National Park Road Trip 2011: Wawona Hotel In Yosemite National Park

The Wawona Hotel in Yosemite is set not too far from the park's southern entrance. Here you'll find laidback elegance, along with a swimming pool referred to as 'the tank' and a golf course. Sequoia cones are designed into the lamp shades in the hotel's dining room. Photos by David and Kay Scott.

Editor's note: From Kings Canyon National Park, lodging connoisseurs David and Kay Scott headed north to Yosemite National Park, where they checked into the Wawona Hotel to work on an update to their book, The Complete Guide To The National Park Lodges.

Greetings from the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park, where we stayed one night prior to driving into Yosemite Valley.

Compared to lodging facilities in the valley, the Wawona offers a slow-paced vacation in which guests shoot a round of golf, relax in Adirondack chairs scattered across the front lawn, or sip a glass of wine on the veranda.

Five nights a week, pianist Tom Bopp entertains guests with song and conversation in the hotel lobby. The hotel is a peaceful place to stay, but does not offer the spectacular scenery of Yosemite Valley.

We approached the park’s south entrance from Fresno the other day a little before noon and creeped slowly forward for approximately 30 minutes in a line of cars and campers headed for the entrance station. The wait would have been significantly longer except rangers at the entrance station decided to begin waving vehicles through without collecting an entrance fee or providing a park newspaper.

On a positive note, the skies cleared for Memorial Day when we entered the park and we were able to enjoy excellent, if cool, weather following rain, snow, and cold in Yosemite over the weekend.

Fortunately, we spent the weekend in Fresno enjoying some good weather. This gave us a chance to rest, do some wash, and for Kay to get a haircut, wash, and rinse for $6.50 at Lyle Beauty College.

We arrived at Wawona to a forecast for a nice day followed by the possibility of rain or snow.

What strange weather we are having this summer. On past trips to Fresno we have often experienced triple-digit temperatures. This time the highs were in the low 70s.

The Wawona Hotel has the appearance of a late-1800s Western military post. Six one- and two-story white frame buildings sit in close proximity amid tall cedar and pine trees. The six buildings contain 104 guest rooms, about half with a private bathroom and half without. The main building with the registration desk, lobby, and dining room has 28 guest rooms, all but one on the second floor.

The other five buildings vary in size and contain from 3 to 39 guest rooms. Some rooms are large, some rooms are small, some rooms without a bath have a sink, some have no sink. Despite these differences, all rooms at Wawona are rented as either rooms with a private bath or rooms without. Rooms with a bath rent for $219, a little over $70 per night more than rooms without a private bathroom. A buffet breakfast is included with the price of a room.

A free National Park Service shuttle leaves Wawona for Yosemite Valley each day at 8:30 a.m. The trip takes approximately one hour with the return departing from the valley at 3:30. The shuttle is particularly handy for Wawona guests who are not planning a stay in the valley. Why burn gasoline, fight the traffic, and search for parking in the crowded valley when you can ride a free shuttle?

Another free NPS shuttle leaves each half hour from near the hotel for Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Somewhat surprisingly, four large sequoia trees sit directly behind Wawona’s main building.

Adjacent to Wawona, the Pioneer Yosemite History Center explores the park’s past. Live demonstrations, a horse-drawn stage ride, and an operating blacksmith shop are offered.

During a walk along the hotel veranda we came upon a Steller’s Jay that was hungry for a hamburger and chips that had been dumped into a trash can. This was a bird that would not give up no matter how difficult the task to retrieve the food.

From Wawona our plans call for us to head to the Yosemite Valley, where we will spend a night at Curry Village. We are hoping for good weather so we can snap photos of the valley’s four lodging facilities. As a treat we will eat lunch at the Ahwahnee, which boasts one of the most beautiful dining rooms we have come across.

Stay tuned.

Comments

My husband Dave and I have stayed at the Wawona on our 3 trips to Yosemite NP. First we stayed in the Washburn Cottage and the other 2 times in the Main Building. We were completely impressed with the wonderful breakfast buffet that is offered in the Main Building's Dining Room.

Likewise we enjoyed Mr. Bopp at the piano while awaiting our dinner reservations. I requested the song, "Edelweiss" from "The Sound of Music" which he played beautifully. It is one of my favorites because my mother is from Germany and I heard it a lot while growing up. It's especially poignant to me since we buried my mom just 2 weeks ago.

Thank you for reminding me of a wonderful memory we shared a couple of years ago!
Connie Hopkins

In the summer, the Wawona has an great BBQ on its front lawn. Well worth enjoying whether you stay there or not.

My father, Doug Hubbard, was deeply involved in the collection from around the Park of the historically significant buildings that are found today at the Wawona Pioneer History Center.
He wrote a very fun and informative overview of his recollections, and of the various challenges that were faced in the process of transporting the structures from there original sites.
For those interested in learning more, the account can be found at the Pioneer History Center

That tunnel was a killer...

For those interested in the first-hand account of the trials and tribulations of moving the buildings now found at the Yosemite Pioneer History Center at Wawona, the story may be found here: http://www.undiscovered-yosemite.com/pioneer.html