Location: 2 miles (3 km) from Yosemite entrance; 32 miles (51 km) from Yosemite Valley; via Highway 41 (map)
Population 200; elevation 4,990 feet (1,520 meters)
Fish Camp, a tiny settlement with more hotel beds than permanent residents, lies in the forest just outside Yosemite's southern entrance. It's home to a few small inns; the immense Tenaya Lodge resort, which is owned by the same company that runs the hotels inside Yosemite; and the Narrow Gauge Inn, a hotel next door to a working antique choo-choo train.
Gas & Groceries: There are no gas stations in Fish Camp. You'll have to fill up seven miles farther along near the the Wawona Hotel. (Savvy travelers will have done this 13 miles ago in Oakhurst.) There's a small general store (pictured above) along the highway and a smaller one inside the Tenaya Lodge exploring new frontiers in pricing ($10 for an off-the-shelf plastic-wrapped sandwich, $2.95 for a 20-oz. diet pepsi).
Dining: The prices seem high for the standard sandwiches-and-stuff fare at Jackalope's in the Tenaya Lodge, but eating on the patio there at sunset just feels like the perfect cap to a long day's adventuring. There's a higher-end restaurant at the Narrow Gauge Inn that's open for dinners only.
Pro: Very pretty area; only two miles outside Yosemite's southern entrance and four miles from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Con: A lack of gas stations and general retail; if you're looking for a drug or grocery store, you'll need to drive back to Oakhurst, 13 miles south.
The Tenaya Lodge provides a variety of guided tours and has a spa, climbing wall, and outdoor ice-skating rink. It's also got large meeting and ballrooms that are frequently booked by organizations from around the area and the Central Valley; if you want to work on your party-crashing skills, you could have opportunities here. If you fail, you can retreat to the Jackalope's Bar & Grill just off the main entrance.
The Narrow Gauge Inn is next door to the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, where you can ride an antique narrow-gauge logging train dating from the first decades of the 20th century.
Fish Camp is 7 miles (11 km) from the Wawona Hotel, where the lounge pianist is an institution, entrenched there for more than 20 years.
If you're a seriously badass athlete, come to Fish Camp for the Shadow of the Giants 50k, an ultramarathon, usually in June, that winds through the forest and a Giant Sequoia grove. If you're only moderately badass, you can do the 25k instead.
Big Creek Inn
Bed & breakfast with three guest rooms; summer rates from $240 - $280, offseason rates from $140 - $210 (see rates page)
Little Ahwahnee Inn
Bed & breakfast with two guest rooms; both rooms have private baths, private decks; free wireless Internet; no smoking except in designated outdoor areas, no pets; summer rates $250/night
Narrow Gauge Inn
26 guest rooms, all non-smoking; $145 - $250 summer, $80 - $110 offseason (see rates page); restaurant onsite; pets allowed for extra fee; adjacent to a restored antique logging train that runs tours daily during the summer
Owl's Nest Lodging at Yosemite
1237 Highway 41 · (559) 683-3484 · Website · $155 - $200
1-bedroom suite (2 guests max) and a cabin with full kitchen (7 guests max), $155 - $200 (see rates page); 3 night minimum stay; open April - September; no smoking, no pets
Summerdale USFS Campground
Forest Service campground between Fish Camp and the Yosemite entrance, roughly a mile from each; 28 campsites; $24 per night
One of the Yosemite area's largest hotels, with cottages and half a dozen room types, summer rates from $285 - $500; various stores and two restaurants onsite; spa, climbing wall, ice skating rink, sleigh rides; mountain bike & snowshoe rentals; owned by Delaware North, the concessionaire that runs the hotels inside Yosemite
Tin Lizzie Inn
Bed & breakfast with two guest rooms and a detached two-bedroom house; rates from $250 to $550 - see rates pages for king bed suite ($350 - $400), queen bed cottage ($250 - $300), and 2-bedroom house sleeping up to 8 ($450 - $550); Model T Ford rentals available for an extra $350
White Chief Mountain Lodge
Room types (all non-smoking) include 1 queen bed, 2 twin beds, or 1 double and 1 twin bed; rates from $120 - $135 (see rates page PDF)
Big Creek Yosemite Vacation Home
(559) 683-6465 · Website · 10 guests max · $300 - $375
3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2,000 square feet; kid friendly, no pets, no smoking; washer & dryer
Big Pine Cabin (Yosemite Forest Lodge)
3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,800-square-foot cabin; 3 night minimum stay in peak season, 2 night minimum off season; no smoking; pets allowed ($10/night charge); $150 cleaning deposit; summer rates $300 for 2 guests, $25 for each additional guest up to $450 for 10 (see rates page)
Casa de Sierra
(559) 642-0122 · Website · 6 guests max · $280
3 bedrooms, 2 baths; open summers only; no smoking, no pets; washer & dryer; $80 cleaning fee; 3 night minimum stay; $280 for 6 guests
Little Pine Cabin (Yosemite Forest Lodge)
1-bedroom, 1-bath, 600-square-foot cabin; 3 night minimum stay in peak season, 2 night minimum off season; no smoking; pets allowed ($10/night charge); $150 cleaning deposit; summer rates $200 for 2 guests, $250 for 4 guests (see rates page)
3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2,300 square feet; free wireless Internet; no smoking; pets allowed ($10/night charge); $200 cleaning deposit; 3 night minimum stay peak season, 2 nights offseason; summer rates $300 for 2 guests, $25 each for additional guest, up to $550 for 12 (see rates page)
Naturalist House Vacation Rental
(559) 642-0122 · Website · 8 guests max · $260 - $300
3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths; 3 night minimum stay; kid friendly, no pets, no smoking; washer & dryer; $75 cleaning fee; $260 for 6 guests, $20 apiece for additional guests (8 max)
Sugar Pine Cabin
3 bedrooms, 2 baths; no pets; 3 night minimum stay summer and holidays, 2 night minimum offseason; summer rate $325 for up to 8 guests (see rates page)
Yosemite Bound Mountain Cabin
3 bedrooms, 2 baths; no pets, no smoking; kids allowed; washer & dryer; 2 night minimum stay; $150 cleaning fee
Yosemite Bridge Cabin
1 bedroom, 1 bath; queen bed plus queen sofa bed; washer & dryer; free Internet; kid friendly, no pets, no smoking; summer rate $225
Yosemite Trestlewood Chalet
(626) 798-1094 · Website · 14 guests max · $200 - $600
5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths; pets allowed (additional fee, some restrictions); $200 cleaning deposit; 3 night minimum stay during summer/holidays, 2 night minimum otherwise; summer/holiday rates $300/night for 2 guests plus $25 per additional guest up to 14 total (see rates page)