum $50 purchase) to fuel up for outdoor adventures at River Restaurant & Lounge, which serves traditional American breakfast and dinner year-round. The lodge’s convenience store sells groceries for lodgers looking to prepare their own meals and snacks.
El Portal, California: Gateway to Winter Adventure in Yosemite National Park
California State Route 140 follows the snaking Merced River 20 miles into Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that welcomes millions of visitors every year. Thanks to low elevations, much of the Yosemite Valley, as well as the Wawona area farther south, remains accessible to drivers, hikers, and snowball poachers throughout the winter.
Crowds are much smaller in the cooler months than during the summer rush, allowing for leisurely exploration of the park as well as an introduction to its cold-weather phenomena. In autumn, the leaves of big-leaf maples, black oaks, and pacific dogwoods turn brilliant shades of yellow and orange, providing a sharp contrast with the park’s many evergreens. During a short span in late February, the Horsetail Fall cascade often glows orange at sunset, flowing down El Capitan like a plume of flaming lava.