Rush Creek Lodge & Spa: A Review Of This Yosemite Resort

by | May 18, 2024 | Family Adventures, Traveling with Teens, USA, West Coast

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My oldest son and I visited Rush Creek Lodge & Spa in Yosemite in late March for his birthday. He was turning 14! As an avid adventurer, mountain biker, and budding photographer, this trip was the ultimate birthday present.

Before leaving, we were warned that snow might still cover the mountain trails, but we didn’t mind. To be honest, we were pretty excited about it. We packed both winter and warm-weather apparel, knowing we could need both. 

We drove the 279 miles from LA to Yosemite, which took us about 7 hours. For ordinary people, it would take about 4 hours. I am not one of those people because I have a horrible problem. With heights. I was not prepared to drive along the sides of those death cliffs of Yosemite, specifically the roads along the cliffs, which didn’t have protective rails.

Someone I met at Yosemite told me there were rails once, but they were removed because they provided a false sense of security. 

I’m not sure if this is true, but I am sure I would take a false sense of security over no sense of security!

What finally made me push the gas pedal a little bit harder? The idea of driving along those cliffs at night. 

 

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Welcome to Rush Creek Lodge & Spa

We arrived at Rush Creek Lodge & Spa, who graciously offered to host us, at sunset.

I parked the car and reintroduced myself to breathing. 

I closed my eyes and clenched and unclenched my hands while my fresh fourteen-year-old laughed and asked if I had really been that scared.

“No, I’m not scared at all,” I chuckled. “I love driving so slowly that I create an LA-worthy traffic jam in the middle of nowhere.”

Thank the good Lord for Rush Creek Lodge & Spa! It is such a wonderfully stationary spot that is so perfectly removed from the dangers of that treacherous drive. This is a hotel feature you don’t even know you need until you do. 

A parking lot has never felt so good.

Beyond that lot, it got even better. 

 

The Rush Creek Lodge & Spa is not just a resort; it’s like a cult dwelling of forestry-loving, gentle explorers who teach its members to paint, star-gaze, and appreciate nature. Explorers who quietly light bonfires at twilight and share stories of the park and its history.

 

Tree Ring at Rush Creek Resort and Spa

One of the first things visitors see after checking in is this gorgeous tree ring. It sets the tone for a beautiful stay. @RushCreek

 

The Youth Program at Rush Creek and Evergreen

At check-in, we met our first friend at the resort, Michael, an 18-year-old from Michigan. He is part of the resort’s youth program, which places young people at Rush Creek or its sister property, Evergreen Lodge

The program allows its youth to earn money and learn on-the-job skills while exploring the beauty of Yosemite. The resort also provides affordable room and board. (If I could have signed up all three of my boys on the spot, I would have.)

 

Young photographer in Yosemite

My son exploring Hetch Hetchy with his camera. @SteffyMcCourt

 

The Rooms at Rush Creek Lodge & Spa

After Michael checked us in and showed us the location of our villa on a map, we made our way to it on foot.

We walked past the heated outdoor pool from which steam rose into the navy blue night. Nighttime swimmers draped the edges. A few giggling kids scrambled out of the pool to quickly jump back in.

We walked by an outdoor fire, over a small wooden bridge, and down a well-lit path to our villa.

Our spacious hillside villa included two large bedrooms—a king bed and two queen beds—and a vast bathroom. The toilet and shower were separated from the sink and vanity by a sliding barn door. (This is a great touch when traveling with the whole family!)

The master bedroom was heated by a gas-lit iron stove, which was on when we arrived. The room opened to a large deck that overlooked an evergreen forest. Outside, the piney scent mixed with the smell of the resort’s bonfires – a smile-inducing, nostalgic summer camp smell.

My favorite thing the villa did not have was a television. (I don’t think there is a television throughout the entire resort – I don’t remember one, at least.)

The villa had a little kitchenette with a coffee maker and a tea and coffee basket. In addition, there was a sitting area with a basket of books and games. 

 

Room at Rush Creek

Our gorgeous room at Rush Creek made it easy to get a good night’s sleep. @RushCreek

 

Dining at Rush Creek Lodge & Spa

In no time, we relaxed over a delicious meal at the resort’s restaurant – salmon for me and a burger for my boy. 

The resort has three dining options: the restaurant, the tavern, and the store. Whether you’re craving a hearty meal or a light bite, one of these locations has you covered. We didn’t have a meal that we didn’t love. Even the premade sandwiches at the store were tasty! 

We enjoyed chatting with our server, who was also the resort’s yoga teacher. (She also was part of the youth program.)

Towards the end of our meal, me and my boy distractedly linger over dessert.

My son is scrolling through birthday wishes on his phone, and I am eavesdropping on the other families who are spread throughout the resort’s restaurant.

The visitors are part of the charm of the resort.

Expect seasoned explorers to sit alongside families with small children who wouldn’t know a hiking stick from a cheese stick.

That evening brought together many different kinds of people, who, like us, were dwelling over their meals and company.

I heard British accents alongside Southern accents, and I heard the effervescent giggle of a curly-haired 5-year-old alongside the measured laugh of her white-haired grandmother.

So many unique people, but all sharing in that same golden glow that the resort just seems to bestow upon its guests when they arrive.

“Hello. Welcome to Rush Creek. Here is a golden halo that will follow you for the duration of your stay.”

 

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The Spa at Rush Creek

After a day spent chasing waterfalls at Hetch Hetchy and scaling the heights of El Capitan (with my eyes, of course), The Spa at Rush Creek was the medicine my aching body needed. 

 

 

In addition to The Aromatherapy Steam Room and The Himalayan Salt Block Sauna, the spa has a private hot tub for soaking those brave, achy muscles. I do believe that the magnesium-infused hot tub water at Rush Creek can restore even the most trail-weary soul. 

For $65, guests can indulge in the comfort of the spa for an entire day. The Rush Creek staff will bring spa guests a glass of wine, a snack or even a full meal upon requests.

 

At the Rush Creek Spa in Yosemite

I could’ve used a picture of my 14-year-old son at the spa, but I think that he would never forgive me. Actually, I’m sure of it. So you get me.

 

Yosemite’s Rush Creek 

Rush Creek is the kind of place where stories of today’s adventures shared amongst new friends over roasting marshmallows turns into the plans for tomorrow.

Our Rush Creek Lodge & Spa… it’s a special place. 

It’s got that “homey” feeling wrapped inside a “best hotels” kind of luxury.

 

My Favorites at Rush Creek Lodge & Spa

 

    • Outdoor Fun

The amount of opportunities for families to play together outside- bocce ball, zip lines, hiking and biking trails, a playground, outdoor giant checkers, and that wonderful all-season heated pool.

    • Cozy Guest Lounge

The Guest Lounge felt like a round-the-clock holiday party. The fireplace warmed the entire room while guests converged around the recreation desk planning activities and sharing stories.

    • The Diverse Activities

The Activity Calendar is jam-packed with fun. From star-gazing to painting a Yosemite-inspired canvas, all guests will surely find something fun to do on the calendar.

 

Whether you’re the “get up and go” type or the “hey, let’s take it slow” type, Rush Creek Lodge & Spa is the kind of place that fits into any kind of Yosemite narrative.

(BTW If you are wondering if the scary drive was worth it… 1,000 times, YES! Drive the scary cliffs, because you will not regret it.)

 

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Steffy McCourt is a mom to three active and awesome boys, two budgies, one cockatiel, and a mischievous corgi. Currently an ELA Teacher in Plymouth, Michigan, she also writes for parenting magazines and education websites. She just recently launched her own travel website, www.mifamilytravel.com; a tribute to the state of Michigan. She has an MS in Educational Leadership from Butler University and a BA in English from Indiana University.