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Wawona Hotel

Coordinates: 37°32′11″N 119°39′13″W / 37.53639°N 119.65361°W / 37.53639; -119.65361
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Wawona Hotel and Thomas Hill Studio
Wawona Hotel in 2005
LocationOn CA 41 in Yosemite National Park, Wawona, California
Coordinates37°32′11″N 119°39′13″W / 37.53639°N 119.65361°W / 37.53639; -119.65361
Area16.5 acres (6.7 ha)
ArchitectWashburn Brothers
Architectural styleLate Victorian
NRHP reference No.75000223[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 1, 1975[1]
Designated NHLMay 28, 1987[2]
Nighttime view of the Wawona Hotel, 2009

The Wawona Hotel is a historic hotel located within southern Yosemite National Park, in California. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987, and is on the National Register of Historic Places .[2][3][4]


The Wawona Hotel is one of the oldest mountain resort hotels in California, and a classic of Victorian era resort design. The Victorian style hotel was built in 1876 to serve tourists visiting the nearby Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum). As tourism increased, through 1916, the hotel 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 featured prominently in the 1964 World War II thriller 36 Hours, starring James Garner and Eva Marie Saint, in which the hotel serves as a U.S. military hospital in Waldshut, Germany.

On March 1, 2016, the Wawona Hotel was renamed Big Trees Lodge[5] due to a legal dispute between the U.S. government, which owns the property, in conjunction with the new concessionaire, Aramark, and the outgoing concessionaire, Delaware North, which claimed rights to the trademarked name.[6] The hotel regained its historic name on July 15, 2019, when a settlement was reached in the dispute.[7]

Thomas Hill studio[edit]

Thomas Hill (painter) (1829–1908), a renowned landscape painter of the Hudson River School, had a studio at the Wawona Hotel late in life. He used the hotel pavilion as his painting studio and completed numerous works of the region.[2][3] This is included in the listing on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Wawona Hotel is located 4 miles (6.4 km) from the park's south entrance, between the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees and the Yosemite Valley. It is one of the few historical period hotels still standing within Yosemite National Park's boundaries.

Most of the Wawona Hotel's 104 guestrooms open onto one of the hotel's deep verandas, which wrap around the first and second floors; they have open views of the gardened and natural landscapes. The hotel includes six historically distinctive buildings, built between 1876 and 1916. The rooms are furnished with antiques, period pieces, and vintage elements, and have no telephones or televisions in them. Outdoor recreation choices include quiet nature walks or scenic drives, and when snow arrives, nearby cross-country and downhill skiing and snowshoe routes.

Across from the hotel is a nine-hole 3,035 yards (2,775 m), par 35 golf course, Yosemite National 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Wawona Hotel and Thomas Hill Studio". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 25, 2007. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Wawona Hotel and Studio, 1985, by Laura Soullière Harrison". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service. 1985.
  4. ^ "Wawona Hotel and Studio--Accompanying 43 NPS photos by Laura Soullière Harrison, exterior and interior, from 1985". National Park Service. 1985.
  5. ^ Alexander, Kurtis. "No longer the Ahwahnee: new names for Yosemite landmark sites". SF Chronicle. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  6. ^ Therolf, Garrett (January 14, 2016). "Yosemite's famous Ahwahnee Hotel to change name in trademark dispute". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  7. ^ Wigglesworth, Alex (July 15, 2019). "Yosemite to restore names to historic attractions under $12-million settlement". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 16, 2019.

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