Ahwahnee hotel – restoring views from rooms, balconies and public areas

The N.P.S. Yosemite Merced River Plan includes restoring views at the Ahwahnee hotel that have been lost as trees grew.

“Many areas of the hotel were aligned to take full and dramatic effect of the scenery.”

Removing trees close in to buildings also provides a more defensible zone for firefighters in case of a local forest fire.

This tree removal work was mostly completed during the time in early 2023 when the hotel was closed for the start on earthquake retrofitting.


(Look for pages H24, H25, H26 at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/management/upload/Volume-3A_MRP-FEIS_AppA-L_508.pdf) Note the TIMING section of the work plans (subject to change). “Work is scheduled to minimize potential impacts on bird and bat species. In general, September through December would be the best estimated time for vista clearing to take place, subject to site-specific conditions. All work that generates noise levels above 76 decibels near residential or visitor use areas will be performed between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Temporary road closures will generally not exceed one-half hour. Road closures will be scheduled in periods of low visitation when possible. Workers with signs will direct closures.”

The N.P.S. Merced River Plan has detailed lists of sizes of (diameters of) trees that were to be removed to restore some of the views.

“The Ahwahnee Hotel was constructed in 1927, so no tree established before 1927 should be removed.”

carved wood ceiling beam

The work to restore historic views at the Ahwahnee dining room

24 foot high ceiling, tables, chairs and tall windows

was completed in late summer 2019. The Yosemite Daily report said: “This project will also restore meadow habitat overtaken by conifers and help promote black oak health by removing the conifers overtopping the oaks as outlined in the Merced River Plan.”

Here, a photo of windows at the end of the dining room before the work,

which are the lower half of the tallest center windows in the photo above of the entire dining room.

trees through window

and a NPS photo from when the hotel was built, with upper Yosemite falls in full flow in the upper right-hand section of the window:

view thru a tall window

This photo, courtesy of the National Park Service of the “estimated area where trees will be removed,”
207 trees in the middle ground up to 500 meters from the window,” (the light gray colored almost rectangle extending to the left from the dining room wing of the hotel)
NPS photo with an overhead view of hotel grounds with a drawing of an area showing tree removal zone

(if you scroll through the 3D tour of the dining room you can see the view of Yosemite Falls from the window at the far end of the dining room.)


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The Yosemite Daily report announced, in early February 2023:

Scenic vista restoration around Ahwahnee Hotel
Scenic vista restoration is occurring to restore historic scenic views around the Ahwahnee Hotel. The hotel was designed to take in the views of half dome, glacier point, Yosemite falls, and eagle peak that were created by regular burning. With the cessation of regular burning at the turn of the century, pines and cedars grew into the meadows and around the hotel and eventually blocked the views. The removal of select trees will restore the historic views, open up meadow and black oak habitat as part of the Merced River Plan. Restoration is planned to be complete by March 1st. (G. Dickman)”

This was timed for during the earthquake retrofitting that closed the Ahwahnee: “The Ahwahnee, the National Historic Landmark hotel in Yosemite Valley, will be temporarily closed January 2, 2023 – March 2, 2023. This closure is necessary to complete seismic upgrades to the historic building and a refurbishment of the kitchen floor. The park staff looks forward to completing these essential projects to improve and preserve the hotel for future generations to enjoy.”

The Park service has a webpage about this (2022-2024 +/-) Ahwahnee Hotel renovation:

“$34.213 million project renovates structural aspects of the Ahwahnee Hotel to meet modern seismic safety standards for extreme landmark earthquakes (500-year and 2,500-year). . . including, but not limited to:

Improve visitor and employee safety by installing upgraded fire detection, alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire exits
• Rehabilitate the kitchen floor structure and utility infrastructure
• Upgrade the dining room heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system to improve visitor comfort
Correct over $18 million of deferred maintenance and repairs
• Reinforce the fireplace and stone chimney
• Anchor interior and exterior stone veneer
• Replace large plate glass windows in the dining room, solarium and other historic ground floor windows in public spaces . . .

Read all the details at: https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/gaoa-ahwahnee-hotel.htm

Another webpage https://www.travelyosemite.com/alerts/2022/the-ahwahnee-construction-faqs-jan-2023-until-oct-2023/

said, in early February 2023:

“The Ahwahnee will undergo some structural enhancements from January 2023 until October 2023. These enhancements are necessary to strengthen the structure, replace aging components and completely rehabilitate the kitchen . . . there may be some exterior walkway and public spaces closed. While an exact schedule is not available yet and there might be some modifications to constructions schedules, we will do our best to inform guests ahead of time regarding areas that may be closed during certain time periods. . . We are expecting low to intermittent medium levels of noise. The heaviest noise will take place during January and February when the hotel is closed to the public . . . The work will be between 9:00am -5:30pm and only on Mondays – Fridays . . . Room Service is not scheduled to be open during construction . . .

Will the Dining Room be open?

Yes, but not during March. During the month of March, dining services will be available in the Great Lounge and The Ahwahnee Bar. The Dining Room is scheduled to reopen in April 2023.”

(But the work took longer than expected and the dining room was not opened that soon. Instead, the Solarium and part of the Great lounge continued as dining areas.)

dining tables in large room

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Appendix H of the Merced River Plan shows views through many windows at the Ahwahnee that were somewhat or fully blocked.

The Great Lounge (also known as the Ahwahnee Lounge) facing towards Half Dome,

view through window

“One of the dramatic views that have been obscured by conifers is to Half Dome from the Lounge. 216 trees in the middle ground (94 Ponderosa, 122 Cedar) up to 250 meters from the building are recommended for removal.”


Winter Club Room facing towards Half Dome,
view thru window
“This vista is next to the Great Lounge, and falls within the same viewing corridor. . . No additional action should be taken at this location outside of managing the Ahwahnee Lounge vista.”

And here, the restored view from one of these floor-to-ceiling windows in the east side of the main Ahwahnee Hotel building:

view out a window


View from the ‘front lawn‘ looking towards Yosemite Falls, with a bit of the south end of the main building showing at the right in the photo:

trees block view of Yosemite cliffs
“14 Ponderosa, 1 Cedar and 2 Alder trees will be removed.”


In the photo below of the south end of the main building, the ground floor has the 2-story tall Solarium (with three large blue exterior window shades), above that the balcony for the Presidential Suite (with three large blue exterior window shades partially showing), and the top floor (lit up center window) the third floor suite parlor room:

end of hotel with cliffs behind

View (NPS photo from the plan) just outside the windows of Solarium looking towards Glacier Point,

section of forest
“132 trees in the middle ground up to 300 meters from the building are recommended for removal.”


Below, two panoramas taken from the Ahwahnee Lawn, just outside the Great Lounge (also known as the Ahwahnee Lounge), which was the major view to be restored.

The first photo was taken in December 2022, and you could only see sunset gold glow on Half Dome through the forest at the edge of the cottages area. The second was taken in April 2023, after the trees were removed.

panorama photo

panorama photo


When views in windows in the public areas were restored, many of the hotel rooms and balconies have enhanced views as well,

Until 2023, from most rooms on the east side of the hotel main building (even on a higher floor), you could not see see Half Dome, because Half Dome had trees blocking the view. (You were able to see sunset colors on the face of Half Dome through the trees.) The Merced River Plan called for historical views to be reclaimed.

Scroll through to the window of room 324 in this 3D tour and at the 3D tour of Ahwahnee Classic room 325. for what the view was like previously.

Here is the view from room 325 after trees were removed:

view thru window

Below is the view from room 224 after trees were removed:

view out a window

As with many of the rooms, to see the Half Dome view from room 423, you need to step up to the window:

view out window

From room 401, remaining trees still block the view of Half Dome:

view out window


and below, the view of Half Dome from the room 430 balcony, (taken when the trees were leafed out, a few months after the photos above).

Half Dome as seen from balcony


The Presidential Suite huge balcony at the (south) end and above it the third floor suite, have the same direction of view as from the Solarium and guests in these rooms have slightly enhanced views after the tree removal and/or trimming work was done.

waterfall and edge of hotel building

(In the photos above and below, the windows at the bottom are the Solarium (a public room you can book for an event), above them, the Presidential Suite balcony and at the top, the third floor parlor.)

looking up at a balcony

line of bright yellow bubbles

The Merced River plan https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/management/upload/Volume-3A_MRP-FEIS_AppA-L_508.pdf has many other projects to improve views by removing trees.
Many turnouts were made along Yosemite highways and parking lots were built for people to be able to park and take a look at or take picture of a famous view, but the view is blocked and these are included in the tree removals.

It says about the view from El Capitan Meadow (see page H-33):
“The El Capitan Meadow vista is in the northeastern portion of El Capitan Meadow. The vista includes a large portion of the Yosemite Valley with iconic natural landmarks such as El Capitan, The Three Brothers, Cathedral Rocks, and the Cathedral Spires. The viewpoint is part of the Yosemite Road Guide (marker V8). Views from Northside Drive to El Capitan are also listed as a contributing vista to the Yosemite Valley Historical District. The Meadow is a popular location for visitors to watch climbers ascending the Yosemite Valley walls. The Merced River Plan proposes constructing a If a boardwalk is built, the vista should be managed from that location. No trees should be removed from within the rockfall hazard zone.”
247 trees (152 Ponderosa, 97 Cedar and 1 Fir) are in the plan to be removed.

This is the view to be improved, shown in the plan:

El Capitan with trees in foreground
and below, before and after NPS photos of another El Capitan view tree clearing project:

before and after views of El Capitan


Learn about the Tunnel View Project:

Here, NPS photos of the Tunnel View before and after trees were cleared that had been blocking the view:

before and after view thru tunnel

And you can learn more about the science behind scenic vistas in Yosemite at


rock wall

Very little tree removal at the Yosemite Valley Lodge is planned.

But some rooms do have views of Yosemite Fall or forest

and others have no view, examples

one of the downstairs Cedar building rooms
with the full view of the parking lot, no patio and lots of foot traffic passing by your room,
or a Cedar Room with no patio and a view of the HVAC unit at the side of the gift shop
or of a fence

See details about view rooms, building layouts, adjoining rooms, rooms with bunkbeds, at Yosemite Valley Lodge here.



round sign that says The Ahwahnee

In a photo of the Ahwahnee taken from Glacier Point, the dining room and kitchen take up the left (west) wing you see below. When arriving you enter the hotel from the far side of the right (east) wing. The Solarium is the lower floor, 2 story tall half-circle room on the south (near) end of the building, with the Presidential Suite balcony above it and the third floor parlor above it. The “front lawn” is at the lower right hand side of the picture.

There is a larger version of the map below at map of the ground floor, and surrounding area of the Ahwahnee Hotel (and photos /descriptions of rooms, wildlife, waterfalls in the vicinity).

map of hotel rooms and public areas

The Ahwahnee hotel full sized map webpage has summer and winter photos of rooms, balconies, parlors, (and the views from some of them), including the interior of the Presidential Suite with the huge balcony at the (south) far end of the Ahwahnee from the parking lot, the large third floor parlor with fireplace, two main building ADA Suites, 4th and 5th floor rooms that share a balcony, the El Dorado Diggins Suite Jacuzzi tub , sixth floor Mary Curry Tressider Suite, Library Suite, Underwood room, Sunroom Suite (Sun Porch), Mather, Spencer, as well as the locations of the dining room, front desk and concierge, Gift Shop, Sweet Shop, bar with summer outside dining, Great Lounge, Under Lounge, Winter Club Room , Mural Room, Solarium, swimming pool, kitchen, restrooms, the staircase to mezzanine and elevators (guest elevator on right, bellmen on left).





row of rocks carved into brick shapes

A map and floor plans for the 24 Ahwahnee cottages (bungalows / cabins), including the classic cottages that have an alcove between the bedroom and the bathroom with a bed you can fit a child on, and a door between the bedroom and alcove for privacy, are at:
Yosemite Ahwahnee Hotel cottages, (bungalows / cabins) floor plans and map

And see: Ahwahnee Hotel Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rooms and suites.

row of rocks carved into brick shapes

Other hotel, cabin and tent cabin choices in Yosemite valley are at: Yosemite Valley accommodations


Other restaurants, cafeterias, coffee bars, pizza, grocery stores are at: Yosemite valley restaurants, coffee bars, cafeterias, food service and groceries

bear walking along fallen tree

The Yosemite National Park rangers would like you to call them
if you see a bear in Yosemite,
no matter where it is or what it is doing.

Since 2003 there has been a note in the Yosemite Guide: REPORT ALL BEAR SIGHTINGS! To report bear sightings, improper food storage, trash problems, and other bear-related problems, leave a message for the Bear Management team at: 1 (209) 372-0322. Your call can be made anonymously.”

bear with blue tag on ear
If you can, in all the excitement, try to notice if the bear has a tag (usually on the ear), the color of the tag and if possible, the number on it (the tag is large enough that with a telephoto lens you should be able to read the number).

bear with ear tag

From the Yosemite Daily Report newspaper:
“It is extremely important to remember to yell at bears that are in and around development, even if they are foraging on natural food. Though it is very tempting to get close for a picture, or just to watch these incredible animals, it is important not to give into this urge. Yelling at them if they are in residential areas or near people is critical to keep bears natural fear of humans. Giving bears plenty of space. When bears become too comfortable around people, they will often start causing damage to structures and vehicles, or will even become too bold around people, creating safety concerns.”

And the Yosemite Daily Report also said:
“Scare bears when you see them. . . in developed areas- Yell like you mean it!
Make as much noise as possible, try waving your arms, stomping your feet
or anything to make you look intimidating and to get the bear to run away.
We know it’s fun to see bears and it can feel mean to scare them,
but this is a simple way to truly help save a bear’s life.”

NPS bear tracks: bearlogo: from the Keep Bears Wild program NPS bear tracks:

stones forming a wall

Where were they when they got that great picture in Yosemite?

Where can I take a photo that looks like the one on a Yosemite postcard I just bought?
Places to take photos of Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Staircase Falls.