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Enjoy the holidays and beyond at Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite National Park

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--Diane LeBow, photography by John Montgomery

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The aroma of fresh gingerbread is in the air, along with invigorating pine-scented mountain freshness at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, located just 2 miles from the park entrance. This beautifully run all-season 302 room resort --from suites to mountain cottage accommodations-- offers a unique alternative to staying within the park itself. The many activities located on or near the pet-friendly property include guided hikes, mountain bike rentals, spa, ice-skating, snow shoeing, as well as downhill skiing at Badger Pass which has the advantage of being less crowded and more family oriented than other downhill areas. A short scenic drive away from the lodge is Zip Yosemite where even apprehensive first time zip-liners become enthusiasts under the careful guidance of Wayne and Tyler. Yes, snow zipping through the tree canopies is an amazing high!

At Tenaya, dining choices range from candle-lit elegance to casual. Enjoy luscious food, live entertainment as well as their popular ice skating rink and the famous Gingerbread House Decorating Workshop and Competition, which repeats during December. One previous winner was an upside-down house that had experienced a tornado "Wizard of Oz" style. How many houses were created since the event’s debut in 2006? About 1200!

There is tree decorating and lighting, regular visits from St. Nick, choral singing, kids dinner with Santa, Mrs. Claus assisting with cookie decorating and reading Night Before Xmas on Christmas eve, the fun New Year’s eve gala in Grand Ballroom, and even a separate party for adults with kids--including dancing for both.

Ah, relax in the heated pool and be pampered at Ascent, the lodge’s full service spa and its top quality staff. While you’re soaking or being kneaded, the Lodge offers pet or child care, including appropriate entertainment.

Of course, just next door, Yosemite beckons with its towering cliffs, waterfalls, Sequoias, and famous valley: Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and diverse wildlife. Brunch or dinner at the magnificent Ahwahnee is a short drive away.

Enjoy the silence, forest scents, birds’ songs, and crackle of pine needles or snow underfoot. Not far from the Bay Area: Tenaya Lodge and Yosemite National Park.

If you go:

--Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite www.tenayalodge.com (877)382-8618

--John Muir Lodge at Kings Canyon National Park: “a miniature Grand Canyon” http://www.nationalparkreservations.com/sequoia.php, (877) 436-9615

--Yosemite National Park http://www.yosemitepark.com/winter-package-deals.aspx

--Zip Yosemite http.www.zipyosemite.com,(559) 642-6688

--Check current road conditions before traveling to the parks: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/road-conditions.htm.

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