New Yosemite adventures in Mariposa, the Valley and beyond

Visiting the glorious Yosemite Valley? If you’re driving from the Bay Area, you’re likely headed for the National Park’s popular Arch Rock Entrance near El Portal on Highway 140. And if you’re going that route, chances are good that you’ll be passing through the Gold Rush town of Mariposa, where 19th-century buildings hold bustling restaurants, hotel options line the roads, and boutiques and taverns offer other ways to play.

Consider it a little civilization on the edge of the great wilderness — and one where new hot spots pop up all the time. Here’s what to do while you’re in town.

THE NEWEST HOT SPOT: If you’re an Airstream fan or glamping devotee, here’s exciting news. AutoCamp, the glamping experts from Santa Barbara and the Russian River Valley, is opening a luxurious, shiny Airstream trailer encampment — englampment? — just outside Mariposa next month and it’s the largest one yet.

The 35-acre spread will offer 15 luxury tents, three cabin suites and 80 deluxe Airstream trailers outfitted, per AutoCamp usual, with fine linens, organic bath products and other luxe touches. Plus: a 4,000-square-foot club house, fire pits, a heated swimming pool and a pond with canoes. And yes, YARTS, the Yosemite shuttle stops here.

A 4,000-square-foot luxury clubhouse will greet visitors at AutoCamp Yosemite, which opens in March. (Rendering courtesy of Anacapa Architecture) 

AutoCamp’s soft opening — i.e., expect some onsite construction and the pool won’t be open yet — runs March 1 through April 30, with rates starting at $190. Summer rates start at $265 and some weekends have already sold out.

MORE HOT SPOTS: Heading into the park? Grab a BYO (build your own) sandwich and grab-and-go salads (get the potato!) first at the 2-year-old Sweetwater Grocery and Deli in Mariposa proper. Or head for the always-stellar 1850 Restaurant and Brewery a few blocks away, order a bacon-ranch burger at the bar, then grab a seat indoors for lunch.

Heading back from Half Dome? The Grove House has taken over the digs formerly occupied by Prospectors Brewing, added a wine list to the beer tap offerings and a big deck out back for summery alfresco gatherings.

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