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The Ahwahnee

| May 5, 2005

The Ahwahnee

One of my photos that will probably end up in the book, The Ahwahnee lodge was commissioned by Steven Mather, first director of the National Park Service.

Everyone knows the Ahwahnee. It’s been in books, movies, and there’s even songs written about it. It’s a beautiful hotel meant to stand the test of time.

The ‘grand dame’ of Yosemite Hotels, the Ahwahnee sits quietly tucked away along the edge of a small meadow on the eastern end of Yosemite Valley just under Royal Arches. In fact, it’s so close to some of the more major climbing routes that climber/adventurer/photographer Galen Rowell would often have steak dinner at the Ahwahnee after a climb.

Yosemite Association: “From its conception in the 1920s, the Ahwahnee was envisioned as a jewel to attract visitors to one of the most beautiful places on earth. The National Park Service, formed in 1916, was seeking additional federal funding in those early years to develop its park system.

Rapid growth in automobile travel, coupled with plans to build the first all-weather highway from Merced to Yosemite Valley, which opened in 1926, inspired park service director Stephen Mather to propose construction of a luxury hotel to attract influential people to the park.

“Scenery is a hollow enjoyment to a tourist who sets out in the morning after an indigestible breakfast and a fitful sleep on an impossible bed,” Mather once said. “

A little known fact is that the Ahwahnee is actually made of granite, steel, and concrete. The redwood pieces are really concrete ingeniously poured into molds and died to have the look of real wood.

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About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

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  1. Scott says:

    Is the Devils Bathtub behind the Ahwahnee? Are you working on a book or contributing to one? That is a great picture of the hotel.