Yosemite Tent Cabins: A Great Way to Camp With Kids While Saving Your Back

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When my kids were small, my husband and I mini-vanned to state parks, met up with like-minded, nature-loving families, and proceeded to set up all our tents and campfires together.  Yes, those times were fun, but there’s another way to camp, and it is not cheating.

We recently discovered the joys of tent cabins, and the ones at Yosemite’s Curry Village have me convinced that you don’t need to rough it to immerse yourself in creation.  At Curry Village, the semi-permanent canvas tents on wood frames are already set up. Plus, a category called “heated tent cabins” is an even better option for those of us who fear the cold at night.   On a recent sojourn to Yosemite, I was fortunate enough to stay inside one of these units which start at $158 and up per night.  I had eyed them jealously on previous camping trips, and thought to myself, “One day… someday I would like to stay in one of those.”

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Benefits of this type of lodging are multifold. First, as I said before, you are still camping in the great outdoors. Next, these rooms have individual heaters, so you can control the temperature, and your children will be warm.  Third, there is a padlock on the door, so your things are secured.  Inside, you get a bed, chair, pillow, clean cotton sheets, and blankets so you don’t have to bring your own. You can choose from either a single double or up to three beds with a cushy deep memory foam mattress (yes, I said memory foam). Heated tent cabins feature a light, outlets for charging your electronics, and shelving. 

 The A-frame structure is tall enough, I’d say about 10 feet high, so you can walk around.  The space is very spartan. Would have been nice to have a small table inside to play cards, but that’s my only suggestion.  Hooks for your jackets and the steel safe are very useful.  It’s too bad you don’t get wifi, but you get used to it.  When we arrived, the wood plank floor was nicely swept, and all was clean and tidy.

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The tent cabins in this campus compound are grouped together tightly, so you do hear what your neighbor is saying. However, quiet time is 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and I was pleased that other campers adhered respectfully to this schedule.  The two nights we stayed, I slept soundly, and was extremely comfortable with the heater on. The cabin blanket did slip and slide because of its slick fabric.  I wish I had a few large clips to  clasp the blanket to the sheets to keep the blanket from slipping off in the middle of the night.  We had three beds, and it is plenty big for a family of four, even with older kids.

DO’S and DON’Ts
Each morning I woke up happy and refreshed from a good night’s sleep on that precious memory foam.  If I had the time, I would have lived in one of these tents for a week.

Now, to be a good Yosemite citizen, you must adhere to rules such as no bringing food or drink inside. Due to the threat of bears, your edibles and drinkables must be kept in the bear box outside your tent.  If you have coolers, just stash them there.  The metal storage boxes are big enough, so you should not have trouble. You cannot use any appliances inside, either, so leave the tent stove and electric hot water pot at home. 

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Restrooms and showers are walking distance from the tent cabins.  They are constantly cleaned and stocked with paper goods and towels.   You should simply bring your own face towel to clean up in the morning, but isn’t it great that bath towels are provided? That is just less stuff to pack which, to me, makes a big difference in luggage bulk in the long run.

Meanwhile, steps away is the Curry Village grocery store where you can microwave your food and put hot water in your thermos – a big boon if you brought stuff like instant noodles or oatmeal packets.  You can also buy ice here for your cooler, and buy anything you forgot to bring from home such as napkins, a can opener, or whatnot. 

You can also nab some nifty souvenirs like Yosemite branded toys and t-shirts.  On the premises you can enjoy dining al fresco at the picnic tables and take in the scenery.

In fact, the village runs an ice cream shop, pizza parlor, Peet’s Coffee, and a dining room cafeteria.  Do check the schedule for when they close for the season, however.  Very cozy is the Curry Village lounge, an historic cabin for you to come in to read, play board games, or hang out quietly while you gaze at the trees and mountains surrounding you.  The amphitheater where there are occasional ranger talks is around the back. To lodge in Curry Village is very easy with all the amenities you need at hand. Parking is free and plentiful.

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To reserve the tent cabin online requires months of preparation if you go during high season, but if you go in the fall, you have better luck, and that is when we booked our spot. One more word – the staff at Curry Village and the registration desk is friendly and efficient.  When I was unable to walk to the cabin because of a foot injury, one of the staff used the housekeeping golf cart to drive me directly to the tent and help unload all my luggage.

If you need help after hours, every cabin posts the emergency phone number for campers just in case. Now that I’ve tasted the glories of heated tent cabins, I’m hooked. Okay, I suppose I will stay in a non-heated one in the summer. Next time you go to Yosemite or to another state or national park, try something new by booking one of the canvas rooms.  Why? Because sleeping on a soft bed beneath starry skies in the wilderness is magical.  God willing, I will be back!


To make reservations see www.travelyosemite.com