Yosemite with the Grandkids—Camping or Comfort?


My husband and I just spent three glorious days in Yosemite celebrating our 41st anniversary. The last time we were there was August 1983 when we took our daughter and son on a family “outing.”  My husband has always joked that there’s a difference between a “family outing” and a “vacation.”  A vacation is without kids!

In 1983 our kids were 13 and 10. We all had fun rafting down the Merced River and took some beautiful hikes. But our four nights in a tent cabin were not something we wanted to repeat. We slept on concrete platforms that hung from the walls and endured the nightly ritual of people calling out “Elmer!” well into the evening. I remember wishing we had camping gear so we could have cooked our own meals and been more “at one” with nature.

I’m sorry I let three decades go by before returning to this national treasure. I suspect that my first experience in the tent cabins had something to do with the long hiatus. Now I realize that there are many ways to enjoy the magic of Yosemite.  Some of us just aren’t “campers”—my husband being one of them. His idea of camping is Motel 6! For those who enjoy the comfort of a bed, and want to stay in the Park, there’s Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. We had a room with a view of Yosemite Falls and fell asleep to the sounds of the water crashing over the falls. During this visit I vowed to return next year and see more of the Park.

I noticed a lot of grandparents with their grandchildren and thought I’d love to share this magical place with my two granddaughters. But I wonder how old they need to be to appreciate Yosemite. I saw children of all ages, some being carried, and others hiking on their own.

My daughter and son-in-law are “camping” people. They hiked Half Dome and backpacked together before they had children. My granddaughters are lucky—they’ll have a chance to go camping with their parents in a few years and get the experience of truly being out in nature. And maybe when they get older, we’ll take them to see Yosemite the “comfortable” way!


  1. says

    My husband and I also recently revisited Yosemite after a hiatus of 25 years. We opted for the tent cabins both times. I had good memories of them the first time, but we didn’t enjoy them as much this time. When we were there 25 years ago, we were still vigorous enough to go all day and just come back to the cabin for sleeping. This time we could only hike for a couple of hours before we were ready to go back to camp, but sitting in a tiny tent cabin with no view isn’t much fun. Next time I think we’ll opt for plusher accommodations!