Ahhh, the après-Yosemite treat: refuel, reenergize, and reward yourself in the valley's beautiful setting. But don't change out of your sweaty hiking gear—it's part of the dress code at the Pizza Patio in Curry Village. A favorite spot among park staff, the Pizza Patio is just what the doctor ordered after a good hike. It's not about the pizza (which is pretty good), but rather the atmosphere of hanging out on a spacious wooden patio with a close-range view of Half Dome. Or for a taste of rustic sophistication, shower up and change your socks for a drop-in at The Ahwahnee Hotel, which serves up nature's decadence along with a classy bar and outdoor patio. The bar's black-and-white photographs and old-time piano hark back to pre-Gore-Tex days. And if you haven't seen the dining room, take a peek at its elegant, high-ceilinged wonder. Swanky!
Staying in Yosemite Valley without reservations months in advance is challenging, but be persistent. Check with the DNC (central reservations: 801-559-4884) for cancellations. To go a step further, call the front desk of your desired destination (they are more likely to have up-to-date information about cancellations) to see if they have availability. Camping and tent cabins without heaters are a good option if you have a warm sleeping bag. Outside the park, the newly renovated Yosemite View Lodge (209-379-2681) is 2 miles from the Arch Rock entrance on Highway 140. The yurts at Yosemite Lakes (209-962-0121) are a great option (bunkhouse cabins also available) and only 2 miles from the Big Oak Flat entrance on Highway 120. The historic Evergreen Lodge (800-935-6343) is 9 miles from the Big Oak Flat entrance and near little-visited Hetch Hetchy. And the Yosemite Westgate Lodge, a.k.a. America's Best Value Inn, (209-962-5281) is a clean and standard two-story motel 30 minutes from the Highway 120 entrance.