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by Foxboro Marmot
January 17, 2005
"Historic" should have been the tip-off. Generally, "historic" means rundown, tired, or not up to today’s standards. Certainly the 125-year-old Wawona Hotel qualifies as historic.
There’s a complex consisting of the main building, an annex, and four small cottage buildings. All have quaint wooden porches that amplify the sound of footsteps and make any wheeled luggage sound like a freight train. There is no television, radio, or air-conditioning. Our bathroom was tiny, with weak water pressure. Walls are paper thin: if someone sneezed next door, people in adjoining rooms would say, "Bless you." Our neighbor was reading "The Firm" by John Grisham… out loud. We thought about knocking on the wall and asking for quiet, but it was a fairly gripping yarn.
For entertainment, there’s a guy playing piano in the lounge from 5 to 9:30pm. It’s pleasant in a really low-key way to sit out on the main building porch listening for awhile, sipping on a drink. We took a night walk out onto the golf course and sat in the dark at the first tee watching a small herd of deer grazing 20 to 30 feet away. At first it was tense - on both sides - but they soon realized we were harmless and we realized we could carry on a normal conversation without bothering them. After 20 minutes, we went our separate ways.
When we return to Yosemite, we’ll try to stay in Yosemite Valley. If that’s a problem, we'll try the bed-and-breakfasts in Yosemite West or El Portal, private land just outside the park boundaries. We won’t be back to the Wawona.
From journal Yosemite - It's Spectacular!
September 28, 2006
West Covina, California
May 7, 2003
In 1875, Clark sold his establishment to Henry Washburn who renamed the site Wawona -- Miwok for "Big Trees". A year later, Washburn built Clark Cottage, the oldest structure in the complex, followed by the main hotel building in 1879.
Wawona is one of the oldest mountain resort hotels in California and a National Historic Landmark. Its verdant meadows, rushing streams, and tranquility make this a favorite of those who prefer a relaxed environment and the gracious charm of a bygone era. The hotel is located four miles from the park's south entrance and cradled between the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees and the Yosemite Valley.
Most of the hotel's 104 guestrooms open onto the Wawona's signature verandas and are reminiscent of European-style hotel rooms. Housed in six buildings, the rooms are furnished in period pieces and antiques. Fifty of the rooms have private baths while the rest are served by central restroom and shower facilities. All rooms offer daily maid service, but there are no telephones or televisions.
Like an aging "grand dame" the Wawona remains a classic but is showing the wear and tear of the years. We had one of the rooms with the private bath which were more expensive than the rooms without. Our evening was spent listening to the piano stylings and singing of Tom Bopp. He is a fine pianist who plays and sings for the guests of the Wawona since 1983.
From journal In search of California Gold
October 25, 2008
August 9, 2006
April 13, 2011
February 7, 2011
June 18, 2008
July 22, 2004
On one of my more recent trips to Yosemite, I wanted to stay in the Awahnee Hotel on the valley floor. Then I found out how expensive it is and took a reservation at the Wawona Hotel instead, which is located on Route 41 at the south entrance to the park. The Wawona's roots date to 1856, but the main building of the hotel as it currently stands was built in 1879. Built in the European style, the Wawona's buildings feature large verandas, and are furnished in period pieces and antiques. Modern renovations (the most recent in 2002) have been carefully designed to integrate modern needs with the charm of yesteryear.
The Wawona - celebrating its 125th anniversary this year - has 104 rooms, of which 50 have en-suite bathrooms. My room was on the second floor of the main building, facing into the well-groomed yard between the buildings. Being budget-conscious, I opted for the "no bathroom" option, thus saving me $40 for the night, which meant I had to use the central bathroom/shower facilities. (Had it been winter, I probably would have paid extra to not have to walk down the verandah!) I actually didn't mind that, because it reminded me of when I had gone to school in England!
None of the rooms at the Wawona have telephones or television, so remember that, if that's important to you. However, you will not be bored here in the evenings - singer/pianist Tom Bopp performs vintage songs of Yosemite in the lobby of the main building, and he is great fun, a great way to spend the evening. If you prefer sports, there is a tennis court on-site, a swimming pool (summer only), and a 9-hole golf course.
A favorite memory: after a great sleep, I woke up early, the sun barely peeking through the redwoods. When I walked out to use the bathroom facilities, wandered back the long way around the verandah, savoring the blissful quiet before the morning tourist stampede into the park had begun. Shafts of sunlight cut through the trees, burning off the wisps of ground fog drifting across the road and golf course across the street. Between that and enjoying a wonderful breakfast in the dining room downstairs, it was a great way to cap my weekend.
I look forward to the chance to return to the Wawona!
From journal The High Sierra - Yosemite National Park