Yosemite was top of the list when we decided to visit California with the teens. Mr CW and I had been before but had left it too late to book anywhere in the valley. Not this time, we would be organised. We would wake up and see the sheer cliffs rearing up in front of us. Staying in a Tent Cabin in Curry Village Yosemite is a bit like staying in a cross between a tent and a hotel room.
Planning the perfect Yosemite family holiday
Let me start this tale by telling you that Mr CW hates camping. Here is everything you need to know about booking a harmonious family stay in Yosemite valley. Plan ahead and book early. In January we decided where to go. Mr CW just had to book his leave. Whilst he does that I’ll take you through the accommodation options in Yosemite Valley.
Accommodation in Yosemite Valley
You can stay in tiptop super duper luxury in Yosemite Valley and you can can camp, with options in between. We booked using the Yosemite Park website, which also had details of accommodation elsewhere in the Park.
Ahwahnee Hotel (aka Majestic Yosemite Hotel)
Let’s start with the budget blowing option. The Ahwahnee Hotel opened in 1927 and is not only an extremely grand hotel but also a National Historic Monument. We opted to have breakfast and gawp at the public rooms. This was not included in our plans due to budgetary constraints but one day I will return and cross country ski from here. Prices start from $376 a room and wend their way upwards.
Yosemite Falls Lodge (aka Yosemite Valley Lodge)
Yosemite Falls Lodge is the perfect place to stay with families. There are comfortable en suite family rooms and a swimming pool. This perfection means that you need to book at least year in advance if you are travelling during the school holidays. We were not this organised. Had we been organised rooms start at $229.
In the Housekeeping Camp you stay in a three-sided concrete structure with a canvas roof. There are beds but you provide your own bedding. This was never an option for us because the bedding would have taken up valuable suitcase space.
Curry Village (aka Half Dome Village)
Curry Village has two types of accommodation. Motel style rooms that come with or without en suite bathrooms and tent cabins that come with or without heating. When we first looked family en suite motel rooms were available. By the time Mr CW had confirmed his leave we were left with a heated tent cabin. Heated tent cabins cost from $152 a night.
So you are staying in a Curry Village Cabin Tent: what can you expect?
I will not pretend that the discussions were not fraught in the CW family over whether or not we should stay in a Cabin Tent or somewhere outside Yosemite completely. I confess that finding information about what we would actually find was vanishingly hard to find, hence this guide.
What you get in a Curry Village Cabin Tent
We had a family tent with one double bed and two singles. When you arrive sheets, blankets and pillow cases are neatly folding on your beds. You need to make you own bed. Towels are also provided.
Bear lockers in Yosemite
Outside your tent is a large metal bear locker. This is not for keeping bears in but rather keeping bears away from tempting morsels. All food must be kept in the bear locker, as must all toiletries. A bear just smells tantalising stuff, it makes no differentiation between toothpaste and honey. Do not think that you can keep these things in your car: a bear would rip your car apart like a paperbag to get at them. On the Yosemite website it said that food should be kept in a cooler. This caused me much worry before we arrived. People did arrive with bear locker sized coolers but they had driven from their homes, not flown half way round the world. In the end though, all we had was some biscuits and the necessities to make sandwiches which did not require a cooler. What you will need is a padlock for your bear locker.
Are there electric sockets in a Curry Village Cabin Tent?
It depends. If you have an unheated option then no. Make sure you bring a power pack. You will have a light but no socket. In the heated tents there is one socket, this means a strict timetable to ensure that all phones and cameras get charged.
Where do I keep my valuables in Curry Village?
One thing I wasn’t expecting in our cabin tent was a safe, but I was wrong. We stowed our laptops, tablets and passports in the safe whilst we were out and about exploring Yosemite.
Do you need to bring a sleeping bag to Curry Village?
Take a sleeping bag, somebody told me. I rang Curry Village and they told me, no I did not need a sleeping bag. We stayed at the beginning of July, when we arrived in the late afternoon our tent was stiflingly hot. When we woke, jet lagged, at silly o’clock in the morning we were freezing. With hindsight we should have packed a thermal base layer to wear in bed. Friends stayed just a couple of weeks later and had no issues with the cold.
Curry Village Curfew
Well not a curfew but a quiet time. The thing with tents is that the walls are not very thick and sound travels. Having a party tent next door would be no fun. You are expected to be quiet between 10pm and 6am.
Showers at Curry Village
Memories of shower blocks from childhood caravan holidays did not fill us with joy at the thought of using the communal shower block. We need not have worried, they were clean and spacious. Soap and shampoo are provided.
Is there wifi in Curry Village?
Hmmmm …. in theory yes, in the Curry Village Guest Lounge. In reality it is extremely patchy.
What else will I find in the Curry Village Guest Lounge.
There is a wrap-around porch with tempting rocking chairs. These rocking chairs are so tempting that I never saw an empty one. Inside there are large comfy-looking chairs, they might have been comfy years ago but are in need of refurbishment. There are ceiling fans but they were not working when we were staying meaning that the room was extremely stuffy.
Curry Village Swimming Pool
In the heart of Curry Village there is a swimming pool, perfect for relaxing after a long day hiking. Adults pay $5 for a day and children under 12 $3. We didn’t swim in the pool as I prefer wild swimming. If you opt for wild swimming take care and heed warnings about dangerous places to swim.
Where to eat in Curry Village
Cooking is not allowed in Curry Village. There is a supermarket where you can buy cold things to make into salads or sandwiches. Ice is also available to use in your bear locker-sized cooler to keep your drinks cool. In the centre of Curry Village there is a cluster of places to eat.
Curry Village Ice Cream and Coffee Corner
Unsurprisingly this is the place to get coffee and ice cream. It is open from 6am in the morning to 11pm at night.
Curry Village Pavillion
This vast wood panelled dining room is the place to get breakfast and hot evening meals. Everything is on a self-serve basis. We at breakfast here but the teens never fancied the evening offerings. It also has quite short opening times 7am – 10am for breakfast and 5.30pm to 8.30pm for dinner.
Curry Village Pizza Patio and Bar
Pizza and beer are the order of the day here. Be warned, come early or be prepared to queue. Prices looked steep until we looked at the size of a large pizza and realised that it would easily feed the four of us for $20. We stayed three nights in Yosemite and ate pizza twice. You can eat pizzas from 5pm to 9pm during the week and from midday at the weekend.
Everything grilled is on offer here. Hamburgers, fish burgers, chips. We ate here once, it was OK but the pizza was better. The grill is open from 11am to 5pm.
OK, so the Ahwahnee Hotel is not in Curry Village. It is however only a short hop away on the free shuttle bus. The Ahwahnee Dining room is worth seeing full stop. It is vast. 130 feet long, 51 feed wide with its lofty beamed 34 foot ceiling supported by vast rock columns. For dinner you need to dress in an appropriate manner, so we went for breakfast. We opted for the buffet breakfast at $29 for adult and $14.50 for children. To be honest I have eaten better breakfasts but rarely in such a sumptuous setting.
Parking at Curry Village
There is a vast car park right next to the Cabin Tents, be warned that it may be vast but it is also available to all visitors to Yosemite and fills up during the day. We arrived, parked the car and then used the free shuttle bus to get around the valley.
Yosemite Valley Shuttle Bus
Once you have arrived there is no need to move your car to explore the Yosemite Valley. Indeed taking your car is a recipe for bad temper. The progress around the valley one way system is very, very slow. Once you arrive at the place to want to see or start your hike parking will be horrendous. Free shuttle buses make their way around the valley floor, stopping at all the places you are likely to want to see. They have special bus lanes and so don’t get snarled up in ordinary traffic. You will not have to park. We never had to wait more than five minutes for a bus.
What to bring to Curry Village
Some people arrived with huge cars filled with vast coolers, camping chairs and big fluffy blankets. I don’t deny that I envied the fluffy blankets but you don’t actually NEED them. Here is my Curry Village packing list for what you will need in addition to your hiking gear.
- Padlock for the bear locker
- Head torch for those late night trips to the shower block
- Flip flops to wear around the shower block
- Refillable water bottle, there are water fountains around the village
- Insect repellent
- Sun tan lotion
- Thermal base layer to sleep in
- Books and a pack of cards, with patchy wifi and limited charging facilities old fashioned entertainment is the order of the day
- Power pack to keep your camera topped up with power during the day
We ended our Californian road trip with a stay in San Francisco click here to find out about our adventures.