We had met a couple at our RV park who had recently biked around Yosemite Valley and mentioned how The Ahwahnee Hotel was worth a visit. We were looking a place to have breakfast and popped in.
"Stephen T. Mather, an American conservationist and the first director of the National Park Service was trying to find ways to increase support and funding for the young National Park Service.
Yosemite was Mather’s favorite park. His vision for Yosemite included upgrading the Park’s concession operations and accommodations. The solution was to build a first-class hotel that would be open year-round to attract individuals of wealth and influence to support the National Parks.
A first-class hotel in a first-class National Park needed a first-class architect, and Gilbert Stanley Underwood fit the bill. Underwood was familiar with building in the Parks; he was the architect for the lodges in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.
Designers chose to decorate the hotel in a Native American theme to honor the people that called Yosemite home for thousands of years before the likes of John Muir ever experienced it for himself. Ahwahnee, which means land of the gaping mouth, was the name the first residents gave to Yosemite Valley. These first people, in turn, called themselves the Ahwaneechee (the people of Ahwahnee).
Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite opened for business on July 16, 1927.
Potentially, the most famous guest the hotel has ever hosted, Queen Elizabeth the II, rested her royal head on the fluffy pillows of The Ahwahnee during her tour of California in 1983. She also visited the Tunnel View during her stay. Numerous presidents have stayed at The Ahwahnee Hotel… John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan… From the entertainment industry… stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz… as well as Judy Garland." – Yosemite.com
"Yosemite National Park's luxury Ahwahnee Hotel has lost some of its sparkle. The grand lodge with Half Dome views has been downgraded to three out of five diamonds in AAA's rating system — it had long retained a four-diamond rating." –SFgate.com
After realizing the grand nature of this hotel, it was obvious we’d probably skip having a costly ($$$) breakfast here but glad we stopped in. As you leave, we noticed their displays of souvenirs and hotel accents.