"This post contains affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you if you click on one of the product links, we may earn a commission. We were guests of Tenaya Lodge, but as always all opinions are our own.”
If you’ve ever tried to book accommodations at or near Yosemite, you’ll quickly learn that options are limited if you aren’t keen on camping. We aren’t huge fans of camping but wanted to stay someplace where we felt like we were still close to nature. When we discovered the Explorer Cabins at Tenaya Lodge, we knew we found exactly what we were looking for.
Tenaya Lodge is a gorgeous resort with a variety of lodging options from traditional hotel rooms, cottages and cabins. We wanted to stay at their newest accommodations in the Explorer Cabins as it was a great fit for us since we were traveling with a group of six people.
We both flew into Fresno Yosemite International Airport, which is the closest airport to the park. We rented a car and the drive was about an hour and a half to Yosemite National Park. Tenaya Lodge’s Explorer Cabins are located right outside the South entrance of the park (about 2.5 miles) in a town called Fish Camp and it’s pretty hard to miss.
The drive was pretty straight forward and the signs for both Tenaya Lodge and the Explorer Cabins were large and visible. We stayed in the Explorer Cabins which was located right next door to the Tenaya Lodge resort. Tenaya Lodge is 48 miles from Fresno, 3.5 hours from the San Francisco Bay Area, and 4.5 hours from the Greater Los Angeles area.
We were welcomed by the friendly staff as soon as we pulled up to the driveway of the hotel. The valet let us know that we could leave the car in the front while we checked in and we walked into a beautiful lobby with a grand piano in the center. There was also a wonderful fragrance that lingered in the lobby which was a nice touch.
When we checked in, the staff thoroughly explained all of the resort’s amenities and Karla gave us a quick tour of our Explorer Cabin. Karla was so friendly and welcoming that we immediately knew we were in good hands.
The Explorer Cabin
The details in the cabin were top notch from the oil rubbed bronze lights and door fixtures to porcelain beveled shower tiles. We stayed in a two-bedroom cabin (650 square feet) and each room was equipped with its own air conditioning unit with temperature controls. Being able to adjust each room to our individual needs was much needed and appreciated. Each cabin is welcomed with two souvenir water bottles and a s'mores kit.
We could not have been happier with our accommodation. Our cabin was surrounded by nature and nestled among a fishing pond, beautiful creek, and incense cedars. It felt like we were miles away from civilization. The Explorer Cabins offered the best of both worlds; we had the rustic outdoor experience, but we were also just steps away from luxurious offerings from the resort.
The spacious living room had a plush sleeper sofa (double-sized bed), an accent chair and Pendleton blankets. There was a coffee table with drawers and inside them were some fun games like UNO and Monopoly. We were so excited that they provided UNO cards because Crystal actually forgot to bring her own. We played UNO every night with our friends and had a blast!
The living room also had a fireplace that was easy to turn on with a switch of a button and the lights and AC had a convenient remote control. There were also beautiful photographs on the wall that gave a glimpse into the region’s history. We really appreciated the thoughtful wilderness accessories like the hiking sticks, binoculars, and flashlight.
The kitchen had a Keurig stocked with coffee pods, tea and creamers. The refrigerator was a generous size and we were able to fit in all of our left over food along with bottles of water and beer. There was also a microwave and plenty of cups, dishes and silverware. The kitchen also had a beer and wine opener which definitely came in handy!
We stayed in the Premium Explorer Cabin which had two bedrooms and each bedroom had its own TV and closet. The master bedroom had a king size bed and the second bedroom had a queen size bed. The master bedroom had a private deck that overlooked the meadows and had two comfy red rocking chairs. It was such a great place to unwind after a day of adventure. We loved hanging out on the deck and spent quite a bit of time out here just relaxing and listening to the various sounds of nature that surrounded us.
There was one bathroom and we were a bit worried that it would be an issue between the six of us, but it ended up being just fine. The bathroom was stocked with plenty of towels and toilet paper. It was even well stocked with Q-tips, cotton, soap, shampoo, conditioner and body wash. If we ever needed anything, the front desk was always friendly and quick to accommodate our needs.
Explorer Cabin Amenities
Wristband Key Entry
Instead of having a room key, we were provided a wristband that was essentially the same as a key card that accessed our room and all of the amenities on the property. We LOVED wearing the bracelet instead of trying to find our room key in our pocket or purse. Not once did we run into that common question, “Who has the key to the room?” Of course, if you prefer the good ‘ol key card, they provide that too.
Complimentary breakfast is included for all registered Explorer Cabin guests and we enjoyed their breakfast buffet every morning. The buffet has several stations serving hot and cold foods including pastries, charcuterie, cheese, fruits, eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, pancakes and more. We’re usually not big on breakfast buffets but this one was exceptional. We want to note how much we appreciated their scrambled eggs. Usually at complimentary breakfast buffets, the scrambled eggs have an odd taste as its most likely made from artificial eggs that come from a box. This definitely was not the case at Tenaya and we could tell that the eggs were fresh and the texture was perfect. If you don’t like scrambled eggs, they also served boiled eggs.
WiFi (High Speed Internet)
Although we would like to be completely free from technology, there were times we needed to access the web for information and for work. We were pleasantly surprised at how strong the WiFi signal was throughout the property. Especially in our cabin, the WiFi speed was fast and it was actually faster than the speed I have at home. There was no need for a password so gaining access to WiFi was super easy.
Between 4PM-5PM there was complimentary wine and beer everyday, which was a great way to unwind, relax, and meet some of the other guests staying in the cabins. The wine and beer were both tastings from local wineries and breweries, which was nice to try handcrafted selections instead of mass produced products. One of the craft beers that was served was the Tenaya Red IPA which is exclusively brewed for the resort by South Gate Brewing Company.
Happy Hour would normally be held in the Club House, but since the Club House was under construction (due to open October 2019) there were temporary tents set up with games with an awesome lounging area. Once the Club House is complete, it will be a beautiful 1,800 square foot lounge that will offer grab-and-go breakfast items in the morning and other refreshments.
Communal Fire Pits & S’mores
Our cabin came with a couple of cute s’mores kits which we took full advantage of. There are several fire pits throughout the property and everything is ready for you to start roasting your marshmallow. We met other cabin guests when we were roasting our s’mores and had a great time ending the night chitchatting with our new friends.
Amenities Available at the Main Lodge
There is nothing like getting pampered after a long day of hiking. The spa is a massive 10,000 square feet and is Silver LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It features 12 treatment rooms, three relaxation rooms, a wellness center and fitness room. You can also enjoy the eucalyptus steam room or sauna free of charge. It’s super relaxing and a great way to rejuvenate. If you’d like to get a tour of the spa, one of the staff members will happily show you around as they did for us.
Indoor and Outdoor Pools
Tenaya Lodge has three outdoor pools, including a kid's pool with water features and a new adults-only relaxation pool. They even have an outdoor bar where you can order drinks and food. Plus, you can enjoy family-friendly movies by the pool in the evenings. There’s also an indoor pool during the cold months. We’ll definitely have to check out the pool next time as it’s complete with underwater music. How cool is that?
The fun Game Room features a shuffleboard, pool, air hockey, video games, board games and evening popcorn.
Tesla Supercharger Stations
If you own a Tesla or other electric vehicle, you’re in luck because Tenaya Lodge provides eight Tesla Supercharger Stations. The Superchargers deliver a half charge in as little as 20 minutes.
In addition to the amenities mentioned above, Tenaya Lodge also has a kids adventure club, complimentary morning yoga, mountain biking, sledding, Yosemite bus tours, and more. We didn’t have time to enjoy everything they had to offer but we did take advantage of a few of their activities.
Guided Nature Walk
We like taking tours and learning more about our surroundings and were so glad we participated in the guided nature walk through the Sierra National Forest. Our guide’s name was Ethan and we absolutely loved him. You could just tell he had a passion for the outdoors and he even shared with us a handful of his crazy adventures. Well, crazy to us and probably normal to him. We were quite fascinated by his bear encounters and his knowledge of the forest.
He showed us where we could find some gold and even got to taste some wild berries. We learned about one of the bears that’s in the area and they named him Boo Boo. We were hoping to see him, but he was not around at the time we walked by his den. This one hour and fifteen minute tour was about 1.5 miles of forest trails and we left directly “on foot” from the hotel. The walk was relatively easy which was great since we wanted a nice and easy stroll through the forest. There are a ton of adventure activities at Tenaya so if you want to explore more, they have a variety of activities to choose from.
We weren’t sure if we were going to be good enough for archery, but wanted to give it a shot. Surprisingly, it was very easy to learn how to set up our bow and arrow and the hardest part was keeping our arms up and pulling back the bow string.
We initially thought that a 30-minute session was pretty short, but after just 15-minutes our arms were pretty sore. We decided to take turns in between so we could give our arms some rest. We had a great time becoming masters of the bow!
Just steps away from our cabin was the Explorer Trail which was a beautiful shaded hike around the property with a running creek. The soothing sounds of the running water and the peaceful surroundings was such a fun and relaxing way to explore the area.
We came across a beaver dam and spotted huge holes they dug up around it’s home. We appreciated the red lawn chairs throughout the trails and utilized them to relax, enjoy some drinks and chat with our friends. We also spent some time splashing around in the creek skipping some rocks (or trying to). We even saw some dogs enjoying the creek which made us wish our fur babies could join us too.
Depending on the season, there are a handful of dining options on the property. We went during the low season, which was right after Labor Day weekend, so we had a couple of choices: Jackalopes Bar and Grill and Embers. We opted to dine at Jackalopes Bar and Grill since they had a variety of dishes and the atmosphere was more casual compared to Embers which was an upscale restaurant.
We had all three of our meals at Jackalopes and we enjoyed every one of their dishes which offered locally grown, sustainable, and organic items. We were initially worried that we would get tired of eating at the same restaurant for three days, but they served up a variety of dishes from casual pub fare to more robust entrees so the choices were plentiful.
If you are in the mood for some light snacks, there is a small convenience shop next to Jackalopes that sold items on-the-go like coffee, water, protein bars, wine, cheese and a variety of light snacks.
We love that Tenaya Lodge is dog-friendly and it’s a fantastic place for your pet to enjoy the outdoors with you. We saw several dogs on the property and even saw one hopping around in the water when we were relaxing by the creek. You’ll be amazed at how much your dogs will get pampered here. Tenaya will make sure your fur baby is a VIP guest with amenities like house-made gourmet doggie treats (including the recipe), two-hour pet sitting services, plush pet beds, and more. Next time I’ll have to bring my little Zooey and spoil her!
The Explorer Cabins was the perfect place to create memories with our friends and we had the best of both worlds from the perks of the modern amenities to the great outdoors. The “cabineering” experience combined the comforts of a modern cabin and the perks of a full-service resort. We’re really hoping we can come back in the spring or winter as every season is a different experience at Tenaya Lodge.