Galen Clark, an ailing gold miner from California, fell in love with the area as he passed through with a group of tourists on their way to Yosemite.
He returned to build a rustic cabin in the woods and established Clark's Station (later renaming it Big Tree Station), hoping to take advantage of Yosemite's popularity.
Eventually, he relocated and added a partner in 1870. Unfortunately, the business didn't do well, so became the property of Washburn, Coffman and Chapman.
When a kitchen fire (1878) devoured most of Clarks Station, the hotel and most of the outbuildings had to be rebuilt.
Mr. Washburn took on a new partner and they hired Joseph Shelly to design a new two story building, holding 25 guest rooms. The new hotel may have opened the summer of 1879.
By 1883, the name was changed to Wawona*. It had become a full fledged mountain resort...with a unique attraction!
Someone was paid to gouge an 8 ft. by 26 ft. tunnel into the base of a giant Sequoia which blocked the roadway. After this, visitors flocking to Yosemite also stopped by to see the Wawona Tunnel Tree (fell around 1968-69).
The hotel continued to attract tourists when the Wawona area was added to the National Park system in 1932. It recently (March, 2002) underwent a renovation and now offers 48 Victorian-style guestrooms.
The Wawona Hotel is located in the lush meadowlands of the Wawona Valley. *The name Wawona comes from an Indian word meaning "Big Tree". For a list of the hotel's activities or reservations see website below.