Once a year my brother, father and I gather for a National Park retreat. We gather all of our camping gear, tents, sleeping bags, coffee, food, snacks, and everything else imaginable and kick it in the woods, sleeping on the floor with a bonfire crackling all night. This year however, we decided to glam up our camping and go the more comfortable route by renting a tent cabin at the Yosemite Half Dome Village (formerly known as Curry Village). Hence the term glamping.
Yosemite’s Half Dome Village
Half Dome Village is in my opinion, somewhere between sleeping in a tent and a cheap cabin. It gets the job done but it is by no means anywhere near sleeping at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
Located at the back of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome Village is made up of 60 Cabins, 18 standard motel rooms and 403 canvas tent cabins. Since we personally stayed at the canvas tent cabins, that is what we will be focusing on in this post. 🙂
>> Check in is at the main wooden building next to the only parking area for the village. This building is open 24-7 unless the Village is closed.
The tent cabins themselves are two different sizes (small and large) and differ in bedding accommodations. Tent cabins can accommodate anywhere between 2-5 guests and provide the following:
* Wool blankets & pillows
* A shelving unit & chair
* A safe
* Bear proof food storage bin
The tent cabins DO NOT include:
* In cabin bathrooms. The bathrooms are community style divided by gender, and are heated if need be along with handicap and family bathrooms.
* No electric power outlets, tv’s or radio’s. The only electricity provided is a lightbulb.
* Absolutely no eating is allowed inside of the cabins. You are only permitted to eat outside of the cabin. If caught, you can face a fine of up to $5,000.
* No cooking is allowed anywhere on camp. This is mainly due to ward off bears and keep mice and rodents from entering the cabins. There are designated picnic areas throughout the park.
* No heating in MOST of the tent cabins. Heated cabins are labeled as so when reserving and are limited, so reserve in advance!
* No pets allowed on property with the exception of service animals.
What to bring…
Considering we stayed during early May and STILL managed to freeze at night, I’d suggest to always bring extra blankets and layers with you to the camp. They can stay in the car or stowed away in luggage but at least they provide peace of mind when the weather decides to throw you a curve ball. With that being said, it is suggested you haul with you the following items:
* Most forgotten item: Lock for your food storage bin!
* Extra blankets and layers of clothing.
* Rain jacket/poncho, SPECIALLY if you’re planning on hiking the Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail or as I like to call it, “Shower number two.”
* Headlamps, flashlights, and spare batteries
* Flip flops/shower shoes
* Cooler. Otherwise there is no way to keep your drinks and cool foods cold.
* Refillable water jug/bottles…or my favorite, a hydroflask
* Ear plugs because not everyone respects quiet hours. (These are also provided at the front desk).
* Solar charger/car charger for your cell phone
* Foldable chairs. Trust me, you’ll want to sit outside and enjoy the morning!
* Extra towels. The towels provided are your typical “just too small” beach towels.
Alright, you’ve covered the basics and the do’s and don’ts. Tell me about the actual camp.
Half Dome Village is in my opinion, the perfect alternative to camping. Right off the bat you are welcomed by friendly and knowledgable employees. They inform you all about the camp, current hazards, the weather for the week and a basic layout of the camp along with a camp map and your tent keys.
This beautiful “glamping” location is in the heart of Yosemite Valley, and a few minutes walk from Merced River and the trail head to Mist Trail. Enveloped in Redwood Trees and Pine Trees, one quickly forgets about their home back home and quickly adapts to the fresh, mountain air.
This all sounds amazing! What’s the catch?!
There is no catch except for the rental fees and few rules. However there are a few negatives to this oasis.
* The only parking area is quite small and can make for quite a long walk depending on the location of your tent cabin. The up side, there is limited extra parking down the small, narrow road off to the left of the parking. This alternative can be a life saver for those whose tent cabin is to the far left of the camp site! Beware, it is surrounded by trees*** Do NOT leave any food in your car (which also applies to the rest of the park).
* The bathrooms/showers could all use a lot of TLC. They are outdated and verging on the “just a little too disgusting” line. Don’t get me wrong, showers and bathrooms are a luxury when staying outdoors but should be well maintained if included at a camp site.
* As mentioned above, absolutely NO COOKING allowed on property which complicates the whole eating ordeal. Personally, we brought sandwich meats and cheese with chips and snacks and chomped down on that the entire week.
* Finally, NO bonfires allowed anywhere on camp. Which kind of deflates the camping mentality of it all. 🙁 But hey, at least you have a comfy bed to crash out on after a long and grueling hike!
Half Dome Village provides a number of different activities to do according to season.
* Summer: Amphitheater opens. Here you can watch movies at night or enjoy a nature program.
* Swimming at the outdoor heated pool; end of May thru early September.
* Winter Ice skating
* Bike rentals
* Rafting rentals
* Rock climbing
* Guided tours
That about sums it all up ladies and gentlemen!
If you’re looking for a nice, more comfortable alternative to camping, be sure to check out Yosemite’s Half Dome Village.
Oh! One more thing. I almost forgot to mention the one specific tent turn down employee who improved our entire stay with her lovable personality and key tips for our stay at Yosemite. Everyone meet Laura!
Thank you Laura!
In conclusion, I hope this brief breakdown of the Yosemite Half Dome Village helped in choosing your next camping destination. This village has provided travelers with a safe and comfortable environment since 1899 and is still going strong so make sure to check it out on your next visit!