Note: [The Wawona Hotel annex building will be closed for renovations in 2021, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a peaceful, relaxing stay in the area. Try a private Wawona cabin or vacation home instead.]
The Wawona Hotel occupies a key location within the Wawona community. Located just a short drive or stroll from The Redwoods In Yosemite, the main Victorian-era lodge is a National Historic Landmark, built in 1876. The main lodge and the collection of six smaller buildings constructed between 1876 and 1916 occupy the expansive grounds and hearken back to an older time.
There are many reasons to stay in Wawona. This location has always been known for its restful and welcoming ambiance. Early tribes named it “Pallahchun”, meaning “a good place to stop. Then, back in 1856, Galen Clark, a man who would become the first official guardian of Yosemite, built a 12-by-16 foot log cabin on the west end of the meadow and began welcoming travelers on the main trail to Yosemite Valley. Clark’s Station, later renamed Big Tree Station, was later mostly destroyed in a fire, but present-day Clark’s Cottage at Wawona Hotel survived and has been named in memory of Galen Clark.
Within Wawona Hotel itself, you’ll find authentic period furniture and décor that make it easy to envision visits by distinguished historic figures such as Ulysses S. Grant, and President Theodore Roosevelt. Movie buffs might also recall scenes from the 1964 film, 36 Hours, featuring both Yosemite and the Wawona Hotel.
Wawona Hotel offers 50 rooms with a private bathroom and 54 rooms with shared bathrooms. Although Wawona Hotel chooses to retain its historic nature without amenities such as telephones, televisions, or WiFi in the guestrooms, this historic hotel hosts a number of services and fun activities that benefit anyone staying within the Wawona community.
Wawona Dining Room Restaurant
Enjoy the historic architecture of this remarkable hotel with a meal in the Wawona Dining Room. Choose a table indoors in an airy dining hall beneath hand-painted lamps, or a summertime meal out in the fresh air on the veranda. The Wawona Dining Room serves classic American cuisine, and has a reputation for delicious dishes, and friendly service.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting at the right time, be sure to check out the expansive spread at the Wawona Hotel Summer BBQ as well.
Wawona Golf Course
Just across the street from the Wawona Hotel, you’ll find one of the oldest golf courses in the country. Established in 1918, the Wawona Golf Course challenges golfers to a nine-hole par-35 course. In keeping with its location in a national park, the park is one of a handful of organic golf courses in the United States. No pesticides are used on the lawn, and the greens are watered with reclaimed gray water. On select days, you can also enjoy a modern game of disc golf.
The Wawona Golf Course is currently closed until 2021 for renovations.
Thomas Hill Studio
Also located within the main Wawona Hotel complex is a small artist’s studio belonging to well-known landscape painter, Thomas Hill. One of the last painters of the Hudson River School, Hill initially had a studio in Yosemite Valley. However, the owner and builder of the Wawona Hotel, John Washburn, was courting one of Hill’s daughters and completed the studio for Hill in 1886.
Over the years, in addition to Hill’s studio, this building has served as a showroom, dance hall, and ice cream parlor. Now although it functions primarily as a visitor’s center, you can visit the free exhibit showcasing Thomas Hill’s work with a recreation of a floor to ceiling “salon hanging” typical of Victorian galleries in the 19th century, as well as reproductions of Thomas Hill’s paintings.
The Thomas Hill Studio is currently closed due to Covid-19 precautions.
Evening Musical Performances
The Wawona Hotel also hosts evening entertainment in the main parlor on a regular basis. Enjoy the large fireplace, a comfortable sofa, and the music of local legend, Tom Bopp. Tom’s performances combine piano, in a wide range of musical styles, singing and fascinating asides from his comprehensive knowledge of local history.