My road trip travel buddy S. took me by surprise by asking me if I wanted to go along on a three day two night road trip to Yosemite over Thanksgiving. I had no plans for the holiday so of course I said yes. Other than a couple of trips to the Strawberry Festival in the last millennium, I had never hung out in Yosemite for more than a day at a time.
Normally I think we would have tried getting a campsite in the Upper Pines campground (open year around) and brought our own separate gear, but the campground was full over Thanksgiving so he opted to splurge for a heated tent cabin that we could share in Camp Curry.
I had always been curious about staying in Curry Village. I’m not sure about the cabins and other lodging in the complex, but I had always wondered if the tent cabin price was worth it. What could they possibly be offering for $175 a night?
Camp Curry sits among the trees below Glacier Point and Half Dome. The camp has crammed in a lot of tents into this beautiful setting. Location, location, location is what is paid for here. And the heater in the tent.
The tent cabin we were in had a wood floor and plastic/fabric walls. We each had our own single bed with sheets, each with a pillow, a wool blanket, and a lightweight camping comforter. There was one wooden chair, and a shelving unit with a safe attached to it that I never figured out how to use. The tent had more than ample headroom so that even a tall person could stand up in the middle with room to spare.
If you look on the Curry Village website, there are a number of different combinations of tent sizes, number of beds, etc., for singletons, families, heated, unheated …
Curry definitely does not offer the warmest blankets for winter. They suggest you bring your own. I brought two of my warmest blankets from the VW with me and was not at all sorry that they had taken up a third of the back seat on the trip up there. Each guest gets one towel per visit to the showerhouse and no washcloth. Who cares about long wet hair? Or cold feet on the concrete floor? Yes, I should have also brought my own towels, but I made do. The heater in the tent completely dried out my sinuses. And the tents are very close together, so when the neighbors with two or three kids get up at 5am to do god knows what, well, you get up too – unless you opted to bring the suggested earplugs, which I did.
There was no wifi, which I was actually happy about because I wasn’t tempted to work on my photos at night.
I haven’t mentioned the bears yet.
We didn’t see any.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t a concern. Everyone needs to follow the rules about bears while staying anywhere in the park.
NO ONE is supposed to eat ANYWHERE near the tents and each tent has a pretty large bear box to keep ALL food in. This means no late night snacking. Or even before bed snacks! We wanted to picnic for Thanksgiving, so we had to take all the food out of the car, put it in the bear box over night, then carry it all back out to the car in the morning and go find a picnic spot somewhere away from the Village (that actually turned out ok!). The other option is to order food at one of the eateries in the commons area of Camp Curry.
So, you must be asking yourself about now, why would I want to stay in a tent cabin in Curry Village?
There are a few things to staying there that can be ticked off on the Pro list:
It’s right in Yosemite Valley. Location is everything. The tents are already set up and they have locking doors. The beds are comfortable. You can hike to almost all of the trailheads from there if you have the gumption. It gives easy walking access to The Valley at times you wouldn’t normally be there if you were staying outside the park – like sunrise and sunset. Going into the meadow of The Valley for stargazing after dark is an event in and of itself. They do have a showerhouse that doesn’t seem to ever run out of hot water and there is liquid body soap and shampoo in the showers. There is a general store, which was closed every time I went to check it out. A Peet’s Coffee will freely give hot water so you can make your own hot water things, like tea or miso soup. And there are a couple of cafes and a bar. It’s a step up from camping for about two or three times the price. But it’s still less expensive, with fewer -almost none of the – amenities, than Yosemite Lodge or The Ahwahnee Hotel.
Tips for staying at the Tent Cabins in Curry Village:
- Bring your own blankets or heavy duty sleeping bag in winter.
- Bring your own towels and wash cloths and toiletries, unless one towel is ok for you.
- Bring as little food as possible. I brought a lot of food ONLY because it was Thanksgiving.
- If you do bring food, be prepared to completely empty the car and use the bear box – which is not temperature controlled so things will freeze in there if the temperature drops.
- Take earplugs for sleeping – seriously.
That said, we found ways to enjoy our stay at Curry Village. It’s always good to try something at least once.
But in the end, I think I’d rather bring my own gear and camp.