How to Visit Yosemite on a Budget

Located just a mile from Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy entrance, Evergreen Lodge is an ideal place to stay when you visit Yosemite on a budget. With rustic and comfortable Vintage Cabins, a range of on-property amenities and activities, and fast access to Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy entrance, Evergreen Lodge is one of the best places in Yosemite to stay on a budget.

Need a little more convincing? See how you can plan an affordable trip to Yosemite with Evergreen Lodge

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Choose Budget Friendly Cabins

The Vintage Cabins at Evergreen Lodge are ideal for travelers experiencing Yosemite on a budget. These cabins blend that classic “cabin in the woods” feel with contemporary comforts to make your stay even better. Each cabin features queen beds, a small reading area, and a covered big timber front porch. 

Evergreen Lodge’s Vintage Cabins are equipped with air conditioning, a private bathroom with a shower and Ecossential bath products, a mini fridge, coffee machine, and even an electric kettle with an assortment of teas. WiFi is available in the cabins and throughout Evergreen Lodge for guest use, free of charge. 

Guests in the Vintage Cabins at Evergreen Lodge are welcome to all of the property’s amenities, like the well-stocked General Store and delicious meals (and satellite TV) in the restaurant and Tavern, and the various outdoor adventure activities held by Evergreen Lodge. 

Take Advantage of Activities & Amenities Included with your Stay

Evergreen Lodge offers a wide range of activities for their guests, making it an ideal spot for those seeing Yosemite on a budget. The lodge offers daily activities like games, guest lectures, and live music. Guests gather nightly around the outdoor fire for s’mores and stargazing, and can fill their days with family hikes, nature crafts, and more. 

Here’s a list of outdoor fun you can enjoy during a stay at Evergreen Lodge:

  • Outdoor, solar-heated swimming pool (open year-round)
  • Hot tub
  • Kids playground
  • Onsite nature trail
  • Disc golf course
  • Horseshoes and bocce
  • Kids’ zipline

And much more outdoor fun!

Evergreen Lodge offers guided Yosemite hikes in Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy Valley, as well as white-water rafting, horseback riding, and even flight tours. A guided excursion with one of Evergreen Lodge’s expert guides is a great way to see Yosemite on a budget – whether you see it from horseback or on foot! 

Seek out these Budget Friendly Perks for Travelers

Evergreen Lodge offers packages and special offers that can help you get the most out of your trip when visiting Yosemite on a budget. Book a romantic Yosemite getaway package, an ultimate California staycation, or take advantage of Evergreen Lodge’s seasonal packages, like the Late Summer Savings package or Yosemite Fall Getaway. 

Looking to summit Half Dome during your trip, or wondering about public transportation within Yosemite Valley? Check out the National Park Service’s Yosemite Valley website, which is the best source for the most up to date information about weather conditions, road closures, and other important Yosemite details. 

Evergreen Lodge is the answer for those visiting Yosemite on a budget. The Vintage Cabins provide comfortable, cost-effective accommodations just minutes from Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy entrance, with plenty of free things to do on-site and expert guidance for offsite activities. Ready to experience the best of Yosemite without breaking the bank? Book your stay at Evergreen Lodge today! 

Your Essential Yosemite Camping List

When you plan to camp in Yosemite National Park, there are a plethora of things to consider: your packing list, the best time to go, acceptable camping practices, how long to stay, and more. Evergreen Lodge offers a custom Yosemite camping option to simplify your camping trip so you can enjoy your time to the fullest. Read on for more information about camping in Yosemite and a Yosemite camping list! 

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What to Bring?

Equipment

While the equipment you’ll need to camp in Yosemite varies depending on your daytime activities, some of the basics will be the same no matter what:

  • Tent and accessories
  • Camping chair
  • Sleeping bag and liner
  • Lantern

When you elect Evergreen Lodge’s Custom Camping alternative, you’re treated to a fully set-up campsite upon arrival – no need to pack in your tent! Your mesh-windowed tent will include a queen size foam mattress (or a queen and two twins, sleeping bags and liners, and a pillow for each camper).

Outside the tent, you’ll find a camping chair for each member of your party set around a tree trunk “table,” a lantern, and a numbered bear box for each campsite’s use. Evergreen Lodge Custom Camping package also grants you access to a well-appointed bathhouse and all of the lodge’s facilities

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What to Wear?

Clothing

Wondering what you’ll need to wear while you’re camping in Yosemite? Aside from seasonally-appropriate outdoor weather gear, like a raincoat, you’ll want to utilize layers. The temperature in Yosemite can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding areas due to the high elevation, and nighttime temperatures can dip into frosty feels throughout most of camping season. Don’t forget…

  • Plenty of socks + underclothes
  • Moisture-wicking shirts + tops 
  • Hiking pants/shorts 
  • Camp/shower sandals 
  • Hat or beanie 

Evergreen Lodge’s Custom Camping option takes care of the largest aspects of camping, like the tent and chair, so you can prioritize your own packing list. When you arrive at Evergreen Lodge, you can make full use of the property’s facilities: wash and dry your clothes, take a hot shower in the shared bathhouse, and climb into your tent to get a good night’s rest for the next day’s adventures. 

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What Not to Forget

Personal Items

What kind of personal items do you need to pack to camp in Yosemite? Most seasoned campers recommend a basic repair kit, extra batteries for anything you bring that runs on battery power, and your navigation method, along with any activity-specific gear you need. We also recommend…

  • Your favorite sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Any Forest Service or park passes you require for outings
  • A sturdy reusable water bottle
  • A notebook + pen/pencil 

 

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Custom Camping

Fun Made Easy

The Custom Camping option at Evergreen Lodge allows you to focus on the personal parts of camping while the lodge takes care of the logistics. Knowing that your campsite is set up with everything you need at the end of the day alleviates stress and literal weight on your shoulders, leaving you to soak up every minute of your Yosemite camping experience.  

Forget something? The General Store & Gift Shop at Evergreen Lodge has you covered with the usual items, like toothpaste, sunscreen, batteries, and water bottles. The General Store & Gift Shop also offers everything you need for a successful day on the trails, from hot coffee and breakfast items to deli sandwiches and fresh fruit. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Yosemite Camping

Yosemite is a popular camping destination and brings campers from all walks of life together – but when is the best time to go camping in Yosemite? How long do you need to camp to get the true Yosemite experience? Read on to find out. 

What is the best month to camp in Yosemite?
The best month to camp in Yosemite varies depending on what you want from your camping trip.

With Evergreen Lodge’s Custom Camping package, you can see the wildflowers return to the landscape in spring, swim in May Lake in the summer, or sleep amongst the changing trees in fall! This option is available from May to October, with dates filling up quickly for the time between April and September.

How many days do you need to camp in Yosemite?
Most Yosemite campers stay between two and four days.

Longer trips give you more time to soak in the sights, but shorter excursions challenge you to make the most of your time. There are limits on Yosemite camping during peak season, with the park only allowing 7 consecutive nights in Yosemite Valley between May 1 and September 15. 

Looking for an itinerary for your two, three, or four day trip to Yosemite?
There is plenty of options!

See these itineraries and find more information about the best sights to see and things to do in Yosemite! 

Camping in Yosemite National Park is a bucket list item for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike – with breathtaking landscapes and countless adventures waiting within them, there’s no surprise camping is one of the most popular things to do in Yosemite. When you’re ready to camp, let Evergreen Lodge do the heavy lifting and head out on your Yosemite camping adventure! 

Wellness Vacations Near Yosemite National Park

Anyone who looks at a beautiful photo of a nature scene depicting a sunset or a mountain range or a towering forest of evergreen trees can’t help but smile and wish they were there. Studies are now proving that those who go the extra step, physically stand in nature and experience its beauty firsthand are receiving immense benefits for their mental and physical health.

Celebrating 20 Years of the Youth Intern Program

When I first started my job search, all I was looking for was to be close to Yosemite. This is the place I came when I was young, and it shaped me in ways I am forever thankful for. When I found my way to the Rush Creek and Evergreen Lodges, I was excited for my work in marketing because sharing my love for Yosemite was so easy.

When I first arrived, I thought I would be promoting the image of a beautiful, family-friendly vacation spot. And that was certainly the job. But then I learned about the Youth Development Program at both lodges. I wasn’t only getting people excited about visiting Yosemite, I was helping to support a mission. A mission centered around supporting and helping young adults in need.

The Youth Program is an aspect of the company I’m always proud to share. A business with a social enterprise is not something I sought out, but was something I’m thrilled to promote. The transition from city life to the woods can be complicated, but the support and community on this mountain makes it possible. I, along with every employee and intern, made a leap of faith, some of necessity and some of adventure, to see what remote Yosemite life could offer us.

What makes the Interns in the program so successful is a culmination of the efforts of every single employee. Whether that means being a mentor or a friend, a coworker or a peer, everyone here has a vested interest in supporting the experiences and success of the Interns. One administrator took an intern under their wing to give flying lessons to her. Another employee started a regular game night with several of the interns, and despite many of them being gone now, they all still stay in contact in a group message. Personally, my very best friend out here is a former intern. And I count myself eternally lucky to be her friend and to have her in my life.

As much as this program is meant to support the interns, the interns are what really bring this community together. When interns are around, other employees make a marked effort to be a good role model and to build community with one another. Without this impactful program, the lodges would not be the same. And in my opinion, the lodges would not be the success they are without the program.

Colors of Yosemite 2021 Photo Contest Winners

From stunning reflections and winter wonderlands to just the cutest little critters, there was truly something for everyone this time around.

Thank you to all who shared, and to all who cast their votes.  Your participation not only makes it fun for us, but it helps everyone keep #YosemiteDreaming when they need it most.

Yosemite Inspiration 2021 Spring Photo Contest

Wow! So many great guest photos and memories from our Spring photo contest, Yosemite Inspiration.
From little adventurers to wintry Half Dome, full moon mornings to family vacations, there was truly something for everyone this time around.

Thank you to all who shared, and to all who cast their votes.  Your participation not only makes it fun for us, but it helps everyone keep #YosemiteDreaming when they need it most.

Here we congratulate the winners and share a few honorable mentions that we loved.  We hope you do too!

Winners With the Most Votes

1st Place: David S.

1545 points

Sitting on Top the World
Prize: 2-night stay

GS: “Sitting on Top of the World at Sentinel Dome In addition to all the activities, relaxing, and great food at Evergreen, we do love our jaunts into Yosemite! A favorite family tradition.”

EL: Congratulations on your big win, David, and a big thank you to all your friends and family who participated in the contest. Way to capture a cuteness overload moment that will be cherished for so many years to come.  

David S. - Spring Photo Contest 2021

Runner Up: Veronica R.

1014 points

Wintry Half Dome
Prize: 1-night stay

II: “View of Half Dome”

EL: Winter in Yosemite may be one of the underrated seasons to visit! We love everything the winter has to offer from snowshoeing and skiing to bluebird skies and snowmen! But this snowy shot gives Half Dome a whole new look. 

Veronica R. - Spring Photo Contest 2021

Runner Up: Daniel L

613 points

Morning Moon
Prize: 1-night stay

DL: “Taken out the window of our cabin, Cedar 11, on the morning of April 26.”

EL: There’s definitely something special to see each hour of the day at Evergreen and Yosemite. From sunrises to sunsets, every moment has something to capture! Especially this calm morning with the glow of the moon… truly a time of serenity. 

Daniel L. - Spring Photo Contest 2021

Some Honorable Mentions You’ll Love

February Firefall, by Antenor M.

AM: “Firefall 2021 an awesome adventure”

EL: We love this glowing picture of Firefall! One of our favorite parts of the winter season is the excitement for this annual natural occurrence, thanks Antenor for sharing this golden hour moment with us. 

Antenor M. - Spring Photo Contest 2021
Hetch Hetchy Wildlife, by Marilyn S.

MS: Back at the lodge… “We loved Evergreen! Friendly, helpful staff, good food, lot’s to do. We got snowed in one day. Didn’t matter we played disk golf in show shoes, won prizes at bingo, warmed in the hot tub, played chess by the fire, toasted marshmallows and had great food and drinks.”

EL: Wildlife alert! We love seeing so many pictures of wildlife in Yosemite. Hetch Hetchy is quite the hotspot to see all types of creatures from this cute (but not harmless) bobcat to deer and bear! Great shot! 

Marilyn S. - Spring Photo Contest 2021
Tavern Fun, by Leah B.

LB: “Root beer with dinner at Evergreen Lodge!”

EL: There’s nothing better than unwinding after a day in Yosemite at Evergreen Tavern. That first sip of root beer must’ve been a refreshing and sweet moment! Such a cute pic!

Leah B. - Spring Photo Contest 2021
There’s More…

Anytime you need a little Yosemite sunshine in your day, Visit the Gallery

New Photo Contest: S’more Yosemite Summer Fun

It’s time to get inspired, Yosemite style!  While we’re all #YosemiteDreaming of visiting again soon, let’s share our most inspiring photos of past Yosemite visits.

It’s easy to enter here:
S’more Yosemite Summer Fun

Who knows? You might just win a free stay at the Evergreen soon!

Your Next Yosemite Adventure

Meanwhile, if you’re ready to plan your next Yosemite visit, be sure to check out our Packages and Special Offers page for the best deals and most convenient bundles. Or just give us a call at (209) 379-2606 or email us at info@evergreenlodge.com and we’ll happily help you arrange the ideal visit for you and your loved ones.

When you book directly with us here on this web site, on the phone, or by email, you’re guaranteed to get the best rates and service.
Keep in mind that the Evergreen re-opens after winter break each year on President’s Day Weekend.

Happy trails!

Evergreen Centennial Gazette Summer Edition

The Evergreen Lodge was originally developed to facilitate building of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley. Though no definitive records exist, spoken history indicates that the Evergreen was founded by a man who worked on the Hetch Hetchy Railroad, which was principally built to haul people and materials to and from the Hetch Hetchy dam construction site. In the early years, the Evergreen was a post office, restaurant and general store. Lore has it that moonshine was brewed in the basement of the lodge during Prohibition.

In the late 1920’s, the Evergreen was purchased by Roy & Stelle Thornton, who built the Main Lodge that we know today. In the mid-1930’s, the lodge was sold to Dan & Angie Rovero of San Francisco. Rovero had previously operated the Groveland Hotel and took over the Evergreen to capitalize on the boom during the construction operation that raised the height of the Hetch Hetchy Dam in the late 1930’s. Business thrived during this period as local workers took advantage of three illegal slot machines.

During this time, the Rovero’s added a Standard Oil gas station in front of the lodge. While the pumps are long since gone, the original gas station still stands today.

In 1952, the Evergreen was sold to Jack & Katherine Garrison, who were friends with and had worked for the Roveros. Under the Garrisons’ ownership, the lodge offered a grocery store, liquor sales, soda fountain, dining room, bar, gasoline, auto repair services and bait & tackle sales, although some cabins still had no running water. One weekend a month in summers, the Garrisons would hire a four-person orchestra to play on the patio, where the General Store now stands.

In 1975, the Evergreen was purchased by John Bargmann, a retired Berkeley fireman. John revitalized the business and added 8 cabins to the 10 that still remained. For the next 25 years, Bargmann’s life revolved around the Evergreen. He met his wife, Kay, at the lodge, married her at Camp Mather’s Birch Lake and raised his kids here too.

We acquired the lodge in late 2001 and since then have re-envisioned, expanded and revitalized the Evergreen, adding 72 cabins, rec center, game room, swimming pool, main plaza and much more. We have since established our innovative, self-funded Youth Employment Program, a unique social impact element of the lodge.

We are proud and excited that the Evergreen and its new sister property, Rush Creek Lodge, now offer all-around lodging and guest experiences unparalleled in the Yosemite area. We hope everyone who stays with us has an amazing visit.

Brian Anderluh & Lee Zimmerman, Owners

100 Ways to Celebrate Our 100th

Lodge staff and guests have compiled a list of 100 Ways to Celebrate Our 100th that includes a mountain of activities for explorers of all ages to enjoy throughout the year. See how many you can tackle! Here are a few to get you started, and this QR code takes you to the full list! If you can’t conquer them all during your stay with us, you can always come back again!

 
Fun at the Lodge

#28 Roast S’mores by the outdoor fire
#9 Explore the Centennial Scavenger Hunt (maps at Rec Desk)
#15 Head to Coyote Hill for an outdoor family movie night
#2 Indulge in hot tub stargazing!
#10 Break par on our Forest Disc Golf Course

 
Memory Lane

#83 Pose for a photo with our historic life-sized cut-outs
#86 Show off your limited edition 100th anniversary keepsake bag – free with your stay!
#87 Share your Happy Birthday message on social media
#88 Get a limited edition 100th anniversary hat or t-shirt in our general store
#90 Post a card to a friend in our historic mailbox, made from railroad ties used on the Hetch Hetchy Railroad and a wood-burning stove chamber that originally warmed the tavern

 
Eat, Drink & Be Merry

#34 Try our take on a 1920’s classic dish, Chicken à la King
#36 Take your Happy Hour to new heights at Hetch Hetchy’s dramatic Lookout Point
#29 Order a “Warren Waffle” in honor of waffle-loving 1921 U.S. President Warren G. Harding
#35 Get the secret password and join one of our speakeasy nights
#32 Enjoy a box of See’s Candy from our store – also celebrating their 100th this year!

 
Out and About in Yosemite

#43 Take a refreshing swim at Carlon Falls
#49 Treat yourself to free Yosemite Park admission – Happy Birthday National Park Service! (August 25)
#52 Retrace history on our Yosemite Valley Stage Coach Road Naturalist Hike
#46 Spot the rainbow in the canyon below the O’Shaughnessy Dam
#44 Enjoy a fun-filled, scenic Bike & Hike to Granite Gorge

Historic Sites Around Evergreen Lodge

Carlon Falls

In 1916, the original Carl Inn was built by Dan and Donna Carlon on the banks of the South Fork of the Tuolumne River. At the time, this was the route of the main road into Yosemite, and the Carl  Inn capitalized on the new found freedom of auto travel. Unfortunately, the location was no match for Mother Nature, with various historic accounts of rebuilding following fire, flood and snow over the years. The Carl Inn was torn down for good in 1940. The hike to Carlon Falls along the South Fork of the Tuolumne River is a local’s favorite. Please visit our Front Desk or Recreation Desk for directions and more details.

 
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

The dam was constructed to provide water and electricity to San Francisco and the Bay Area. The project was completed in 1923 despite vehement opposition from John Muir, a Yosemite Pioneer and founder of the Sierra Club. Muir once stated about the Hetch Hetchy valley that, “no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” Often called the sister of Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy is not to be missed. Whether you are an engineering buff who will marvel at the feat of the O’Shaughnessy Dam or a naturalist exploring the trail to Wapama Falls, we invite you to visit this breathtaking beauty right in our back yard.

 
Peach Grower’s Railroad Grade

This historic railroad tied into the larger Hetch Hetchy Railroad, which helped haul people and goods for the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Simultaneously, Peach Growers operated a mill that made packing crate material and used the rail line for transport to California Central Valley Fruit Farmers. One of the old Peach Growers rails is actually used to hold up the Evergreen’s mailbox! This historic trail is flat but not fancy, so be ready to step over a few logs. It’s a half-mile trail that parallels Evergreen Road, ending at the old the Peach Growers property. Visit our Recreation Desk for all the details.

 
Camp Mather

Now a family summer camp run by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, Camp Mather was originally constructed to house the workers building the O’Shaughnessy Dam. The lake at Camp Mather, now known as Birch Lake, was once a millpond for the logs hauled on the Hetch Hetchy railroad and used as forms for the
new dam.

Did You Know?

In the 40’s, gas at the Evergreen service station sold for a whopping 35 cents per gallon, which was double the price charged in town. That was not nearly as risqué as several illegal slot machines and a bar open until 2AM. Rumor has it these slot machines, hidden behind a false bar wall, were once robbed, but the police were not called as the penalties for gambling were greater than the cost of the heist! Some staff have confessed to finding nickels and dimes from fallen slot machine winnings in the cracks of the Tavern floorboards.

Make yourself at home in the Tavern and look for clues from the past, like burn marks on the floor where a wood- burning stove once stood. This old stove was removed years ago and found new life as the lodge mailbox across the road from the old gas station. Wander through the framed photos of Evergreen’s rich history. Fortunately, much of the Tavern landmarks live to tell colorful tales. It’s up to you to make friends who can fill you in on the secrets…

~Wet your Whistle ~

The Smoking Bandit

A variation on the Roaring 20’s era cocktail The Last Word, a gin-based concoction originally served at the Detroit Athletic Club.

More recently, Evergreen Bar Manager Brandon Smith was intrigued by the modern substitution of Mezcal Tequila for the traditional ‘bathtub gin’ base.  During Prohibition, Americans frequently crossed the southern border into Tijuana where over 100 bars freely sold Mezcal. We imagine that Mezcal was a welcome change from bathtub gin back then, leading to the invention of The Smoking Bandit, an uncommon combination of strong flavors that somehow ended up tasting delicious together.

Combine equal parts:
~ Mezcal ~
~ Green Chartreuse ~
~ Luxardo ~
~ Lime Juice ~
Preparation:
Shake and serve strained up, garnished with a floating Luxardo cherry

 
Mint Julep

The official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938.

“Juleps” have been around for hundreds of years, originally as sweet drinks that were used to administer medicine.  Today we know the Mint Julep as a refreshing Spring treat that has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938, where they still serve about 120,000 Mint Juleps each year.

If you’d like to skip the alcohol, replace the bourbon with club soda or another favorite sparkling water, and enjoy your mocktail!

Ingredients
~ 2 oz bourbon ~
~ 1⁄4 oz simple syrup ~
~ 8 mint leaves ~
~ crushed ice ~
Preparation:
Muddle mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a julep cup, then add bourbon and pack with ice. Swirl contents in cup until it gets frosty, then add more ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint and enjoy!

 

You can try these delicious beverages for yourself at The Evergreen Tavern!

From the Kitchen

Can you imagine a world where no one ever heard of quinoa and kale salads? During the era of speakeasies, flappers and mobsters, celery stuffed with pimento cheese was the height of sophistication and everyone thought flapjacks were the bee’s knees.

A marshmallow roasting fad was spreading throughout summer resort towns across America. Newspapers popularized the marshmallow roasts as an “excellent medium for flirtation” because of the shared experience.  Candy makers soon followed with Mallomars and Moonpies, cousins to the campfire S’mores that officially debuted in a 1927 Girl Scout guidebook. We’re keeping the tradition alive for you each night here at the lodge!

In the spirit of our centennial, you’ll see some fun additions to our menus this year. We’re doing our own take on 1920’s classics like Waldorf Salad, Chicken à la King and Hangtown Fry. Of course, breakfast will feature fancy waffles in honor of 1921 waffle-loving U.S. President Warren G. Harding.

 

Bon appetit!