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.”

(Look for pages H24, H25, H26 at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/management/upload/Volume-3A_MRP-FEIS_AppA-L_508.pdf)

And note that funding for these projects comes and goes, so there is no way to know when projects might be completed.

Appendix H of the Merced River Plan shows views through many windows at the Ahwahnee that are /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.”


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.


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

including some on the east side above the Lounge and Winter Club room area.

For example, this balcony is on the south end / east side of the building (left = room 430, right = room 426):

looking up at two balconies with a wooden panel between them

Below is balcony (room 430) showing, on the left in the picture, the wooden partition that separates it from the next door room balcony, making it semi-private. The fourth floor is the highest floor in that wing of the main building. Because this balcony is roofed, it has more protection from the weather than some of the other Ahwahnee Hotel balconies.
small covered 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 can expect enhanced views when the tree removal and/or trimming work is 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

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

(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 will be removed to restore some of the views.

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

line of bright yellow bubbles

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. Most of the views to be improved are of Half Dome on the east side and Glacier Point on the south end of this main hotel building.

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 full sized map shows 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).

The Colonial Room is upstairs above the Winter Club room, the Tresidder Room is upstairs above the Mural Room, the Tudor Lounge is upstairs above the Under Lounge.

At the top of the map the roadway to the Valet Parking only lot is noted, as well as the loading dock, with no parking, (but with occasional RVs who try to drive into it and get stuck).
Also on the map you can find Royal Arch Creek and the walking route to the cottage rooms and wedding lawn, as well as the free shuttle bus stop, Porte-cochere (roofed driveway) with a roofed walkway to the main entrance of the hotel.

A map and floor plans for the Ahwahnee cottages are at:
Yosemite Ahwahnee Hotel cottages, (bungalows / cabins) floor plans and map

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

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


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

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

From the Yosemite Daily Report newspaper:
β€œIt 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.”


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.