Vacation days are racking up at the office, the kids are on winter break from school: Here are 10 Sierra Nevada lodges where you can ski, hike or skate, but also sit by the fire, play a board game or stream a gripping crime drama. There is also seasonal food to be had, as well as craft beer or a glass of local wine. What are you waiting for?
By Matthew Biker, Katrina Paz, Whip Villarreal and Kathleen Vivaldi
In the dead of winter, after the first snows have blanketed the Sierra Nevada, and the sun sets early into a long and frigid night, many of us begin longing for a seasonal escape. While a white-sand beach and days spent under the tropical sun might be the default vacation, the right setting can turn frosty nights into cozy getaways—and simple comforts to undeniable luxuries.
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
1122 Highway 41, Fish Camp, CA 559-683-6555 • tenayalodge.com (or 888-514-2167 for reservations)
Article featured image of the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. The photo is courtesy of the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.
The Tenaya Lodge at the south entrance of Yosemite Valley blends rustic charm with modern amenities for those looking to enjoy winter, not just escape it. This four-diamond resort makes its home among the sugar pine forests native to the valley, and boasts a variety of newly remodeled rooms: from standard premium rooms starting at $159 a night to luxury, deluxe and honeymoon suites. Individual cottages are also available close to the main resort for all things quiet and comfortable, replete with individual fireplaces, private balconies, and a separate indoor pool and hot tub.
Adventure-lovers will find no shortage of activities for any season, but the cold weather crowd will find unique opportunities like guided snowshoe tours, ice skating and sledding at the resort itself; as well as proximity to skiing and snowboarding in Yosemite proper. In the tradition of classical Christmas coziness, guests can even round off their day with a horse-drawn sleigh ride before returning to the lodge’s Embers or Sierra restaurants for a fireside meal.
And, of course, on days when the snow’s falling a little too heavily outside, or the plush bedding is just a little too snug to leave, guests can stay put: playing cards, soaking in an oversize tub, streaming cable on a flat screen TV. Or they can while away their time at the indoor pool, shopping at the resort retail shops, or even experience a full day of pampering at the Ascent day spa. Child and pet care options are available onsite, and seasonal packages and pricing are offered on Tenaya Lodge’s website.–M.B.
Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite
33160 Evergreen Road, Groveland, CA
209-379-2606 • evergreenlodge.com
Rush Creek Lodge
34001 Highway 120, Groveland, CA
209-379-2373 • rushcreeklodge.com
In the 1920s, when Evergreen Lodge was first established, the notion of “lodging” during the cold winter months had a more utilitarian meaning than it does today. Evergreen now consists of a variety of modern, spacious cabins spread over 20 acres of pine forest at Yosemite Valley’s west entrance. And while the lodge has been updated in the past 100 years, the traditional creature comforts like cast iron fireplaces, feather down pillows and private decks make for a cozy winter getaway.
Evergreen’s cabins range from room-for-two to space for the whole family, and surround the main plaza, where guests will find a rustic tavern setting with a heated patio for breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Daily activities—like snowshoeing or the guided Range of Light tour—put the natural beauty of America’s first protected park land on full display for the adventurous, or those who feel like staying closer to home can book a session with Evergreen’s in-house massage therapists. Before they settle in for the night, guests can find camp classics like s’mores, stargazing and board games at the recreation center in the middle of camp.
If “classic camp” is a little too rustic for a winter vacation, Evergreen Lodge’s nearby sister location—Rush Creek Lodge—caters to those looking for a more familiar resort feel. It only opened its doors last year, making Rush Creek the first new lodge in the area in 25 years. It offers 143 rooms, suites and hillside villas.
While all lodging is complete with modern furnishings, Rush Creek supplies the rooms with streaming radio connections and games instead of TVs to promote an appreciation for the tranquility of the surrounding Yosemite Valley—and to provide guests the chance to truly “get away from it all.”
Both Evergreen and Rush Creek offer special package pricing and seasonal discounts to make planning a trip both comfortable and budget-friendly. Child-friendly activities and holiday events—like the Christmas Day hayride and three-course Old World Christmas Feast—mean that groups, families and couples alike can find a warm welcome on even the coldest days.–M.B.
Rock Creek Lodge
85 Rock Creek Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA
877-935-4170 • rockcreeklodge.com
Looking to get away from all of the ruckus and noise of city life and experience the wonder of the great outdoors, then curl up next to a wood-burning stove inside a cozy log cabin?
Rock Creek Lodge, near Mammoth Lakes, may be your answer.
This lodge is a quiet winter paradise where many generations of visitors have come to enjoy the cross-country skiing, climb to the highest vistas, delight in a peaceful day of fishing at one of the nearby lakes, gaze at the night sky or watch the rosy fingers of dawn touch down on the surrounding mountain peaks.
Driving and cooking will be unnecessary for winter guests wanting a hassle-free experience at a place that boasts intense beauty, vast wilderness, pure solitude and some of the driest snow in the Sierra Nevada. Guests and their gear will be transported via chauffeured snowmobile from their vehicles to the comfort of a warm, wood-fired cabin. Each evening, they will be treated to a five-course gourmet meal complete with fine wines and local microbrews in the lodge’s new dining room. Ski instruction is offered, as well as equipment rentals and an authentic dry-heat, après-ski Finnish sauna.
Visitors have three different types of cabins to choose from for their stay: rustic, mountain or modern, which range in price from $135–$165 per person (children 6–14 are $75–$85; under 6 are free). Cabins vary in size, with the largest accommodating parties of six. Some cabins include private baths and supplied linens; others have shared baths in the heated Shower House and bring-your-own sleeping bags. All cabins offer private bedrooms, separate living areas and kitchen facilities—which are fully usable during summer months, but not in winter, when there is the risk of uninsulated pipes freezing. The lodge provides meals for winter guests, however, and breakfast and dinner are included in the room rates. Wood and kindling are complimentary.
The relaxed atmosphere of this remote lodge is perfect for individuals, couples or families who want a break from their all-consuming gadgets to re-connect with Mother Nature.–W.V.
The Village Lodge
1111 Forest Trail, Mammoth Lakes, CA
760-934-1982 • thevillagelodgemammoth.com
For those who want to experience the ruggedness of the Eastern Sierra Nevada while still enjoying the modern comforts of a top-tier hotel, The Village Lodge provides the best of both worlds.
This resort is located just steps from the best shopping and dining in town, year-round entertainment, gondola rides to view the snowy slopes and shuttle service to all local points of interest. Thirteen retail shops and 11 restaurants—including Campo Mammoth and 53 Kitchen & Cocktails—are located in The Village.
The all-condo resort offers accommodations that range from studio-size to three-bedroom deluxe, complete with full kitchens, wi-fi, and flat screen TVs with DirecTV. Guests also have access to heated pools, hot tubs, a fitness center, arcade and media room.
Visitors traveling with all-electric vehicles will have a place to charge up: The Village Lodge has four charging stations for Tesla vehicles and a universal charging station for all other electric vehicles.
Every corner of this region is packed with activities that can be enjoyed by any age group— whether it’s sledding at a tube park, exploring the back country of the Eastern Sierra on snowmobiles, hiking a snowy trail with snowshoes or skiing the 30+ miles of cross-country terrain.
The Village Lodge has direct access to the Village Gondola, where visitors can get a scenic view at the top of the mountain and enjoy the cafe and interactive museum located there.
Rates vary from $169 to $599 a night, and winter or holiday packages are available (special room pricing with extras such as lift tickets). Some of the privately owned condos on the property—rented through a service like Airbnb—are pet-friendly.–W.V.
The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe
100 Lake Parkway, Lake Tahoe, NV
888-881-8659 • edgewoodtahoe.com
It’s a rare feat to be both sleek and modern as well as warm and welcoming, but the Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe masterly pulls it all together. Primarily known as one of the nation’s top golf courses, Edgewood opened the doors to its lodge this past June, making it the newest property on the lake.
Each of the 154 rooms and suites has its own gas fireplace and private balcony or patio (along with plush robes and slippers). And while the rooms sound like the ideal sanctuary to unwind from a day on the slopes, it’s the lakefront pool and hot tub that are touted as the best places to watch the winter snowfall. The pool area is accented with pristine stone walls, aspens, pines, and an outdoor fireplace. Several fire pits can be found on the surrounding patio as well.
Equally impressive is the Great Room, which was inspired by the grand lodges of the American West. An extension of the lobby area, it greets guests with two-story windows showcasing the lake and features a stone fireplace, as well as intimate enclaves of seating areas.
The lodge is centrally located and within walking distance to Heavenly Village; a complimentary shuttle is also available. One of the area’s more popular events is Heavenly Holidays at Heavenly Village, December 18–31. From Heavenly Village, a gondola ride also provides access to any of the ski areas on Heavenly Mountain, and Edgewood’s onsite Adventure Center offers ski rentals and fittings. Additional nearby activities include sleigh rides, ice skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Guests preferring to stay in can dine at one of three onsite restaurants or get pampered at the 8,500-square-foot spa, complete with Jacuzzi and grand fireplace. Rooms start at $300.–K.P.
Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge
1850 W. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City, CA
530-583-7200 • sunnysideresort.com
Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge overlooks the mountains of the Sierra and sits nestled by the water on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, offering some of the most iconic and beautiful views in the region.
Most people refer to it simply as “Sunnyside,” and this warm and inviting log-style lodge—that has been a Tahoe landmark since the 1950s—has modern, updated, rustic-chic accommodations.
Each of the 23 rooms (several are suites) has a patio or deck with either lake or garden views; some rooms have fireplaces. Continental breakfast and afternoon tea each day are included, as well as free wi-fi and parking.
The establishment is smoke-free, kid-and pet-friendly, and offers an onsite restaurant and bar. In fact, it is part of a family of beach-front restaurants—Duke’s, Jake’s Del Mar, Hula Grill, and Kimo’s, which are all located in Hawaii or Southern California.
Sunnyside’s inviting wood bar and seating area channels this comfortable, laid-back vibe with an expansive lakefront deck, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors facing the lake and mountains. Order drinks, appetizers, and entrees—like a Tahoe Mule, some Petaluma Farm chicken wings and a bowl of corn and crab chowder. Sink deep into relaxation, gazing out onto the glistening lake and snow-capped mountains, after a fun-filled day of skiing, snowboarding or sledding. (Sunnyside has proximity to Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Homewood Mountain Resort and Granlibakken Tahoe.)
After dinner, wrap up in the goose down comforter that is provided in each guest room and watch TV or Netflix on the flat screen. If you’d rather people-watch, go into the lodge and sit on the oversize leather sofas or chairs by the roaring fire in the stone fireplace.
Rates range from $175 to $470 a night. Check the website or call for winter or holiday specials and packages.–K.V.
Cedar Glen Lodge
6589 N. Lake Blvd., Tahoe Vista, CA
530-546-4281 • tahoecedarglen.com
The newly renovated Cedar Glen Lodge is located just steps from the water on the north shore of Lake Tahoe.
The lodge offers cozy cottages, suites and cabin-like rooms, all within walking distance of the lake, shopping and restaurants. Just across the street you can catch free shuttle busses to Northstar and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows ski resorts. Other nearby winter activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, snow-mobiling, ice skating and sleigh rides.
While relaxing in North Lake Tahoe’s winter wonderland, guests can enjoy free wi-fi and parking, including Tesla and universal electric charging stations. There is a heated outdoor pool, spa and sauna, a fitness center and laundry service. Three rooms are available to accommodate pets. The continental breakfast and an evening fire-pit with s’mores are both complimentary.
After spending a beautiful day outdoors, guests can get comfortable and stay onsite to dine. Most rooms have fully stocked kitchens/kitchenettes, so bring groceries, start a fire and cook something tasty in private.
Or bundle up and take the short walk from your room to Cedar Glen Lodge’s wine bar, with oversize leather seating and a roaring fire. Enjoy the warmth of the fireplace with a glass of wine before or after dinner.
Many of the lodge’s rooms, suites and one- and two-bedroom stand-alone cottages have great views of the lake. The exterior log-style architecture flows perfectly with the interior wood floors, plush carpet, granite countertops, fireplaces, and warm blankets to wrap up in—to sit by the fire or sit on the porch looking up at the stars.
Rates are $229–$399 a night, with a two-night minimum stay. Check the website or call for packages and last-minute specials.–K.V.
Harmony Ridge Lodge
18883 Highway 20, Nevada City, CA
530-478-0615 • harmonyridgelodge.com
Living up to its own description of rustic, this quaint little lodge, located 5 miles outside Nevada City, is popular with couples, families and small group gatherings. The fact those groups often consist of book clubs, quilting retreats, yoga gatherings and whimsical weddings paints an apropos image of this forest sanctuary.
Guests at the lodge will discover a down-to-earth mountain locale with an intimate main house adorned with rich wood furnishings. The sitting room features vaulted ceilings, forest views, a piano and an impressive cache of board games. Light breakfast can be enjoyed in the dining area at banquet-style tables.
Guestrooms, located in different buildings, are light and airy and range from $125–$155 a night. Some rooms are dog-friendly, opening up to a fenced part of the property. Keeping with true mountain tradition, there are no televisions. Accommodating innkeepers emphasize there is, however, ample wi-fi coverage for streaming throughout the property.
The grounds, which include a small orchard and secluded seating areas, are worth wandering. The ridge sees an occasional light dusting of snow, but days are generally clear and crisp and ideal for strolls on nearby trails. While most guests make their way down to Nevada City for Victorian Christmas or other events, this little oasis of a neighborhood is set to see a resurgence of activity. In addition to the Harmony Ridge Market, which has a following for its fresh sandwiches and homemade desserts, as well as coffee bar and wine selection, the Ol’ Republic Roadhouse recently opened here. Once the site of the Old 5 Mile House (and historic 19th century stagecoach stop), it’s now operated by the owners of the wildly popular Ol’ Republic Brewery.–K.P.
Chalet View Lodge
72056 CA-70, Portola, CA
530-832-5528 • chaletviewlodge.com
Fifty-one miles north of Truckee and 54 miles northwest of Reno is the boutique resort and spa Chalet View Lodge. The natural beauty of this remote part of the Sierra surrounds the lush grounds of the lodge, but guests will still find modern comforts and plenty to do.
Chalet View offers guestrooms, cabins and villas to accommodate all party sizes. The terrace guestroom is bi-level for privacy and includes a private terrace, flat screen TV with satellite, soaking tub, travertine bathroom with rainfall shower, and ultra soft linens and pillows for the ultimate good night’s sleep.
Quiet and peacefulness surround the one- and two-bedroom rustic cabins. Both sizes offer a full kitchen, separate living room area, private front patio with a barbecue, travertine and slate bathroom (showers only), flat screen TV, soft linens and pillow top mattresses—all surrounded by the aromatic smell of the cabins’ cedar walls or ceilings. (A two-night minimum is required for cabin stays.)
Lastly, the lodge has two- and three-bedroom private villas where guests can lounge in luxury, relax and unwind. Villas include full kitchens, flat screen TVs, vaulted ceilings, and private hot tubs and barbecues on the back deck.
Winter adventure also awaits, conveniently nearby, where guests have an abundance of choices: Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling tours for those wanting to get outdoors; for guests wanting to stay pampered and cozy inside, the lodge’s onsite Murad Inclusive Health Spa offers a full range of services, including massage, facials, body treatments and more.
At the end of the day, guests can choose to dine at the onsite tap room, Eureka Peak Brewing Company, which has 10 craft beers on tap and 20 bottled; it serves pub food and snacks throughout the afternoon and evening and is open year-round. The lodge’s restaurant, Kitchen + Bar, is open daily in summer months and hosts special winter holiday gourmet events, which include four-course dinners using ingredients sourced from the onsite greenhouse. Both the restaurant and brewery offer a warm and casual ambiance.
Rates range from $140 to $235 a night. Guests have free wi-fi and parking; the resort is kid- and pet-friendly. Call or check the website for frequent dining/lodging specials.–K.V.