Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite tourist attractions in California. I usually take every chance I get to go visit this beautiful National Park. As it happens, Yosemite is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole state of California, so it’s a busy place. There are many places to stay in or close to Yosemite, but most of them are very expensive. For a few years now I have been staying at the Yosemite Bug since it’s close to Yosemite and very affordable. I had the privilege to ask Yosemite Bug owner Dough Shaw some questions about his own rustic mountain resort and why is it a popular place with Yosemite National Park visitors.
Who is Doug Shaw and what is the Yosemite Bug?
Doug Shaw is the proud owner of the Yosemite Bug Mountain resort. He has been the owner and operator of the resort for 13 years. Before being a resort owner, Doug has worked in hotel management for 15 years.
Yosemite Bug is located on a large beautiful forested property 25 miles from the west end of Yosemite Valley off of highway 140. Tucked away on it’s own bend in the stream with a swimming hole, it has a magical feel perched under a grove of Black Oaks with a boy scout camp feel. Our guest tend to return, and are very international in mix. The Bug offers a relaxed and social atmosphere missing elsewhere, where families feel free and backpackers find welcome.
How did you open the Yosemite Bug?
I did go traveling a lot and one day decided there was no reason I could not open one myself. It has been a lot of work, but people’s positive response to that work has kept me going. Most Europeans like this place because it has an authentic feel for a mountain place. Americans who come here, on the other hand, like it because it is very social, interactive and not a cold & boring corporate establishment.
It takes a good 40 to 50 minutes from the Bug to actually drive to Yosemite Valley. Do your visitors find this a problem? Do you hear them complaining about the drive?
Yeah, I used to take 30 minutes on a winter day to get past Arch Rock into Yosemite Valley on a low traffic day. The small rock slide detour changed this a bit and can add 15 minutes, not to mention trafficky summer days with flat lander drivers in the river canyon. People have complained online about it, but you give and take as a traveler. There are not many places at this price and reputation that are within an hour of Yosemite Valley. Most towns are at least and hour and a half from the Valley. Our natural location and feel with the services, and the beautiful valley drive into Yosemite make it worthwhile. Sometimes Californians book the first night here and camp or hotel in the park the second. Once you have been here, you will know.
The Bug does have a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. How do you do that? Is it because it’s a hostel and you normally get people who like to travel? Is it because you have friendly staff? Or a mix ?
Firstly, under a quarter of the place is hostel dorms. Hostels lend to a relaxed, social atmosphere and that’s how I wanted it. There’s something in the way the Bug has naturally has grown into a small mountain resort that has not lost that feel. I think guests, American and international have had a hand in this. They refer people who like that type of place to us and it replicates. Though i should tell you many people tell me there is a positive spirit already here at this location, like a good vortex. Take that how you want, but I remember that feeling was there for me and helped me make the decision to start the Bug at this location and in the market. Staff, friendly? That is sheer work to find and retain the right people, but I will say most employees like it here, too, and I still get emails about “the good old days at the Bug”.
The Bug has a variety of accommodations: from bunk beds, to private rooms to tent cabins. Based on your experience, what are the most popular type of accommodations that your visitors choose?
Definitely private rooms with baths (en suite). No matter how many we put in, people keep them booked! Dorms stay relatively busy, however, especially since we use them for wilderness medicine classes, groups and the like. Tent Cabins are great for budget backpacker couples in the summer, but now we have heated insulated ones in winter, too. Don’t forget across the creek we have a sizable house for large families and friends gatherings now.
I have stayed twice at the Bug and I have noticed all kinds of reused pieces of furniture and decorations. Why is that?
Well, initially I had some small private rooms with baths and at low price I just used my old furniture for ( I lived in a tent). I dunno, since then my mother buys new & used furniture and decor for rooms with different themes, replacing broken or old items every year. Our guests never complain, my take is that they love the fact we do not buy new and corporate, we recycle and reuse in a positive way. The psychedelic room Isn’t as great until you see the original painting picked up at a bay area Salvation Army that looks like a 70’s pimp Jesus cool dude in chartreuse and purple. Isn’t that as “green” as anything else?