Outdoor Club winter campers at brunch

Since 1998 (to 2020) at the end of the annual De Anza Outdoor Club winter Yosemite camping trip (and regularly after summer Tuolumne trips), many, if not most people, and often all trip members, have gone to Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee hotel (briefly named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) in a grand dining room with a 34′ high trestle beam ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows and twinkling chandeliers.

Photo below courtesy of the former park concessionaire Delaware North.

Ahwahnee DineroomDWN:

In recent years the Ahwahnee dining room was being remodeled so we did our own brunch, but previous to that . . .

Each year after we pack up the campsite/cabins at least half of the group (sometimes everyone) gets showers or otherwise cleans up, changes into decent clothes (Friday Casual or better suggested) and meets at the Ahwahnee hotel at mid day. Some have changed into dress uniform, as in airman (2005: Sergeant) Anello:

Click to go down the dining room to the end of this 3D view of the Ahwahnee Dining Room and you can see the window with a view of Yosemite Falls.

plates at brunch 1 by Alice Chen: plates at Ahwahnee brunch 2 by Alice Chen: plates at Ahwahnee brunch 3 by Alice Chen: plates at Ahwahnee brunch 4 by Alice Chen:

IF / when the grand brunch is reinstated, you will reeeeeally wish you had budgeted extra money for it. (Likely more money than the previous $56 plus tax.)

When the full brunch is in operation, people on a budget can order just a small entree instead of the whole brunch, but be prepared to be jealous.

Photo below, taken in the waiting area outside the Ahwahnee dining room, by Michael Gregg.

The sign elicited comments.

conduct themselves Michael Gregg photo:

as did this sign by one of the fireplaces: sign do not dry socks: sign do not dry socks

Brunch usually includes prime rib, ham, made-to-order (at least a dozen choices of ingredients) omelettes,

Ahwahnee brunch omelet and Prime Rib: Ahwahnee brunch ice sculpture and prawns:

bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon, green salad, fresh fruit, prawns, scrambled eggs, bacon, trout, poached salmon, eggs Benedict, oysters, chocolate covered strawberries, pancakes/waffles, orange juice, grilled and/or marinated vegies, various sliced fruit, cheese plate, pasta, chicken, potatoes or hash browns, madeleines, creme brulee, tarts, cheesecake, crepes, blintzes … all the desserts are freshly made in-house.

yosemite snow camp 2008 plate at brunch.: omelet at brunch: plate at Ahwahnee brunch 2008: desserts Ahwahnee brunch:

It’s a wonderful place to soak in the sunshine coming in the big windows, finally let your toes thaw, and go back for seconds, thirds, fourths (…?). It will set you back (Feb. 2020) cost $69.84: ($55.50, plus tax $4.35, plus 18% gratuity $9.99). (If you seat in a group of six or more people they add a required 18% tip and we always seat in groups that size or bigger). But people decide it’s worth it after eating instant mashed potato cups and the like in a campground or at a picnic area out in the cold all weekend.

People on a budget can order just a small entree instead of the whole brunch, but be prepared to be jealous. See the menu.

2004 pictures of chocolate covered strawberries and dancing to the music played on the grand piano (taken by who?)

Ahwahnee brunch chocolate covered strawberries:

2005 pictures below by Deepak Chandani.

Ahwahnee brunch Feb 2005 by Deepak Chandani: third platefull Ahwahnee brunch: Ahwahnee brunch by Deepak Chandani:

Group February 2006 photo by the campground host, Kathy Spalding, who came to brunch with us.

De Anza College group at Ahwahnee brunch 2006 photo by Kathy Spalding:

A few people from an August 2006 trip:

Aug 2006 brunch at Ahwahnee by William Chan:

2007 pictures of people’s food choices by Alice Chen:

plates at brunch 1 by Alice Chen: plates at Ahwahnee brunch 2 by Alice Chen: plates at Ahwahnee brunch 3 by Alice Chen: plates at Ahwahnee brunch 4 by Alice Chen:

do not feed the bear and endless backrub pictures from 2009:

ahwahnee do not feed the bear: Tim pretends to feed a stuffed bear food ahwahnee endless backrub: people in a cirle at table giving each other a backrub

2011: some people get quite dressed up:

at brunch 2011 winter trip: group around table at brunch in the Ahwahnee hotel dining room


Ahwahnee brunch 2012 400 pixels: people sitting and standing for a group photo


group photo at brunch 2014 winter trip: people standing behind and sitting at a dining table at the Ahwahnee hotel, Feb. 2014

At the end of the 2015 trip everyone on the trip went to brunch (oops, group photo with 2 brunch attendees missing):

snow camp brunch group photo 2015: a group of people in the Ahwahnee dining room

snow camp biggest table at brunch 2015: table for 12 at Ahwahnee brunch

snow camp 2015 2 tables at brunch: Ahwahnee brunch 2 tables of people

In 2017 about half the campers went to brunch,

group photo after brunch at the Ahwahnee dining room

and some of them danced.

grand piano in foreground, two dancers behind


16 people standing beneath chandeliers in a dining room

groups at two tables at the Ahwahnee hotel brunch


people standing in rows in the Ahwahnee dining room

2020 (most of the group):

people at dining table




Here are a few hints about the logistics of getting from the campground, Curry Village (briefly named Half Dome Village) or Yosemite Lodge to brunch in interesting weather .

This advice is for people who go to the shower house Sunday morning before brunch, but a lot of it applies any day you go. After packing up the campsites the campers go to Curry Village and get showers. People staying at Curry Village can decide whether to pack up first and then take showers or vice-versa, depending on how late they need to sleep. Especially in the winter when there are fewer people around, no one should go to the shower house alone.

Everyone changes into good clothes they kept clean during the adventure, at least ‘Friday casual.’ They wear their boots to the shower house and leave their good shoes in the car.

The shower house has blow dryers mounted on the walls, but you might want your own hair dryer.

Bring a couple of big plastic bags to keep shower spray off your clothes and (bring your own) towels.

two counters with sinksshower with a small seat just outside it for a bag

Some years the main shower house has been closed for cleaning 10 – 11 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. to midnight.

Most of the showers in small shower houses at Curry Village are only open to guests there. To find the accessible-to-the-public showerhouse (and swimming pool in summer), when you take the bus to Curry Village or if you drive and park in the free shuttle parking / Curry Village parking, look for a driveway to the left of the stores.

365 day a year accessible-to-the-public shower house is next to the (blue rectangle) summer swimming pool on the right up the service vehicles only road from the parking lot. The map below shows bus stops 14 and 20, and the road to the shower house / pool:

map with a blue pool, bus stops and parking lot

slightly plowed road between buildings

Up this service-vehicles-only road, on the right, is the shower house /pool entrance:

entrance to building with lots of snow

If you are doing your shower before brunch on Sunday, I suggest that when you go to the shower house, you leave your good shoes in the car and wear your snow boots. (Please do not put on perfume/cologne – people sitting near to you at brunch may have allergies.) After the shower/clothes change put the snow pants back on over your good slacks as you head back to the car.

If you are going directly to the Ahwahnee from Curry village, note that there is a section of road from Curry Village and/or the pines campgrounds on the way to the Ahwahnee that has you drive on the left hand lane and save the right hand lane for buses / ambulances only.

That road will take you to the edge of a round-about (counterclockwise circular road), bear right briefly on to the round-about and turn right (the round about is the tiny circle at the top right hand side of the green square indicating Yosemite Village Parking on the map below):

map with roads, river and a few locations

car turning right off a circular road

This sign is on the east edge of the round-about, coming from Curry Village and the Pines Campgrounds:

sign with arrows and village-store-medical-clinic-Ahwahnee-hotel-visitor-center lodge and park exits

after you exit the roundabout to the right, drive past the garage and more on your right, back of the main grocery store on your left and take a right at the stop sign on to Ahwahnee Drive.

SOME months of some years, depending on IF the the Road Pilot plan is in place, – – – People coming from Yosemite Lodge will drive around the circular round-about and exit on the far side of it from where they came on to it (follow the signs).

This sign is near the south end of the road around the Village (day-use) parking lot near where it enters the round-about:

sign listing Yosemite village store, medical clinic, Ahwahnee hotel, visitor center, Yosemite Valley Lodge, park exits

and drive past the garage and more on your right / the backside parking lot of the main grocery store on your left and make a right at the stop sign on to Ahwahnee Drive.

sign US DistrictCourt, Ahwahnee hotel medical clinic

– – – People who came to Yosemite for the day will travel into Yosemite valley on southside drive, and follow instructions to find the Ahwahnee Hotel at the end of the Ahwahnee hotel map page.

After the right turn on to Ahwahnee Drive,

sign US DistrictCourt, Ahwahnee hotel medical clinic

everyone will drive past the Medical Clinic on your left/ employee housing on the right, then past the Ahwahnee meadow on your right / small picnic area (Church Bowl) on your left.

When you get to the Ahwahnee the road you are on will approach a parking lot and have a deliveries road to the right, don’t take it.

sign with arrows that says hotel and deliveries

Stay on the the perimeter road that runs between the cliff face on your left and the parking lot on your right. This road then bears right across the far end of the main parking lot and bears left as you pull up under the porte-cochere (roofed two-lane driveway by the hotel main entrance) and drop off passengers out of the weather.

Under the porte-cochere there are two lanes.
a sign that says thru traffic keep left valet parking keep right

The right lane is for drop off/pickups and valet parking, the left lane is for thru traffic.

two lanes under a roof

And yes, more than one person got his large RV stuck when he ignored the “maximum clearance 11 foot 6 inches” sign.

tthree signs along a roof line, one saying maximum clearance 11 foot six inches

If it is precipitating . . .

snow covered hotel porte cochere

and you drop off passengers under the porte-cochere, people can change into good shoes and leave their winter boots, winter pants that were over their nice clothes, in the vehicle. Carry at least the warm/rain jacket with you if you want to do a club tour of the hotel after brunch. (We suggest you hold on to the warm/rain jacket instead of checking it at the dining room entrance, and just put it on your chair.)

The driver can then park the car or if it is precipitating and especially if you have spare money for a tip, have a doorman park it. The doorman will keep your keys and get your vehicle for you after brunch, no matter how long you linger

From the porte-cochere (covered entrance) walk down a long covered outside walkway to the hotel main building entrance. When you enter the hotel bear right down a long hallway to the sitting area by a fireplace near the entrance to the dining room (dining room lobby). We will wait until they tell us our tables are ready, then go in together. If the (dining room lobby) seating area is full, you could go around the giant fireplace to the other side and look for a comfy seat in the great lounge. OR we might have planned to meet before brunch for a mini-tour.

Restrooms are shown on the map. Men on the ground floor to the right just past the front desk as you go down the long hallway to the dining room, women up the stairs opposite the dining room lobby fireplace.

If your showering makes you run late, don’t just walk into the dining room looking for us, as you might be in a second seating. The people at the dining room entrance podium will know what to do.

If you ride the Yosemite Valley free shuttle bus to the Ahwahnee, or park in the parking lot, you will need to walk a bit out in the weather.

Below, the view from the free shuttle bus stop looking toward the Majestic (Ahwahnee) porte-cochere, notice the end of the white bus under the covered entrance towards the right hand side of the photo.

A photo of the Ahwahnee from Glacier Point, the dining room and kitchen take up the left wing you see below. You enter the hotel from the far side of the right wing of the building:

Find the locations of the parking lots, porte-cochere/entrance, dining room, restrooms and more at this Ahwahnee map.

beam along ceiling at Ahwahnee hotel

Anywhere in Yosemite, including at any of the Yosemite lodgings, you have the possibility of seeing animals, such as this bobcat on the grounds (cottage rooms area) of the Ahwahnee, a large reason why Yosemite park says: “pets must be restrained on a leash not more than six feet long or otherwise physically restrained.”

of an Ahwahnee cottage, photo by Alan  Ahlstrand

and here, after brunch, a student is comparing his paw to the footprint of a bear (notice the claw marks clearly visible in some of the bear prints):

person puts his hand in the snow next to a bear paw print

beam along ceiling at Ahwahnee hotel

See examples of what you might wear in the photos above, and for fun, this description of clothes to wear to Yosemite written by by Olive Logan in 1870:

“I was informed by one of the few ladies who had been to the Valley, whom I met in San Francisco, that it was next to an impossibility to accomplish the journey without arraying myself in a Bloomer costume. Pardon me that I recoiled at this. I feel that my charms are not so numerous that I can afford to lessen them by the adoption of this most ungraceful and unbecoming of dresses; but when she assured me that it was almost a necessary precaution against being thrown from the horse to ride astride, I saw at once that my time had come, and a Bloomer costume I must wear. The dressmaker to whom I applied had made others, and needed no instructions when I told her I was going to the Yo Semite. She carved me out a costume; but pardon me once more if I shrink from the task of describing it. It was simply hideous. “The larger the hat the better,” said my friend; and I remembered a “flat” which I bought last year for Long Branch, but never used much because of the high winds getting under it and carrying it away. I drew it out of my trunk, and she pronounced it just the thing. It stuck out in front and poked out behind, and was tied down over the ears with a ribbon. Cotton gloves, which fitted as cotton gloves alone can fit, completed the outfit.”

beam along ceiling at Ahwahnee hotel

For details about this Outdoor Club trip try these links:

links to things to do including ski/snowboard/ice skate/photo walk/hikes

Yosemite Falls hike ,

lists of gear you must bring,

first-timer’s instructions,

snow camp carpools and driving directions

and what to do during a Yosemite snow storm besides hiding in your tent

Clearing snow after a winter storm as viewed from a table in the dining room:

clearing snow outside Ahwahnee dining room:

Road trip advice and etiquette has practical advice from experienced and newbie carpoolers on cross country trips, including ways to keep from being so bored; planning before the trip; safety issues; drowsy driving; packing; road trip games, storytelling, debates and discussions suggestions; links to gas price watch sites, and how to deal with windows that are fogging up faster than your navigator can wipe it off.