One of the world’s iconic views is the Yosemite Valley Tunnel View named for the vista when emerging from the tunnel on Wawona Road (Highway 41) that brings visitors into Yosemite Valley.
Getting to this Tunnel View vista point takes some mountain driving when approaching from Wawona Road/Highway 41. The drive from Wawona Hotel takes 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and good road conditions and climbs along hillsides at 5,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation where there are no services, few structures and limited places on the road to stop.
An exhibit I saw in the Visitor Center at Kings Canyon National Park said Giant Sequoia tree rings revealed wildfires in the Sierra on average about every 13 years over the past thousand years.
Places like Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Village and Ahwahnee Hotel have extremely limited parking. When the parking is gone you may be stuck in traffic for some time trying to get back out of Ahwahnee Road to find an available parking lot space.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” – John Muir
Ahwahnee Lodge is past Yosemite Village on dead-end Ahwahnee Road.
The parking lot at The Ahwahnee was full at mid-day on a weekday in early May so don’t expect to find easy parking here on a weekend in mid-summer. The entire Village was packed with cars. I parked at the picnic area between the village and The Ahwahnee and walked ten minutes to the hotel on the paved path while watching out for bicycles on this flat path between the Village and the hotel.
‘So move your feet from hot pavement
And into the grass’
– Arcade Fire “Suburbs”
Main tip for Yosemite is ditch the car whenever possible. There are free busses circulating around the park and this alleviates the gridlock of car travel in the valley.
The Ahwahnee at Yosemite
This historical hotel is certainly a destination to visit if you are hanging out in Yosemite and want to sit on a lovely patio or lodge community room looking out to the mountains and woods. It is like the suburbs in a cooler setting.
The dining hall is world-famous for its cavernous wood beam ceiling.
I have to say I was shocked when I saw the hotel rates as I planned my trip to Yosemite. The basic room at The Ahwahnee costs over $500 per night after tax.
The hotel’s location is the selling point rather than the luxury aspect. The rooms are nice, but more like a $200 hotel room in most cities and resorts.
The luxury is having the money to be sleeping in comfort in one of the most desirable locations on earth – the heart of Yosemite Valley.
Paths from The Ahwahnee meander along the river towards Half Dome and the eastern end of Yosemite Valley past the vehicle road access.
Mirror Lake provides a photographic opportunity for reflection.
Granite walls tower above a serene lake on a warm sunny day in May.
The trail continues east to the high alpine Sierra country.
Yosemite Lodge at the Falls
There are 226 lodge rooms with private bath and patio/balcony. There are 19 slightly smaller standard rooms and 4 family rooms that can sleep six. None of the rooms at Yosemite Lodge have air conditioning.
Sample rates: Most rooms are booked for summer. The calendar today shows only six dates available between now and Labor Day in September.
Yosemite Lodge, Monday September 5, 2011 (Labor Day)
- Standard Room = $192
- Lodge Room King Bed = $219 + $24.09 tax (11.0%) = $243.09
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir
There is more availability for summer months at the Tent Cabin locations, but even these have limited open dates for June to August 2011.
Curry Village Tent Cabin
No Heat, shared bath = $96 (double bed and three singles)
Housekeeping Camp Tent Cabin
Electrical outlet, one double and bunk beds, bear storage lockers = $94/night.
Related loyalty traveler posts:
Yosemite lodging south entrance Highway 41 from Fresno – photos and hotel lodging options between Fresno and Yosemite Valley (5-16-2011)
The mountains are calling and I must go – Kings Canyon National Park Highway 180 scenic drive (5-15-2011)