The Best Lodging Outside Yosemite: Evergreen Lodge

'The Plaza' at Evergreen Lodge, an outdoor gathering spot for meeting friends and hanging out with the family. Lovely!

This is the first in a series of posts about my stay at Evergreen Lodge located half a mile outside of the entrance to Yosemite National Park.  It was written about an hour after I arrived.  I will be posting a second review, written after my stay, as well as a dining review.

After an admittedly amazing week in San Francisco, I cannot tell you how happy I am to have come here, to Evergreen Lodge right outside of Yosemite.

One of the charming 'Vintage Cabins' original to the property, lovingly restored.

Evergreen Lodge is stunning and silent.  I’m writing this on the deck of my cabin, which looks out over an endless expanse of yes, you guessed it, evergreens.  I can hear the waterfall at Hetch Hetchy in the not so distant distance; it is less than three miles up the road.  Aside from that and the chirping of birds, that is literally all that I can hear.

Evergreen is one of the most unique places I’ve ever stayed—second only to perhaps Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (but far more beautiful.  Sorry Disney.)  The lovely people at the reception desk took me on a little tour of the facility and proudly told me of its history.  Evergreen began its life as a work camp for the people working on the damn at Hetch Hetchy.  Over the years it has been many things—a gas station, a post office—and eventually was purchased by the current owners and became this lovely lodge.

The original cooler sits behind the bar in the tavern, storing things like fresh lemongrass for the signature cocktails. Mmm!

But Evergreen isn’t really a lodge; it is more of a modern take on a campground; the landscaped grounds are dotted with cabins featuring modern bathroom facilities, large sitting areas, and private decks.  Some of the cabins are original to the property but have been lovingly restored, as are many of the main buildings. It is truly the best combination of old and new that I’ve ever seen—you get all of the charm of an old-timey campground with none of the downsides (there’s not a pit toilet in sight!) The tavern—a very important part of any lodge in my opinion—even contains an original cooler that is so old parts have to be custom made for it whenever it needs to be repaired.

But this is not to say that Evergreen is showing its age.  Even the ‘vintage’ cabins are charming and clean (and feature private baths), and newer, larger, more modern cabins have been added as well—which is the type of cabin I’ll be enjoying for the next few nights.  It’s about the size of my first apartment, with a sitting area, a mini fridge, a little gas stove for the winter and many brand new windows with screens for the summer.  The bathroom is huge and new and clean as can be, and there’s even a little mud room shelf area inside the doorway for all of your gear.  Oh—and there’s also the sliding door leading to the little private deck that I think I already mentioned.  But I’ll mention it again—there’s a little private deck with Adirondack chairs for two and a tree stump table.  My only regret is that I didn’t bring a citronella candle (I suppose I should regret not bringing my husband to enjoy it with me—but no, I’ll just take the candle thank you very much!)

The deck of my cabin at Evergreen Lodge--ahhh! This is the life!

Additionally, there’s a super-awesome little camping area for those looking for a budget lodging option.  For a very reasonable rate, solo travelers, couples, or families can rent one of the pre-set-up tents, featuring seating areas, hammocks, and extremely convenient restroom facilities (I mean, even I would be ok with this, and my camping days are long past).  It’s like the resort version of camping—everything is already there for you.  There are even little ‘room’ numbers on wooden posts.
The folks here at Evergreen have truly thought of everything.  From the general store that offers everything from locally made baked goods to bottles of wine, to the luggage wagons available to help guests transport their luggage a very short distance to their cabins, there’s nothing you could want for here.

And speaking of wanting– the things that people did want, Evergreen added.  In the past year, improvements have been made to the camping area, a guest laundry has been added, and an entire pool complex has been built.  I was fortunate enough to see this new pool area—featuring a pool bar serving drinks and light snacks—the very day it was filled for the first time and I have to say, were I visiting a few weeks from now when the weather gets warmer, I’d have a hard time leaving the grounds to enjoy the park.  Or, rather, I’d be sure to stay an extra night just to be able to enjoy a slower-paced Yosemite visit, with a little pool time thrown in after a long morning hike.  I mean come on-doesn’t that sound lovely?

The absolutely gorgeous new pool area, complete with pool bar, snack stand, restrooms and meeting space.

And speaking of lovely–a hawk just soared past my deck.  Like twenty feet from me.  And I didn’t have my camera, but that’s ok.  I’ll remember it.

After a harrowing way-too-long journey from San Francisco (it took me almost an hour just to get to the Bay Bridge in construction traffic, and I may have actually cried at one point during that portion of the drive) it took me exactly five minutes to relax here at Evergreen.  And that is truly saying something.  Additionally, it only took me another hour to get used to the fact that my phone doesn’t even try to work here.  I’m completely unplugged—and not freaking out about it (well maybe I freaked out about it a little—even though the main building does have some spotty wifi and computers available 24 hours per day.  I’m a connectivity junkie, ok?)

Overall, I’ve never had a place make such a great first impression.  And that’s impressive, coming from someone at the end of a pretty great trip.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sunset to enjoy.

DISCLAIMER: The lovely people at Evergreen Lodge (and they are quite lovely) provided me one night’s stay free of charge and two additional nights at a reduced media rate in exchange for blog coverage of their facility.  Of course, all opinions are always my own.  And my opinion is—wow this place is way nicer than the website even makes it out to be!  And I’m so glad because I have to admit, I was a little scared coming all the way out here by myself.  But I’m already so glad that I did.  Stay tuned for post two—the three-nights-later verdict!

Evergreen Lodge is located seven miles down lovely Evergreen Road, right off of 120 which runs through the middle of Yosemite National Park; it is less than four miles from Hetch Hetchy and the turnoff for Evergreen road is less than a mile from the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park.  For more information, including details about Evergreen’s fantastic Guided Recreation Program, please visit Evergreen Lodge’s website.

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