Jason and I stayed at Rush Creek Lodge in Groveland, CA, just outside of Yosemite National Park’s Big Oak Flat entrance, when we visited the park in June. It was our second stay at the lodge, so I thought I’d share our experience there.
Rush Creek Lodge opened in June 2016 and was the first new resort near Yosemite in 25 years. It is a sister property to the Evergreen Lodge, which has been around since the 1920’s. Rush Creek Lodge includes a main lodge, villas (we chose a villa for both visits), swimming pool, game room, outdoor games spread across the grounds, restaurant, tavern, general store, and gift shop.
First Impressions of Rush Creek Lodge
We stayed at Rush Creek Lodge on our quick weekend trip to Yosemite in October 2016, just three months after the resort opened. A quick scan of the online reviews when we were booking revealed that the opening did not go well. Based on what I was reading, however, I wasn’t too worried about staying there in October. Most of the complaints could be reasoned away as opening glitches. I figured things had improved.
The resort makes a good first impression when you arrive. Style wise, the lodge’s buildings fit perfectly with the surrounding forest. Landscaping was a work in progress (and still was when we visited this summer), but you could see what they were trying to do with the grounds.
I had a good feeling after checking in at the reception desk. The staff was friendly and the decor was on point — a chic, rustic, industrial style, our new favorite. But when we stepped into our villa, that’s when I fell in love! It was perfect!
The rooms are all styled with industrial, rustic decor. We’re talking shelves made of pipe, barn doors, wool blankets, lots of wood and metal. Every room on the property features a deck, and our villas each had gas fireplaces. There are no TVs in any of the rooms, only in the Tavern. Instead, each room includes board games and a satellite radio. I appreciate that they have set up the space to encourage guests to connect with nature and with one another.
On both occasions, we stayed in a two-room villa. Our views from our October visit villa were great. The deck faced west and provided decent views of the setting sun. Our second villa didn’t have the best view, but it faced the woods and felt a little more private.
I was a little disappointed in how quickly the wear and tear on the villas was showing when we visited Yosemite in June. A wall shelf in the bathroom was already down, the holes in the wall the only sign that something had been there. The treads on the stairs leading to the front door where already peeling off. And the screen on our sliding door to the deck was already ripped. It’s only been a year …
We also had some problems with housekeeping during our second stay. If the resort is struggling to clean all the occupied rooms, then they might have to hire more staff. After a great day in Yosemite, we don’t want to return to a messy room that we’re paying a lot of money to not be messy.
There are two dining options in the main lodge — the Restaurant and the Tavern — and we enjoyed both during our stays. Both dining areas work from the same menu, with the Tavern atmosphere slightly more casual than the Restaurant.
I appreciated the California-focused flavors and variety of ingredients that make up the menu. Jason, however, struggled to find options to fit his tastes. He is a basic meat and potatoes kind of guy, so most of the menu was a no-go for him.
Our only other complaint about the dining at Rush Creek is the price. Considering how much food you get, the prices are a bit outrageous. But you’re stuck — there is no other dining close by, so you either pay the high prices, bring all of your own food (although the rooms only have a mini-fridge, no microwave), or starve. Not great choices.
We took advantage of other amenities on the property during our stays at Rush Creek. We played bags with their beautiful corn hole boards, enjoyed drinks on the poolside terrace, and definitely snagged free s’mores at the outdoor fire pit after dinner!
When we visited in October, we attended their Rim Fire Talk. A member of the recreation team talked about the 2013 Rim Fire and its impact on the surrounding Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. It was ok, but we’ll pass on their recreation activities in the future.
This summer with friends, we spent part of an evening at the pool. The pool area wasn’t relaxing for us — LOTS of screaming kids — but perfect for friends with children.
The pool bar was open and they were preparing for a poolside barbecue. While the food looked good to me (not Jason), the price kept us away. Again, it was just too expensive for what you were getting.
On a future visit, I would like to take advantage of Rush Creek’s wellness services. We didn’t realize they offered therapeutic massages, otherwise Jason may have booked me for one here instead of in Reno. Also, I’d love to take a yoga class there. What a perfect setting for it!
Final Thoughts on Rush Creek Lodge
We would definitely stay at Rush Creek Lodge again on a future Yosemite vacation. The resort is really beautiful and includes a great array of amenities. But from October of last year, when we expected it to still be a little rough, to June of this year, it felt like they were still struggling. I hope they can get off the slippery slop and make Rush Creek Lodge an amazing Yosemite destination.