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Ahwahnee Hotel: 5 Things We Love

Yosemite Valley's iconic lodge still enchants park visitors.

Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park, Calif., image
Photo caption
Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel is framed by glacially-polished granite cliffs.

Opened to fanfare in 1927 in Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahnee Hotel now commands more than $400 a night for a room and can sell out months in advance. But the lodge’s grand public dining room and salons, redone in the original style in 2011, welcome all visitors. (209) 372-1407,

1  Inglenook benches built into the mammoth granite hearth of the Great Lounge have warmed generations of guests. Curl up and savor a book by a crackling fire or settle on one of the plush chairs clustered in front of a picture window.

2  Eggs Benedict tastes better when served in a sunlit dining room with a 35-foot vaulted ceiling and exposed beams of sugar pine. Every table has a floor-to-ceiling view of either cascading Yosemite Falls or the pines atop Glacier Point.

3  The tiger mahogany grand piano in the Great Lounge, still played daily at teatime, has a storied past. In 1953, guests called the front desk to complain about loud partyers in the lobby. Management found Lucille Ball playing the piano and Judy Garland singing.

4  The Mural Room, a paneled den, invites visitors to play a version of Where’s Waldo? on a 1927 tapestry. In the style of an enchanted forest, the mural depicts Yosemite denizens. Black bear? Check. Sugar pine? Check. Deer and deer mouse? Check and check.

5  When the roof needed repair, its original gray and green slate tiles were swapped out for fresh stone from the same Vermont quarry. Tiles recycled as decorative coasters and picture frames are now sold at the gift shop ($30 for four coasters, $37 for a frame).

Photography by DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite/Kenny Karst

This article was first published in July 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.