Peeking Inside The Rangers Club At Yosemite National Park

Take a few minutes to explore the Rangers Club at Yosemite National Park. Screenshots pulled from Yosemite Nature Notes.

Need a reason to become a National Park Service ranger? Some get to live in really cool accommodations, such as the Rangers Club at Yosemite National Park.

Of course, not every park offers such historically rich accommodations in such picturesque settings. But it's nice to dream, no?

The following video by Steven M. Bumgardner is the latest installment of Yosemite Nature Notes. Enjoy!


Such a wonderful video showing something I entirely missed this past summer. Had I seen this video sooner, I would have inquired at the Club about the letter in "The White Tower" book. The family name "Baum" appeared there. That is my family name on my mother's side. It makes me wonder if the letter was written by my grandfather. How can I find out?

It's great to see that the Ranger Club is still there.

I just realized as I watched the video that when I worked in YOSE, I was inside the Rangers Club only once or twice. What a privilege it would have been to have been able to live there.

Steve Bumgardner, thank you for this tour! Every time I watch one of your videos of Yosemite, I'm reminded how little I know of a place where I once worked and lived and enjoyed.

And to all of you who make NP Traveler possible -- sincere thanks to you, as well.

It's nice to see a photo of my former room (second floor, first window on the left of the three above the back porch). This video brings back fond memories of people and experiences during the two years I was privileged to work in Yosemite National Park and live in the Mather Ranger Club of Yosemite Valley. Special mention should be given to the memory and legacy of an African American lady who served as the care taker of this historic building during the 1960s and early 1970's, Ms. Bertha Allen.

The name on the letter is Herbert Baum, of the Franklin Life Insurance Co., in San Francisco, dated 1946

I appreciate you posting and sharing, and also that you reach back to my German roots and spell my name more correctly than it actually is, but alas, I'm just a bum(gardner)

Everyone else-
I'm glad you enjoy my Valentine to the Rangers' Club!

What a tremendous facility for the Yosemite Rangers! Living anywhere else in the park, with the possible exception of the Ahwanee, would be a comedown. I visited Yosemite with my Dad several times and on my own, but never heard of the Rangers' Club. Wish I had had a chance to see it personally, but the video is a fine substitute.

Steve, perhaps it's my own Germanic background that subconsciously makes me want to rename you. I know this isn't the first time, and, unfortunately, might not be the last. Perhaps it'd be better if you did indeed change the spelling;-)

My apologies.

Steve, I would like to add my thanks for the excellent job you are doing by producing these video " Yosemite Nature Notes." They are truly outstanding examples of what the NPS can do in Yosemite and at other sites to effectively interpret park resources to a public located far beyond the park's borders. I found the Yosemite Nature Note video of the hike to Half Dome to be especially effective, as was the more recent video interpreting the Mt. Lyell Glacier. The present "Valentine to the Mather Ranger Club" brought back vivid memories from two very influrential years of my life. I'm sure many other present and former occupants of this historic structure would have similar thoughts to share.

Owen Hoffman, former Yosemite park ranger-naturalist (1969-71).

It must be like living in a museum. Cool in some ways, but -- can't the library even update its books? Those should be in a museum.

What a beautiful gem! It's just a shame that the forest service keeps covering everything up with brown paint!
There is so much detail being covered up because people are lazy now days.....

Just curious, but what does the Forest Service have to do with the article or any of the comments?

I lived there (in the Ranger Club) in the early seventies. On my 21st birthday we had so many people on the deck that it separated from the building, very slowly. It was an awesome place to live back then. The communal kitchen was something to behold. You did not dare leave food out or it was eaten, and even the refrigerators had padlocks.
One night we killed a bear, and a zoologist/ranger wanted the skull. We put it in a large stockpot to cook off the meat. As a prank we added carrots, celery, etc. We simmered that skull for a full two days and continually added water. One morning at breakfast he emptied the pot, retrieved the skull, and noted the two large abcesses in the jaw, the source of the behavioral problems of the bear. The skull was the source of some rather pale faces that day as many had been helping themselves to the stew that had been brewing for several days!
There was also the night the stables burned down, when the fire started at midnight. First responders were all of us from the Ranger Club, and a long night it was. Thanks for bringing back some great memories!

Vince, My sources tell me that Bertha Allen spent some hours adding spices and stirring the pot without knowing that a bear skull with an absessed jaw was inside. She was not pleased once she discovered the core contents of her simmering soup.

I lived in the Ranger Club my last month in Yosemite NP (September '09). I'm really not sure what was my favorite part...the big thick living room ceiling beams or the view of Sentinel Rock from the back terrace.

Oh, yes. Bertha Allen. I had forgotten her. And now I'm wondering how I could possibly have forgotten such a wonderful lady.

Would like to set the record straight or at least give another version of the bear stories. My name is Ken Henson, and I worked in Yosemite as a ranger, in the protection division 1969 - 1973. My shift was from midnight until 8:00 AM working mostly law enforcement with some resource management. This included trapping and tagging bears. I had the privilege of working with some really great guys and living in the Ranger’s Club. There were three bear skulls that were collected that were going to Northern Arizona University during my time in the park. Bertha Allen knew what was in the pot cooking on the stove. I skinned the heads out on the kitchen table and removed the large muscles, tongue, eyes, some brains, etc. Bertha told me that in the depression she had eaten bear and it smelled good to her. I do not know who the guys were that put the vegetables in with one of the skulls, but I did not think it was funny. One of the bears that ended up in the pot was hit by a shuttle bus and then put down with a .357. Another was choked to death while being tagged. The final skull was taken from a bear that was overdosed with a drugs. This had been a problem bear.

The skull of one of these bears can be seen at:

I was fortunate enough to live in the Ranger Club during much of 1975 to 1985 during my seasonal and early permanent years working there as an interpreter. The video brought back many memories. I recall the RC had just been remodelled in 1978 or so which greatly improved the kitchen and bathrooms throughout the building. My favorite room of many to live in was #8. It is upstairs, the smallest of all the Club's rooms and sat right over the reading nook facing Sentinel Rock. I had my own "private deck" - I'd opent the window and climb out onto the flat roof of the downstairs nook. From there is an almost-unobstructed view across Cook's Meadow to Sentinel Rock with a huge, planted sequoia tree framing the east edge of the scene. Some winters afforded the opportunity to walk off the back deck and cross country ski across the meadow and beyond.
I fondly recall many winter evenings sitting in front of the large stone fireplace socializing with friends and fellow residents. I also recall a near-architectural disaster in the early 1890s. In an effort to improve energy efficiency, one morning the NPS Buildings and Grounds installed a wood stove insert into the fireplace. The unit was already mortared in place and setting up when two residents realized what was happening. They understood how the open fireplace design was integral to the integrity of the building. Within an hour or two the park curator was contacted, and someone from B&G was removing the partially-set mortar and the insert. I would think today the faint outline of mortar still rims the fireplace opening.

At the end it says "Yosemite Nature Notes - Episode 13." Where are the other episodes? Are they available for us to look at? Maybe on Youtube? Thanks.

Steve et al, while many of the Nature Notes have appeared on the Traveler and can be found under "Yosemite National Park" if you browse our archives by topic, you can find all the episodes at this site, Yosemite Nature Notes.

For what it's worth, I'd like to thank and encourage all who are contributing to the "I was there" stuff. Some wonderful stories.

I had the privilege of living in the Ranger’s Club from 1970-72. It was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Unfortunately, I did not fully appreciate my good fortune at the time. In fact, the first spring I was somewhat annoyed that the roar from the Lower Yosemite Falls made it difficult fall asleep at night. The building itself was only part of the experience, however. A larger part was the fellow employees who lived and worked there. One such person was Bertha who was hired by NPS to keep the place in reasonable working order and to keep an eye on all the young and sometimes exuberant seasonals who lived there. She was a combination housekeeper and den mother. I soon learned that staying on Bertha’s good side was one of the unwritten rules of living in the RC. Bertha took a proprietary interest in every thing that went on under her roof. Early one morning she walked into Dorm A which was empty except for a visiting friend of mind who was still sound asleep. Bertha, not expecting any overnight guests, walked over to his bed, reached down and yanked the blanket and sheet off my startled friend and demanded to know who he was and why he was sleeping in her bed. My startled (terrified?) friend will always remember the Ranger’s Club also.

Admit it Dave, how we cleaned up after our fights so Bertha wouldn't get on our backs. Or when Maria and I put vegetables into Farrell and Henson's 'stew'. Uncle Fred was so cool, it was a family away from home in the RC, thanks to all of you that shared the experience with us!

A wonderful atmosphere and the Ranger's I met are great! Thanks Ray for all your help!
Hope to see you all next Summer.

Thanks for posting this. I was lucky enough to stay at the Rangers Club even though I was not a ranger there. My sister Debbie was, and I stayed up on the third floor, which was nothing but a big bank of beds, one after another. I cooked many a meal on the barbeque outside, including a steak. During that cookout. I noticed a housecat's glowing eyes emerge from the barn nearby. Since I love housecats, I called to it. "Here kitty, kitty, kitty," I called out. Slowly but surely, kitty made it's way over to me through the darkness, and started up the ramp leading to the kitchen. And when the first beam of light hit those glowing eyes, I realized that my "kitty" was a big, FAT, hungry racoon. Needless to say -- I hoofed it back inside and watched wide-eyed until it ambled off. I have many memories of the Rangers Club, but this 1977 memory stands out above all others. Thanks for the trip back in time.