Riverside Lodge Minutes from Yosemite National Park
Once it leaves Yosemite National Park, the Merced River picks up speed, developing whitewater rapids by the time it barrels past Yosemite View Lodge. This secluded inn is tucked into the Sierra Nevadas along the park's western border. Guest-room balconies overlook untouched wilderness centered on the rushing river and towering pines lining it on both sides. A short drive takes you to the entrance of the park, where you can behold Yosemite’s snow-covered peaks.
A private balcony or terrace is attached to each queen river-view room. Guests can warm up by the fireplace or brew a pot of coffee in the kitchenette. Each guest room is also outfitted with a spa tub, where you can make use of the soap, lotion, and scrub included with the spa gift bag.
Outdoor hot tubs sit on the river's edge, enabling splash wars with passing trout, but you can take a dip in the indoor pools if you’d rather stay inside. For a hearty meal before an outdoor adventure, visit the mountain-cabin-esque River Restaurant & Lounge, which serves upscale, traditional American breakfasts as well as dinner year-round. For lighter bites, the Yosemite View 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. 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, meaning you can leisurely explore the park while introducing yourself to its cold-weather beauty. On some early March mornings, frazil ice formed from the frozen mist of waterfalls can transform Yosemite Creek into a churning plume of slush.