The Plushest Yosemite Vacation You’ll Ever Take, in Three Steps

You have time for one amazing camping trip before all the holiday madness

yosemite
The perfect Yosemite long weekend awaits.
Ryan Pastorino/Getty
By Diane Rommel / November 14, 2019 8:32 am

Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The Four-Hour Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.

In T-minus 15 days, your life is going to be one, long descent into holiday mayhem, from Thanksgiving (gotta love flying on the busiest day of the year) straight to New Year’s Day. (It’s on a Wednesday. Here’s hoping you get the rest of the week off.) 

Between now and then: two precious weekends. Why not steal away for three days of plush lodging and four-star eats, with the best of Yosemite all within arm’s reach? 

Here’s your itinerary. And good news: temps this weekend will be pleasantly warm during the day (65-ish) and seriously cold at night (32-ish), making those s’mores an absolute necessity. 

Autocamp Yosemite
(Autocamp Yosemite)

WHERE TO STAY

What to do when you want to camp but not, like, camp-camp — especially as overnight lows tumble toward freezing? Autocamp Yosemite (you may recognize the name from the brand’s original location at the Russian River) opened up earlier this season with completely fitted-out Airstreams and cabins, communal fire pits and bathrooms that represent a galactic upgrade on whatever we usually use while camping. 

Skydive Yosemite
(Skydive Yosemite)

EXPLORE

If you’ve only been to Yosemite in the summer, the off-season is a revelation: cool, sunny, crisp, with often ideal hiking conditions. (Or non-stop rain. It’s a coin toss.) And those packed parking lots? They’re half-empty. You’ve probably already hiked the park, so check in on a favorite — like a quick tour of Mirror Lake — or reach out to the local guides at SYMG to see what they have on offer. Mainly, it’s time to see the park from a different vantage point: 14,000 feet. Skydive Yosemite will provide views of the Yosemite Valley all the way down, while Airborrn flightseeing tours supply basically the same sights with less of the terror/adrenaline. 

Elderberry Kitchen
(Instagram/@chateausureau)

WHAT TO EAT & DRINK

Since we’re keeping it luxe, head a half-hour southeast to the Chateau du Sureau, a Relais & Chateaux property with a renowned restaurant, the Elderberry Kitchen. Expect local/seasonal, like butternut squash soup with an autumn seed medley — or Brandt Farm Beef Wellington with wild mushroom and mustard greens. If you want the same vibe, closer to home, and slightly more relaxed, try Savourys, in Mariposa, with a notably meat-heavy menu, including no fewer than five takes on the steak.