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Curry Village is the place to stay if you are looking for an authentic Yosemite experience! I’ve stayed there three different times at three different times of year, so let me help you plan your stay! I’ve got all the lessons learned so you can have the best experience possible in Yosemite National Park.
We LOVE Yosemite. I can’t believe we’ve lived so close to it for so many years and never went! Now that I’ve discovered it, I’ve been four times and I’m heading back in about a month! The first time we went was the middle of winter so we stayed in a hotel in Oakhurst, and we quickly realized next time we came we were going to stay INSIDE the park. It is a bit more pricey and less luxurious, but oh so worth it in terms of convenience and maximizing your day!
Ever since then we’ve stayed in Curry Village for a few reasons:
Perks to Staying in Curry Village
- It’s much easier to get reservations than almost anywhere else in the park (especially camping, we’d love to camp but good luck with that).
- You don’t have to haul all the camping gear.
- You can get heated cabins (but NOT from memorial day-labor day. We learned that that hard way when we stayed there over Memorial Day weekend and they shut the heat off on us the second night).
- You’re only 1 mile from the Mist Trail trailhead (a huge perk when we were climbing Half Dome, by the way if you are doing Half Dome check out my little vlog of our hike here!), one of the most popular trails in the park.
- It’s a great place for families. The biggest tents they have are 4 cots, but they do not have a heater.
- It’s affordable. Yes you could stay at a pretty decent hotel for the same price in Oakhurst, but trust me. Curry Village is a way more authentic way to experience Yosemite! And if you get car sick, you can send me a box of chocolates when you get back for saving you a lot of not so fun driving.
Tips for Staying at Curry Village
If I’ve convinced you to stay there, let me walk you through some tips and tricks i’ve learned to make it a better experience
- Book your Stay. First things first, of course you need to book your stay. This is the website I always use to book Curry Village. If at first you don’t see availability for the dates you are planning on, do not give up. I have always been able to get a cabin every time I’ve wanted (not to say its a sure thing), but it takes persistence. I’ll usually leave the tab open on my computer and check 2-4 times a day. Then that fateful moment comes when instead of “no availability for those dates” something actually populates! Another trick to try if you are going for more than one night is to search each night separately. It may require moving tents, which is a pain, but sometimes, especially during the high season, it’s the only way to get a spot. They don’t actually assign you a tent until check in so you can try and ask them to keep you in the same tent when you check in. Turn on the charm!
- Pack Light. Curry Village is a decent sized area with really only one parking section. Chances are you are going to have to haul everything you brought a decent distance over rocky, awkward terrain. There are signs that say “luggage assistance available” but I’ve never seen it. I’m sure if you’re handicapped and really can’t do it on your own there is a way to get help. But it’s not going to be easy. All this is to say packing light is an advantage. That goes for food too. All food must be stored in the bear box next to your tent, so it might be worth bringing 2 smaller coolers rather than one huge, crazy heavy one. It will be easier to fit them in the bear box that way too.
- Bring Prepared Foods. No food prep is allowed in Curry Village. No fires. no grills. Nothing of the sort. There is a stray picnic table or two, but I wouldn’t count on that either. Bring easy, mostly prepared foods. I think the most “food prep” you should plan on is assembling sandwiches. Even that can be kind of awkward but can be done on top of the bear box (you could bring a tablecover of some sort if you want). We did bring a jetboil and boiled some water for things like hot chocolate and instant oatmeal, but I’m not totally sure if that’s really allowed. The good news is there is a pizza restaurant right there in Curry Village. And even better news, it’s actually really good pizza. But of course its expensive. And often very long lines. We usually bring a lot of hard boiled eggs and sandwich stuff and then eat at restaurants for dinner (There are several throughout the park).
- Prepare for Noise. Curry Village can be very loud. The tents are crammed in really close and sometimes you’re only a few inches from your neighbor. I wouldn’t survive without white noise. I love this one and bring it with me everytime we go camping! Quiet time starts at 10pm so be courteous to your neighbors! Or you might get a knock from me asking you to zip it. Some of us have to get up at 4am to get hiking.
- Plan for Public Bathrooms. The bathrooms at Curry Village are camp style. When they are clean they really aren’t’ too bad. Honestly as long as the toilet flushes I’m a happy woman. But sometimes, especially in the high season when there is so much traffic going in and out, they can be pretty nasty. You might want to bring some Clorox wipes with you. You definitely want shower shoes. And I wholeheartedly recommend bringing your own towel (although they do have them them there if you want to use them). The showers do have those pump shampoo and conditioner canisters or you can bring your own if you prefer. I personally like the pool bathroom the best. It’s the only bathroom you don’t need a code for, which can be nice in the middle of the night. And the sinks actually have some counter space. Somehow they usually seem cleaner too. But that might be because the pool has always been closed when I’ve been to Curry Village. I think they emptied it for COVID and it’s been that way every since.
- Bring Your Own Sleeping Bag. The cots (let’s call them cots, shall we?) really aren’t that bad. Especially if you go into this planning for camping style cots. You’ll be like, “hey these are more like beds and they’re pretty comfortable!” I like to keep expectations low ;). BUT, I do recommend bringing your own sleeping bag. Do they provide bedding, pillows etc? Yes. Do I want to climb into that bedding and put my head on that pillow? No. Oh yea, bring your own pillow.
- Which Tent You Are In Matters. Some of the tents are in far superior locations for various reasons. Some are in the first row right next to the parking. But then they are louder. Some are more isolated and private, but far from the bathroom. When you check in, if they give you options, you may want to take some time to go scope out a few different choices and then go back and let them know which one you prefer. Lot’s of time you’re just stuck with what they give you, however.
- Bring Your Bikes! Of course this is dependent on weather and time of year. And of course it’s logistically challenging to bring bikes. But if you can manage it, it is well worth the effort. Parking is a pain, you’ll waste half your day waiting for shuttles, and biking is officially the best way to experience the valley floor. There are bike racks everywhere.
- Know the cancelation policy. You can get a full refund up to 7 days before your trip. So just book it! Put a reminder in your phone about 10 days before the trip so you can cancel if things change.
- Bring a Battery Pack for your Phone. Here’s a little bonus tip. We’ve actually been able to access outlets in some of the tents we slept it, and in others the outlets were inaccessible. (I don’t think they’re really intended to be used). So bring a battery pack for your phone or you will be out of luck for picture taking by day 2! Also, don’t count on service anywhere in the park. You’re lucky if a text goes through (and you’ll probably drain your battery trying).
I hope this helps you plan your trip to Yosemite. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a DM on Instagram.
If you’re looking for more Yosemite inspo check out some of my Instagram posts about Yosemite here.