Location: 12 miles (19 km) east of Yosemite's Tioga Pass entrance; 69 miles (111 km) from Yosemite Valley; via Highway 120 (map)
Population 398; elevation 6,781 feet (2,060 meters)
Lee Vining is a small, high-elevation town on the eastern slope of the Sierras. In addition to being close to the Tioga area of Yosemite, it's on the western shore of Mono Lake, and it's a short drive to Bodie, California's most famous ghost town, and to Mammoth Mountain, a gigantic ski resort.
Gas & Groceries: Lee Vining has a small but fetchingly painted grocery store (visible above) and multiple gas stations.
Dining: A stay in Lee Vining should include a visit to the famous Whoa Nelli Deli, located just south of town inside the Mobil Station at the intersection of Highway 395 and the Tioga Road.
Pro: It's closer than any other town - or even Yosemite Valley, for that matter - to the spectacular eastern section of the Tioga Road, where the highlights include Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake. And when was the last time you stayed in a town named after a miner who died after his own pistol went off in his pocket?
Con: The Tioga Road, your route from Lee Vining to Yosemite, is closed in the winter. See the Road Conditions page for the road's opening and closing dates in recent years.
Lake View Lodge
Hotel rooms from $70 - $160 during summer (May - August), cottages from $140 - $270 (rates listed on website, but direct links to the page don't work); pets allowed ($20 fee)
Rooms from $58 - $123 (see rates page); small pets allowed ($5 fee)
Open May - October; rooms from $110 - $160
Tioga Pass Resort
Less than two miles from Yosemite's Tioga Pass entrance at 9,600 feet elevation; motel rooms from $105 - $115, cabins from $150 - $230 (see rates page)
Yosemite Gateway Motel
20 hotel rooms; summer rates from $160 - $200