The Wawona Hotel is one of the oldest mountain resort lodge’s in California, and a classic of Victorian era resort design. The Victorian style lodge was built in 1876 to serve tourists visiting the nearby Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. As tourism increased, through 1916, the lodge built additional rooms and facilities. In addition, it cut more forest trails, as well as paths along the south fork of the Merced River.
The hotel is located in the town of Wawona, 4 miles (6.4 km) from the park’s south entrance, between the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequois and Yosemite Valley. It is one of the few historical period lodge’s still standing within Yosemite National Park’s boundaries.
Most of the 104 guestrooms open onto one of the lodge’s deep verandas, which wrap around the first and second floors; they have open views of the gardened and natural landscapes. The lodge includes six historically distinctive buildings, built between 1876 and 1916. The rooms are furnished with antiques, period pieces, and vintage elements. There are no telephones, televisions, or WiFi in the guestrooms (most have shared restrooms).
Across from the lodge is a nine-hole 3,035 yards (2,775 m), par 35 golf course, Yosemite Park’s only such facility. It is one of the few within any U.S. National Park. The course is open daily from spring to fall, weather permitting. In operation since 1918, the golf course is the oldest in the Sierra Nevada.
The lodge is featured prominently in the 1964 motion picture 36 Hours.
Thomas Hill Studio (located on the grounds of the Wawona Hotel)
Thomas Hill (1829–1908), a renowned landscape painter of the Hudson River School, stayed at the Big Trees Lodge toward the end of his life. He used the lodge pavilion as his painting studio and completed numerous works of the region. This is listed separately on the National Register of Historic Places.