Rush Creek Lodge in Yosemite National Park
Apr 24, 2017 11:00AM
By Kimberly Horg
In the Land of the Giants
Story by Kimberly Horg
Photos courtesy of Rush Creek Lodge & Kim Carroll
World-famous scenic views like Half Dome, El Captain and Cathedral Rock, waterfalls and miles of spectacular trails are life-changing to see firsthand. Whether it is hiking, bicycling, fly fishing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, swimming, scenic tours, picnicking, camping or stargazing at night, Yosemite National Park has something for everyone.
Thousands of years ago, when American Indians first settled in Yosemite Valley, natives experienced the same natural beauty that visitors still see today. President
Abraham Lincoln signed a grant to protect the land forever. Yosemite was one of the first territories preserved for its beauty.
It was in 1864 when Congress passed legislation to preserve Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley, two popular areas of the park. The Valley has various trails, shops and places to grab a bite to eat as well as an authentic Indian Village. Visitors can stroll down the path and view the teepees and an Indian ceremonial house to learn about the history as they walk back in time.
Mariposa Grove is being restored now to preserve the historic giants so visitors can enjoy them hundreds of years from now. It is expected to open this fall.
Mariposa Grove is the largest of three ancient groves within Yosemite, and it's home to around 500 Giant Sequoia trees, the largest living species in the world.
The Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias are still open and are just a few minutes away from Rush Creek Lodge, which opened last summer and is the first new lodge to open in Yosemite in more than 25 years. It’s a modern take on the classic National Park experience.
“People are thrilled to have this new addition to the Yosemite landscape. We receive a constant stream of emails from guests writing to share their excitement and gratitude for a rewarding experience,” Rush Creek Public Relations Officer Teri Marshall says.
Rooms are rustic yet modern, decorated with custom artwork by local sawmill owner Phill Pritchard. He paired wood from Rush Creek’s property with reclaimed wood he has collected over the years to create the furniture and big statement pieces like the wall behind the front desk.
“Rush Creek Lodge is designed to make it easy for just about anyone to have an ideal Yosemite getaway,” Marshall says. “We’re keeping traditions alive, such as nightly s’mores by the outdoor fire, and at the same time serving gourmet food, fine wine, craft beers and signature cocktails in our restaurant and tavern.”
Guests can relax in the pool area, or join in any number of activities including nature crafts, wilderness talks, games, live music and more. Rush Creek offers tours and adventures led by personable guides who are excited to share their knowledge of Yosemite. For guests who prefer to adventure on their own, the lodge a has recreation team to provide free planning advice.
Lee Zimmerman, Rush Creek co-owner, says he wants the guests to be so blown away by their experience with Rush Creek, they don’t want to leave.
Rush Creek’s location at the Highway 120 West entrance to Yosemite makes a good launching point for exploring three iconic sections of the Park: Yosemite Valley, Yosemite’s High Country, and the Hetch Hetchy region.
“The Hetch Hetchy area is easily one of my favorite parts of Yosemite to explore. When I first came to Yosemite I was not a hiker, but I fell in love with the Hetch Hetchy area so much that not only have I become an avid hiker, I’ve even done some solo overnight backpacking,” Rush Creek Lodge Host Megan Gerace says.
She says there are endless hiking opportunities, though visitors tend to pass over the area for Yosemite Valley (when there is just as much to see there as in the valley but less traffic).
On the other side of the park, traveling on Highway 41, four miles from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park, adventurers and railroad enthusiasts can travel a four-mile round trip path through the Sierra National Forest on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.
It stands apart from other train rides because not only is it through the majestic forest, but it operates on a restored railroad grade. The locomotives are rare; fewer than six of these types are left in the world, and Sugar Pine has two of them. So whether it is rare giant trees or rare old locomotives, the park has a little bit of historic magic throughout, waiting to be explored.