Wawona Things to Do
Mariposa Grove - Giant Sequoias
The Maiposa Grove is one of three stands of giant sequoias located in Yosemite National Park. It's also the biggest and the easiest to get to.
There is a road from Hwy 41 to the lower grove, but this road is sometimes closd in high season if the lot is full. If this happens, then you'll have to take the free shuttle from the parking lot at the Wawona store. The ride is short, comfortable and cool - waiting in the line will be none of those things!
Once there you can hike through the lower grove or take a tour to the upper grove (read my scathing review under transportation). You can hike to the upper grove as well, but it's about 2 miles and all uphill.
It's hard to really appreciate how big these trees are from ground level... you get a better feel for it on the hike downhill. But there are some really magnificent specimens, and they're really awe-inspiring (even for someone like me who grew up in tree country). There's no need to make a whole day out of it, but a lower grove hike can be a good lo-energy morning or afternoon trip - provided you don't spend too much time on shuttle buses.
Pioneer History Center
Yosemite's many beautiful sights speak for themselves... and it's a good thing too because most of the museums in and around Yosemite are pretty awful.
One notable exception is the Pioneer History Center in Wawona. The artwork here is architecture - historic structures moved to one spot from all over Yosemite. The covered bridge is, I believe, the only thing that hasn't ben moved. The stories behind the buildings are all very nice, but it's great just to walk through and just feel the history!
This a great place to take kids - it's right next to the parking lot and easy walking distance to the store which is well stocked with ice cream! There's a horse stable here as well, though it wasn't open on the day I went. If you like old architecture and like it all in one place then this is the place for you! Honestly though, the Yosemite PHC blows doors on any of the so-called museums Valley proper.
1 Hotels in Wawona
Yosemite National Park, Wawona, California, United States
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples
Sequoia Grove Shuttle at Wawona
The lower grove of giant sequoias is easily accessable from the parking area, but to get to the upper grove you have to either hike uphill or take the "tour." The tour is just an open trolley towed by an International Harvester pickup, with the driver making comments and pointing out noteworth trees along the way.
While the trip was a little bumpy, what was worse was that the "tour" was not paricularly informative or even interesting. The tour guide did her best with the limited "material" she had to go on. The trip up took maybe 30 minutes, where we stopped briefly at the Mariposa Grove Museum - a dark, decrepit log cabin with thoroughly unintersting exhibits and one VERY bored ranger. Here you had the choice of staying on the tour and going back down, or getting off and hiking the 2-mile trail to the lower grove. I chose to do the latter, and the hike own was pretty - though somebody needs to do some cleaning up of the 'detritis' - the sheer amount of dead wood and debrs on the forest floor really detracts from the majesty of the sequoias.
Still, the "tour" would have been worth doing, except that...
1. Oweing to the aforementioned fire, the Grove was packed, and the first tour I could get on was 2 hours after I purchased my ticket, and...
2. That ticket cost $11!
I would highy recommend that you skip this tour. You can walk up if you're in halfway decent shape, and there's plenty to see in the lower grove if you just want to take it easy.Related to:
- National/State Park
Wawona Tourist Traps
Upper Sequoia Grove Tour
Please see my description of the "tour" under transportation tips. The tour is really only good as a shuttle to get to the upper grove and hike down. But at $11 for an adult fare, it's one expensive shuttle.