After leaving Mariposa, you’ll find Cedar Lodge on the right side of the road, about 22 miles on, in the town of El Portal. It’s literally at the roadside, and is located 8 miles outside of the park. From the hotel to the actual toll gate of the park, it’s about a 10 minute drive (bearing in mind the 35mph speed limits on the mountain road). Once inside the gates, it’s another 10 minute drive to reach the famous Tunnel View lookout point over the valley.
I wanted to give a shout-out to the hotel because I’d read some not-so-great reviews about it beforehand. We didn’t have too much choice due to our late booking, and we didn’t want to stay “upscale” at The Ahwahnee in the park. Nor did we wish to stay further away from the park, say in Mariposa itself. So we were content to just take a chance on it.
I have to say, it was just fine. We only paid about $68 per night, and we didn’t have any issues with the place at all. I’m not sure what some people expect around National Parks, but clearly expectations were running high in some of the reviews I’d seen.
It’s called a hotel, but really lives up to the “lodge” of its name, with separate buildings comprising rooms on two levels. The rooms are cleaned daily, but it’s a very basic service, so if someone is expecting chocolates on the pillow etc, they’ll be disappointed! Our room had two queen beds in it, and was quite big – we had a table and chairs too, as well as a fridge, hairdryer, iron and ironing board. There was no in-room coffee maker, although they do provide coffee and tea in the reception area each day. The rooms are not internet-ready either, so if you can’t live without your internet hook-up, this probably won’t be the place for you either! You can take your laptop to get internet access in the lobby though – currently they charge $11 for 24 hour access.
The lobby was open from 7am-11pm, so if you have to check out early in the morning, make sure you chat to someone at reception to coordinate the key return – they charge $5 for “lost keys”, so it’s a good idea to get some information on what they want you to do with the key if you need to leave before the lobby opens.
There are dining facilities on site – a breakfast diner opens at 7am (7:30am in winter) – we never used it, but I think the breakfast buffet was about $10. They also have a bar area where you can grab a beer and some bar food. Again, if you’re looking for 5 star food, you’ll be disappointed – but if you’re ok with burgers and fries, it’ll be right up your alley! Nothing special, but just fine for a weary traveler. I’d read a lot of bed bug commentaries in various reviews, but I am happy to say that we did not have that experience.
There were no laundry facilities on site, but the Yosemite Lodge a few miles along the road, literally just outside of Yosemite Park gates, has laundry facilities that you can use. They do have an outdoor pool for the warmer months, as well as an indoor pool and hot tub which seemed to be busy while we were there.
Also a few miles along the road towards the park, there’s a small grocery store and a gas station next to each other, on the left side of the road. The grocery store seemed to sell a bit of everything that you could need, including some decent ready-made sandwiches, salads and pastas that were great for taking along on our driving days. It also had an ATM, but it was out of action when we were there. Apparently Yosemite Lodge also has one, and I did spot numerous ATMs in the stores within the park too. So it’s unlikely you’ll be stranded without cash – but as always, it pays to plan ahead.
Mark was particularly taken with the small train outside our room. He was determined that we should have our photo taken inside it at some point. So just before we left early morning, I set up the tripod so we could capture the moment!
If you look closely, you’ll maybe see little Cheeky sitting up in front of us…..(and the bear standing under the street light behind….)