California Vacation 2011: Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

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We woke up bright and early our first morning in Tuolumne Meadows. Neither Jason nor I slept very well, but at least it wasn’t due to the cold (neither of us were remotely cold until the hour before we got up). Since we were pretty much awake, getting up at 6:00am to start our day was not difficult.

Once we were cleaned up, we headed over to the dining room for breakfast. It was much less crowded for breakfast, although we were there right when they started serving. At the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, there were basically two breakfast options:

High Country Breakfast
Two Eggs Any Style
Bacon or Link Sausage
Breakfast Potatoes of the Day
Toast or Pancakes or French Toast
Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, Milk, or Juice

Continental Breakfast Buffet
Oatmeal with Raisins & Brown Sugar
Assorted Cold Cereals w/Milk
Fresh Fruit, Assorted Muffins and Danish
Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, Milk or Juice

You could also order any of the items a la carte, but it wasn’t cheap to separate anything out. That first morning, Jason went with the High Country Breakfast and I did the Buffet. Both were great, but we were especially impressed with the pancakes Jason had with his order. They were huge!

We ate with an assortment of people that morning, including a couple from North Carolina and a retired couple who volunteer with a resort in the nearby national forest. Then there was the “small world” component of our day – another dining companion was from La Crosse, WI. Apparently, we can’t visit Yosemite without running into someone from Wisconsin. (Last summer, it was a couple from a town 10 minutes away from where we live.)

We didn’t fail to catch some early morning shots of the river and cascade.

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is part of the High Sierra Camp system. Our original reservation was to stay here one night, the night before we were to leave on our five-day loop trip. When that was cancelled, space was reserved for our entire time in the High Country. We could take all of it, some of it, or none of it. We took three nights.

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

The side of the main building.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tent cabins
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge has 69 tent cabins (at least according to their website; according to our camp map, there are 70), and besides the cement floor (vs wood) and the lack of electricity, the cabin was just like the one we stayed in last summer in Curry Village. For any of you skeptics out there, I want you to know that the tent cabins are extremely comfortable. The accommodations are great and it’s a perfect way to experience the national park.

Our “home” for our Yosemite stay.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Four beds (with linens), table, chair
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Wood-burning stove
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Wood bucket filled every day. We did buy more from the store down the road in order to keep the fire going all night.
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

There are a lot of great day hikes in the Tuolumne Meadows area, but spending time at the Lodge is equally nice. That first afternoon, Jason and I found a sunny spot alongside the river to relax for awhile. We hung out there until we got too warm – the heat off the granite can get intense!

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Can’t go wrong with that view!
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Another neat thing about Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is the nightly bonfire. They build that sucker really well with huge hunks of wood. While s’mores kits are available, the fire is a bit much to easily roast the marshmallows.

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

From our perspective, there was only one major negative about our stay: the communal bear lockers.

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

As Jason and I were going to store our toiletry bags the first night – the only items we needed to store in the bear locker – we encountered a major challenge. They were all stuffed full! People had full-size coolers in there, large Rubbermaid totes, and full shopping bags taking up the entire space. I don’t know how many we opened before we found just enough room for our two small bags.

While we came to understand the coolers, we were still a little miffed about the lack of space. I wanted it noted how minimalistic I was 🙂

For anyone ever staying at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, please be considerate. The name of the game is sharing.


As I wrote this up, I glanced at the list of High Sierra Camp tentative open/close dates for 2011. We were scheduled to visit Vogelsang, Merced Lake, and Sunrise Camps. While Merced Lake should have opened this week, Vogelsang and Sunrise won’t be open for awhile. Vogelsang, where we were supposed to stay on July 20th, is now scheduled to open on August 13th. Sunrise, where we were to stay on July 23rd, won’t open until August 20th!! Yes, it has been a record year out there  🙁


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4 thoughts on “California Vacation 2011: Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

  1. S Hayden

    Thanks for the great pictures of your stay in Tuolomine Meadows. We’re heading up there someday.
    Re the bear lockers, from what the Yosemite site posts, it’s illegal to leave any food, or items smelling of food or any strong scent in a car overnight, as the bears come looking. So they have a chart that shows how big a cooler you can put in a bear locker, so that your car doesn’t get opened like a tin can, when a bear tries to follow the food.

    Thanks again.



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