El Portal is a small community along the Merced River which is mostly notable for providing good lodging options for vistors to Yosemite National Park. Being outside of the National Park, El Portal is not subject to the strict Park limitations on development, so a number of large motels have been constructed.
Yosemite Valley is just a 20 drive from El Portal, which makes El Portal very convenient while providing cheaper lodging that the Park itself. Vistors looking for even cheaper lodging could consider driving further to Mariposa. Masochistic penny-pinchers drive as far as Merced.
From Mariposa, Merced, and other points west, take State Route 140 east. El Portal is about 30 miles east of Mariposa.
From Yosemite, take State Route 140 west from Yosemite Valley. El Portal begins immediately after leave the Park.
The large lodging complexes have restaurants.
Yosemite View Lodge, 11136 Highway 140, (209) 379-2681. A large motel complex next to the Merced River a few hundred feet from the Yosemite National Park boundary. There is of course no view of Yosemite Valley from this complex.
Cedar Lodge, 9966 Highway 140, (209) 379-2612. Large motel complex eight miles from the Yosemite National Park entrance.
Yosemite National Park. All major motels in El Portal have bus stops for the YART buses which can take you directly into Yosemite Valley. This is a good way of avoiding the summertime parking hassles in the valley.