Thinking of visiting Yosemite in October. Any advice as to where to stay? My wife talks about some sort of fancy pants lodge. I’m thinking more like a tent with a lake nearby just waiting for my kayak. Wish I had picked up the mace and bear canister on sale at REI …

Last time I went in October, the falls
were a mere trickle.

May is my favorite month
for Yosemite Park. I grew up in the Central Valley and have been visiting the Park for over 40 years (ok,now I’m feeling old)and having traveled to many National Parks across the country…Yosemite is my favorite. The view from El Cap will etch itself in your mind…just imagine John Muir, Ansel Adams, and others when they spent a summer there. Not a prettier place on earth. Bridal Veil Falls is a must see…earlier in the season is best and the hike up Half Dome is not easy, but so rewarding.

That said, it’s difficult to find a campground area to camp in the park, especially now as they fill up quickly. If no camping available, just check out the Cedar Lodge on 140 on the West side of the Park (hint…rooms in the very back are quiet) and then a 15-20 minute drive into the Park. Yosemite Lodge is complete overkill…nice, but to me it takes away the experience. Fall can be an outstanding time to visit: few visitors, first snow is spectacular, and leaves are brilliant with color. Gods place for sure.

sorry, I mean the Ahwahnee HOtel
in the Park and not the Yosemite Lodge…it’s beautiful, yes…but not my cup of tea in nature. Your mileage may vary.

Yosemite is very beautiful and very crowded. The Park Service does a good job of masking it, but it is hard to get away from people. Doesn’t matter where you camp–it is all nice. If you don’t want to use your tent, you can go from park “tent” motel rooms, to the Lodge to the Ahwanhee, which is truly one of the grand hotels in the world. If you can afford it, stay. If not, have a meal. If you want more space, try Tuolumne Meadows. North Lake is small. Saddlebag is a bit larger. With one caveat, I’d leave the kayak at home and just take day hikes. The caveat: Hetch Hetchy–assuming that you can put a kayak on the water, that would be spectacular. Imagine Yosemite flooded, and you all alone by yourself paddling down the center.

Hetch Hetchy off limits
It is beautiful, but no swimming or kayaking allowed. I don’t know what crazy person decided that one but it’s true.

are there any lakes
that AREN’T off limits? Throw a guy a bone!

(thanks, jimx200 et al.)