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Nature Vacation in Sophisticated Style

White or green-covered, Yosemite Rush Creek Lodge & Spa is the perfect family getaway any time of the year

If you are looking for a way to experience Yosemite without sleeping on the ground (that is, if you were even able to get a camping reservation), a sophisticated hillside resort is waiting for you.

Yosemite Rush Creek Lodge & Spa is a little slice of heaven, especially for families traveling with kids. I had the privilege of staying at the tucked-away resort surrounded by sequoias and natural beauty just outside the Highway 120 West entrance to Yosemite National Park. There was something for everyone in my family of five – restaurant and tavern, zip lines, spa, arts and crafts, game room, s’mores pits, pool, jacuzzi, fitness classes, and excursions. And, of course, it was only a short drive to the Giant Sequoias and Yosemite Valley.

The Lodge is open all year round and is quickly becoming one of the premier destinations for mountain weddings. The warmer months offer barbeque celebrations by the pool and outdoor activities galore. While the cooler months see snowshoeing, hot tubing, and more.

Nestled beneath towering sequoia trees, Yosemite Rush Creek Lodge & Spa welcomed us to its authentic, yet well-appointed mountain retreat situated on 20 forested acres along the outskirts of Yosemite National Park. With the resort’s lineup of activities, we couldn’t wait to put down our phones and unplug, savoring the magnificent natural beauty of the area and enjoying Mother Nature’s playground.

After checking in, we stepped into the General Store to find a trail mix bar with more than a dozen offerings to take back to our room and keep us fueled on our nature walks and hikes. Walking out towards the pool, the Guest Lodge and the Main Lodge flank on either side while a fire pit and an outdoor game area punctuate the ends.

The Main Lodge houses the restaurant and tavern, as well as a guest lounge with plush leather chairs and sofas, fireplaces, and card/board game tables where we could kick back and unwind after a day of explorations. There is an indoor game room for children to climb a treehouse-inspired wall and for teens to play air hockey or billiards. An outdoor terrace beckons guests to play a game of shuffleboard while enjoying the crisp mountain air.

The cherry on this mountaintop was the newly renovated indoor-outdoor spa which gave us a chance to truly experience the magnitude and breathtaking beauty of the extraordinary setting. The spa was reimagination from the staff’s personal experiences with Yosemite’s landscape and enchantment. The Rush Creek Spa specifically aims to mimic the extraordinary moments an adventurer would experience while visiting Yosemite – such as magnificent waterfalls, granite formations, glaciers, river rocks smoothed by rushing waters, natural hot springs, and fragrant wildflowers.

The spa’s covered and heated outdoor lounge is anchored by a soothing granite waterfall mineral hot tub where guests can watch the snow fall against the mountains in the background. In contrast, a hanging day bed and warm river rock beds, as well as additional lounge chairs, offer plenty of places to relax before or after receiving treatment.

Inside the spa, we found unique spaces, from an aromatherapy steam room and Himalayan salt block sauna designed to capture the feel of hiking the trails on a hot summer day to the cool mist room and warm waterfall coves designed to mimic a roaring waterfall spraying mist against your skin.

While many family trips are spent running around keeping children entertained, we extremely appreciated the family-friendly spa experience as it opens to families daily from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. so that everyone may enjoy the amenities together before it returns to adults only.

Beyond the spa, there’s no shortage of activities to surprise and delight guests of all ages. From a one-of-a-kind playground to kids’ zip lines (although kids weren’t the only ones acting like children on these!), a 60-foot embankment slide, as well as an assortment of lawn games including bocce ball, horseshoes, life-size checkers, and corn hole.

Additional activities perfect for the cooler seasons include nature crafts, paint parties, glass blowing, and wilderness talks discussing the area. Nightly s’mores around the fire are the perfect sweet ending to an adventure-filled day. Still, for those looking for more, the recreation team is happy to assist with evening stargazing, snowshoeing, or other adventures. The tavern also hosts late-night entertainment, including theme parties and karaoke.

When it’s time for bed, Rush Creek Lodge offers a range of accommodations, including Lodge Rooms, Lodge Suites, Hillside Villas, and One-Bedroom Villas. Lodge Rooms are ideal for families of up to four, and each offers private decks perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee while overlooking the forest or savoring the last beams of light at sunset. Slightly larger, the Lodge Suites offer a private bedroom and separate living room. The One-Bedroom Villas offer a more private experience and are sprinkled throughout the property, with accommodations for up to four guests. For larger parties of up to six guests, a Hillside Villa offers an entry foyer, a master bedroom that includes a king bed, a large sitting area with a queen sofa bed and cast-iron gas fireplace, a second bedroom with either a second king bed or two twin beds, a private bathroom with divided vanity and shower areas, and an expansive private deck with forest and sunset views.

One thing was for sure — nobody from my family was ready to leave when our time was up at the hillside woodland of Rush Creek Lodge. I can tell you that we will be back for sure to have another relaxed, sophisticated experience. See you there!