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Yosemite Park Hotels - Yosemite Park Hotels--History, Luxury, and Eco-Friendly Beauty

glass falls windows ceiling

Yosemite National Park was one of the first wilderness parks in the United States. Within its 1,200 square miles are grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, deep valleys, a vast wilderness area, and it is spotted with spectacular waterfalls. The Park is open every day (during daylight hours) of the year with no reservations required to visit.

Each season at Yosemite has its advantages and spectacular sights to see. Since Yosemite Falls is fed by snowmelt, the peak flow arrives in late May, but by August, the Falls are dry, at least until the winter snows arrive. Yosemite Park is a kaleidoscope of color in the summer. The hillsides are covered with redbud, Sierra onion, pentstemon, lupine, Tuolumne meadows, and sub-alpine flowers. About July, you’ll also find shooting stars, yarrow, gentian and elephant’s heads. In the 1920’s, the National Park Service Director, saw that the Park needed accommodations to suit the affluent, influential travelers. Hotels like the Ahwahnee began drawing even more visitors to the park.

Yosemite Park hotels provide historically fascinating places to stay which accent the Park itself. Let’s look at just two. The Ahwahnee shines like the AAA® Four-Diamond hotel it is. The site was once a native Miwok village, chosen for its exposure to the sun and stunning views. Known for its magnificent architecture and façade. The Ahwahnee was designed specifically to fit its natural surroundings, which include Glacier Point, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls. This hotel in Yosemite Park has housed queens and presidents, who have enjoyed a balance of elegance, hospitality, and history.

The Ahwahnee’s design was completed in 1927—combining Art Deco, Native American, Mid-Eastern and the Arts and Crafts Movement in its stenciling, lighting fixtures, woodwork, and china patterns. Its grand public spaces features huge stone fireplaces, rich tapestries, hand-stenciled beams, and elegant stained glass. The Ahwahnee’s dining room hosts many of the country’s culinary events. The room itself features ceiling-to-floor stained glass framed windows, and a 34-foot-high ceiling with large sugar pine trestles.

This Yosemite Park Hotel houses a “Great Lounge” which is 77’ long and 51’ wide with 24-foot-high ceilings, enhanced by floor-to-ceiling windows, topped with hand-stained glass panels that bathe the lounge in kaleidoscope light during the day. Native American hand-woven baskets decorate the interior along with rustic wrought-iron chandeliers that accent the ceiling during the day and warmly light the hall at night.

The Ahwahnee’s solarium receives light from three sides, while it offers a view of Glacier Point. The solarium’s sun-filled ambiance includes an indoor fountain sculpted from local jasper and surrounded by a variety of green and flowering plants. Many special events and wedding receptions take place there every year.

Another of Yosemite Park’s hotels that stands out is the “Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.” It is an idyllic place to stay for families, group retreats and visitors looking for royal comforts after exploring the wilderness. In 1998, it was redesigned with an emphasis on glass work and wood detailing that blends well into its surroundings. Landscape is confined to indigenous trees, shrubs and wildflowers reflecting well the natural beauty of the Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite Lodge at the Falls continues to update. They opened two prototype, eco-friendly guest rooms in 2010. Their designers based choices on recycled content, sustainability, durability, and proximity of manufacturing locations. The plan is to renovate all 245 rooms. The insulation for the “green” rooms is blown-in cellulose, increasing heating and cooling efficiency. It’s made of 85% recycled newspaper and 15% boric acid as a fire retardant. The former windows have been replaced with double pane, energy efficient windows. Exterior aluminum cladding has electro-statically applied paint which is baked on, minimizing maintenance needs.

The new shower and bath fixtures at Yosemite Lodge’s prototype rooms are water-efficient models. Every toilet will save 5,000 gallons of water annually. The countertops strikingly beautiful surfaces are made from 85% curbside recycled glass. They are paired with drinking glasses made from former wine bottles. With wall paint that significantly reduces off-gassing, recycled flooring materials, 100% organic cotton sheets produced in a solar-powered factory, and rustic, durable furniture with inset bow tie joinery, these rooms are truly “green.” This will undoubtedly be the future for hotels not just in Yosemite, but everywhere.

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