Location: 13 miles (21 km) from Yosemite entrance; 30 miles (48 km) from Yosemite Valley; via Highway 120 (map)
Population 50; Elevation 3,000 feet (915 meters)
Buck Meadows, like imaginary numbers and unicorns, is as much an idea as a tangible part of the universe, lacking a zip code, stoplights, or even a reduced speed limit. Downtown Buck Meadows has a shorter yellow pages listing than your neighborhood mini-mall. Still, it's there (see the above photo for proof), and it's a useful construct. As you pass through Buck Meadows on Highway 120, you'll only spot the America's Best Value Inn and the Yosemite Ridge Resort, but it turns out that several more inns and resorts lie scattered among the trees in the area, from intimate owner-run bed & breakfasts to gigantic RV parks with hundreds of sites. See the hotels section below for a full inventory.
Shopping & Gas: There's a small convenience store and gas station (including diesel) at the Yosemite Ridge Resort. There's another at the turnoff to the Yosemite Lakes Resort, but it closes early. The Evergreen Lodge has a restaurant and convenience store.
Local Attractions: The Rainbow Pool is a popular swimming hole. It's 3 miles (5 km) east of Buck Meadows; the signed turnoff is on Highway 120 just west of a bridge over the Tuolumne River.
The Strawberry Music Festival, a three-day bluegrass-and-beyond concert series that takes place over Memorial & Labor Day weekends, is held at nearby Camp Mather. It attracts some well known artists (recent headliners include Patty Griffin and Keb'Mo') and generally sells out, so getting tickets ahead of time is advisable. Your closest lodging options are the Evergreen Lodge (half a mile away) and the Dimond O Campground (1.5 miles away). The Evergreen recommends reservations three months ahead for the Strawberry Festival weekends.
After Hours Entertainment: Plan on bringing a good book.
Cell Phone Reception: You may have luck with Verizon, but otherwise, don't count on reception.
Pro: Peace and quiet. There are more people in any given Yosemite campground than there are residents of Buck Meadows.
Con: Contrary to its name, there are no meadows in sight here. This is clearly a failure of imagination.
If you're going to name your city after something that's not there, why settle for a meadow, which lots of other places
have plainly already got? Why not call it "Buck Rogers' Bloody Crash Landing Site" or "Buck Naked Mermaids From the Watery Deep?"
These are the names of places I would make a point of visiting. This error is probably why Buck Meadows
remains such a modest size after so many years.
Cabins: Available at the Evergreen Lodge, the Sunset Inn, and the Yosemite Ridge Resort. The Yosemite Riverside Inn deals primarily in conventional hotel rooms but also has two cabins. The Yosemite Lakes Resort has cabins, but they lack bathrooms.
45 guest rooms; 13 miles (21 km) from Yosemite entrance; pool & spa, playground, and coin-op laundry onsite; restaurant next door
10-bedroom bed & breakfast; 13 miles (21 km) from Yosemite entrance; one ADA-qualified room available; $190 - $255 for double occupancy (see rates page)
83 cabins, 15 tents, and a 2,500-square-foot house; 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Yosemite's Hetchy Hetchy entrance, and 8 miles (13 km) from the Big Oak Flat entrance; restaurant, tavern, and store onsite; massage, yoga, and variety of guided activities; rates from $80 - 1,125 (see rates page)
6-bedroom Swedish-themed bed & breakfast; 12 miles (19 km) from Yosemite entrance; all guest rooms have private bathrooms; 2 guest rooms ADA-compliant; individual rooms from $145 - $220, with entire home available for $975 (see rates page)
The forest service maintains nine campgrounds along the Highway 120 corridor between Groveland and Yosemite, ranging from 7 - 35 miles outside the park, with prices from $0 - $70. All have pit toilets, most have potable water, and none have showers.
Three historic cabins on a 2-acre site surrounded by national forest; 2 miles (3.5 km) from Yosemite entrance; $160 - $260 (see rates page)
22 yurts, 10 cabins, 40 RV sites, and 110 tent sites; 6 miles (10 km) from Yosemite entrance
8 cabins and 14 RV sites; 13 miles (21 km) from Yosemite entrance; cabins sleep 2 - 6; RV sites have full hookups; satellite TV in all cabins; coin-op laundry onsite; pets allowed at RV sites; barbecue and picnic table outside each cabin; $25 - $175 (see rates page)
19 hotel rooms and 2 cabins; 11 miles (18 km) from Yosemite entrance; bordered by the San Jose summer camp and national forest; Tuolumne River runs through the property; 2,700 feet (820 meters) elevation