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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Tips for happy Yosemite camping

Not all campsites and hotels in Yosemite have the same allure, and neither do the waterfalls and gas stations. With these tips, you can boost your luck and dodge some unwanted surprises.

By Christopher Reynolds

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 24, 2007

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INSIDER TIPSIn Yosemite, summer books up faster than other seasons, and weekends faster than weekdays. Here are some secrets.COOL IT

No matter where you're staying, you can pay a day-use fee to get into the Yosemite Lodge pool. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it's $5 for an adult, $4 for a child.

TRICKED OUT

The hottest ticket in Curry Village is Specialty Cabin 819, a.k.a. the Foster Curry Cabin. This is the Yosemite retreat of your dreams, from its stone fireplace to the atmospheric old photos on the walls to the 32-inch flat-screen monitor and DVD player. It goes for $249 nightly and can be specifically reserved — if you reserve early.

WONDER-FALL

The Housekeeping Cabins along the Merced River are rustic— shared bathrooms and showers — but sites 230A and 231A are beach-adjacent with views of Yosemite Falls. Sites 391J and 392J are also prime spots with great scenery. (You can't specifically reserve these units, but you can request them.)

OUTSIDE CHANCE

If you can't land a campsite, cabin or hotel room you like in Yosemite Valley, some lodgings outside the park (the Yosemite View Lodge and Cedar Lodge in El Portal, for instance) are much closer than some lodgings inside the park.

DECKED OUT

The Ahwahnee Hotel has more than 70 "standard" rooms, all priced at a hefty $426 per night, but if you request Rooms 444 and 450 — you can only request them, with no guarantees — you might share a private deck with a view of Yosemite Falls. Rooms 502 and 507, also "standard," share a smaller deck on the hotel's opposite side, with a view of Half Dome.

INFORMALLY YOURS

The Ahwahnee's dining room, above, has been quietly loosening up the last few years. Men don't need jackets for dinner anymore, a spokesman says, as long as they're wearing a shirt with a collar, pants made of something dressier than denim, and shoes, not sandals or sneakers. (It's more casual for breakfast and lunch.) Dinner entrees run $20 to $39.

ROOM SERVICE

As family plans change, hotels and campgrounds get lots of cancellations. If you don't get the site you want on the first try, don't assume that it's gone forever.