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Yosemite: Where to Go and What to Do (1888) by George G. MacKenzie


CHAPTER VI.

Wawona.

The stage route from Raymond and the roads from Madera, Mariposa and elsewhere converge at this point. Ever since the discovery of Yosemite the site of Wawona (formerly Clark’s) has been famed as a resort for travelers seeking health and pleasure. Its attractions—natural and artificial—are perhaps unrivaled in the world of mountain resorts, unless by their neighbors of Yosemite. Many persons while in the mountains prefer Wawona to Yosemite as their headquarters, as it has some advantages not pertaining to the Valley, while at the same time the latter is easy of access.

Wawona means Big Tree, and the Mariposa Big Trees may he visited in an afternoon. (See Chapter on Big Trees.)

Signal Peak (the highest point of the Chowchilla Mountains) is in front, westwardly, of the Wawona Hotel. Washburn & Co., the owners of that house and of the stage line from Raymond to Yosemite, have completed a good carriage road to the very summit of the Peak. People who do not care to ascend mountains by the usual methods of walking or horseback-riding may now comfortably obtain a view which ranks with the grandest in the Sierra, overlooking not only a sea of snow-capped mountains, but the vast Valley of the San Joaquin.

The Chilnooalna Falls (distant five miles) are about 300 feet high, and are among the most exquisitely beautiful scenes of that kind. A good trail enables visitors to reach the Falls conveniently, and the ride or walk up to the Falls is by a succession of charming cascades. Days may be spent in supreme contentment in this charming place. It has been less known than it deserved to be, for until the trail was made (in ’87) the approach was laborious.

The South Fork of the Merced River runs by the Wawona Hotel. In that stream and its tributaries is an abundance of trout, so that the angler (though he be a novice) can obtain plenty of sport. Deer are quite numerous all through the neighborhood, and a hunter having an ambition to kill a bear will have no great trouble in attaining that end. Grouse and ducks are found plentifully in the vicinity.

The summer climate of Wawona (of which the altitude above the sea is about 4000 feet) is perfection itself. The heat is never excessive, while the dry atmosphere is most exhilarating. Sufferers from lung troubles derive marked benefit from the influence of this air.

The Wawona Hotel
[click to enlarge]

The Wawona Hotel is a constant cause of wonder by tourists. Coming up to a wild mountain region, and leaving railways far to the rear, they often expect to find rather rough and incomplete hotel accommodations. Their surprise is agreeable when they discover themselves in a house that leaves nothing to be desired by the most dainty and exacting of visitors.

The summer studio of Mr. Thos. Hill, the artist, whose fine paintings have won him a wide celebrity, is at Wawona. It is always open for the reception of visitors, and is exceedingly well worth a visit.



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