As electronics consume more of our kids’ time, many families are searching for a way to incorporate nature into the mix. Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite National Park is like family camp, with comfortable accommodations, good food and a recreation department that makes it easy for families at all activity levels to experience the beauty of the park and the surrounding area. The huge bonus for parents is the adult downtime that comes naturally as kids run off and play in the resort’s very safe-feeling environment.
Evergreen Lodge was built in 1921—the same timeframe as the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley nearby, which supplies San Francisco with its drinking water. Through owner changes and lodging additions, Evergreen Lodge grew into a simple yet upscale resort that caters to guests who want a nature experience without sacrificing comfort and amenities.
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Evergreen Lodge is comprised of a variety of one- and two-bedroom cabins scattered throughout the forest. Family cabins are ideal with kids, offering two separate bedrooms (including one with twin beds) and a pullout sofa in the living room. Smaller one-room cabins have a queen bed and bunk beds. Many cabins are positioned near some sort of outdoor activity, which allows parents to sit on the porch and keep an eye on the kids.
Cabins have refrigerators, but in order to discourage curious wildlife there are no cooking facilities or communal barbecues. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the Main Lodge; during summer, additional dining options open up at the pool area. Guests can also drive 10 minutes to Evergreen Lodge’s sister property, Rush Creek Lodge, which has two restaurants plus a new pool bar.
Evergreen Lodge is a hit with families because it offers so many complimentary activities onsite, ranging from life-size chess boards and climbing walls to ziplines and a resort-style pool. There are also Ping-Pong tables, an indoor game area, nightly s’mores and a relaxing lodge with fireplace for board games and reading. The WIFI is located here as well. Having something for everyone to do ensures a no-complaining vacation.
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There are many things to love about Evergreen Lodge, but the staff at the recreation department has to be at the top of the list. They help families experience the outdoors and tailor hikes and activities to the ages and interests of the group. Evergreen Lodge is known for having great outdoor guides and they are as helpful when families take guided excursions as when they choose to do things on their own. I’d recommend a mix of both, as there are some interesting excursions that aren’t easy to do independently. Recommended excursions and activities vary by season.
We chose a four-hour guided hike to Wapama Falls, perfect for our spring visit (it’s too hot in summer). On our own, this hike could have turned ugly as the day heated up and the time lengthened. But thanks to a guide who works often with families and is used to being peppered nonstop with questions, all ended well. My kids, who usually don’t hike more than two hours at a time, said our guide made the hike fun, but otherwise it would have been too long.
On day two, we chose a self-guided hike to nearby Carlon Falls, which we knew would be shady and a manageable two to three hours with lunch. While the kids initially balked at another day of hiking, their attitudes quickly changed—scampering over rocks and logs, a gorgeous waterfall and a yummy packed lunch from the lodge captured their interest.
For families not used to longer outdoor excursions and hiking, it’s all in the planning, and the recreation staff at Evergreen Lodge is very adept at helping parents figure the logistics out. They also offer fly fishing and a combination hike, bike and swim at nearby Rainbow Pools, which looks fantastic for a bit of variety.
Evergreen Lodge is off Highway 120 on the route from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, about 15 to 20 minutes from the Big Oak Flat entrance and about 45 to 60 minutes from the Valley Floor. Set back seven miles from the highway, the lodge is nestled in the woods.
Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino received a media package to experience Evergreen Lodge, but as always our opinions are our own. Photos by Kristi Marcelle except where noted.
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