Wawona

 
 
Historic hotel and golf course
Wawona Hotel
 

“Wawona is like a bright green emerald set between the sparkling diamonds of Yosemite Valley’s waterfalls and the red rubies of the Sequoias in the Mariposa Grove.” – Yosemite visitor, early 1900s

Although Wawona was not added to Yosemite National Park until 1932, this large mid-elevation basin has hosted many people and activities for centuries and is home to numerous other natural features. Originally home to American Indians, the Wawona area later became a prosperous settlement and primary thoroughfare for people traveling to Yosemite Valley during the late 19th century. Galen Clark, the first state-appointed guardian of Yosemite, built Clark’s Station, which later grew to become the Wawona Hotel.

 

To Get There

  • Car: Wawona is located on the Wawona Road (the continuation of Highway 41 inside the park), 27 miles (45 minutes) from Yosemite Valley. Wawona is accessible by car year-round, though tire chains may be required from October through April. A gas station is open year-round in Wawona.
  • Bus: Yosemite Area Regional Transportation (YARTS), which operates between Fresno and Yosemite Valley, provides public transportation to Wawona on a seasonal basis.
 

Visitor Center and Museums

  • Wawona Visitor Center at Hill’s Studio (May to October): Ranger-staffed information desk and exhibit of Thomas Hill’s work, recreating a "salon hanging"—paintings covering the wall from floor to ceiling, typical of Victorian galleries in the nineteenth century. Offers wilderness permits year-round (self-registration permits available on porch when closed). The Wawona Visitor Center will be closed in 2021; there will be an informational area staffed with rangers at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. Wilderness permit pickups will still occur outside the visitor center.
  • Yosemite History Center (all year): See horse-drawn wagons, walk across a covered bridge, and visit historic buildings out of Yosemite's past. The history center explains how Yosemite was the inspiration for national parks across America and throughout the world. Originally constructed in different locations in Yosemite, many of the buildings were moved to Wawona in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The history center is always open, and explanatory signs and brochures are available. During summer, stage rides are available and some buildings are open for demonstrations or exploration. Check the Yosemite Guide for details. The stage rides will not be operating in 2021.

 

Activities

Take the Wawona Challenge!

Looking for a fun, free way to explore Yosemite and learn from park ranger naturalists? The National Park Service has teamed up with The Redwoods in Yosemite to create a set of challenges to test your wits in the Mariposa Grove and Wawona.

A variety of challenges in southern Yosemite National Park ask you to find hidden treasures, seek answers to nature and history questions, take funny photos, and explore the park in strange new ways! The quests appeal to different interests and ability levels.

Participation is free! Those who succeed win a prize. Pick up a challenge booklet from The Redwoods in Yosemite office on Chilnualna Falls Road in Wawona (8 am to 5 pm daily), or from the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza information station (9 am to 5 pm daily). Return to either location with your completed challenge booklet to claim your prize. Good luck!

 
Water cascading down granite cliff face.

Chilnualna Falls flows all year, with peak flow in May. Pronounced “Chil-noo-al-na,” this waterfall is comprised of five large cascades sliding through and over large granite formations above the Wawona area. A strenuous trail, Chilnualna Falls allows for you to view the cascades in many locations along the hike and also rewards you with expansive views overlooking Wawona during your uphill climb.

 
Horse drawn wagon driving through historic tunnel bridge.

In the Yosemite History Center, see horse-drawn wagons, walk across a covered bridge, and visit historic buildings out of Yosemite's past. During summer, stage rides are available and some buildings are open for demonstrations or exploration.

 
Giant sequoia trees towering over the forest.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and is home to over 500 mature giant sequoias. There is no shuttle service between Wawona and the Mariposa Grove for the general public. The welcome plaza has about 300 parking spaces and may fill up by late morning. Arrive by mid-morning to increase chances of finding a place to park.

Last updated: June 28, 2021

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Phone:

209/372-0200

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