When planning our Gold Country road trip last fall my family had decided to skip Yosemite. Thought I was the only one who had previously visited it didn’t quite fit into our travel route but as they say “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” and a few hours after departing we needed to change our itinerary. We decided to take advantage of the situation and make a detour into the national park. It turned out to be the best decision of the trip and our day in Yosemite was unforgettable.
We spent the night in Oakhurst and bright and early the next morning made our way to the park through the South entrance. It was an overcast, at times rainy, day but that did nothing to take away from the park’s beauty. Traveling along Highway 41 we passed through the main tunnel and came upon one of the most breathtaking scenes we had ever seen.
We pulled of at the nearest parking lot (as did everyone else) and just stood there admiring the view of El Capitan and Half Dome. I couldn’t help but hear the words of John Muir as I took in the scenery- “the mountains are calling and I must go.”
After awhile we managed to tear ourselves and away and continuing on through the park. Despite the weather (or perhaps because of it) there was beauty at every turn and we made a few stops to take it all in. We eventually found ourselves at Yosemite Village and the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee).
I’d long dreamed of visiting the hotel and had missed it on my previous visit to the park. Luckily, my mom and sister were as interested in it as I was and we happily agreed to check it out.
Opened in 1927 the hotel is a National Historic Landmark and is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever visited. In wonderful condition it maintains much of its original interior and there are delights at every turn.
See those benches at either side of the fireplace? They’re big enough for two people to sit on. Shannon and I sat there for sometime warming ourselves until we were nice and toasty.
Off the great hall are several cozy rooms offering the perfect place to sit and play a board game, write a letter or even indulge in a little catnap. By far my favorite room was the Mural Room.
Isn’t that the most enchanting mural? I’ve no idea of its provenance but whoever created it is a true artist.
One of the most popular parts of the hotel is the dining room and, luckily, we arrived just when it was about to open for lunch. Reservations are an absolute necessity but there’s a reservation desk next to the check in area and we were able to secure a seating. We explored some more and soon it was time to head to our table.
It’s like the Great Hall at Hogwarts!
Because we were one of the first lunch guests we were seated at the best table in the house. In fact, we were told it was the table Queen Elizabeth sat at when she visited. This could be utter rubbish but it was fun to pretend were as important as her. And why was it the best table in the house?
We were in an alcove surrounded by views of the surrounding park. It was so beautiful that it distracted from our meal which was probably a good thing. Prior to dining I had read the food was not very good since the new management company had taken over earlier in the year. Unfortunately, that was correct. The food wasn’t very good so I have no photos (and very little memory) of what we ate. It was a shame, especially since the price far outweighed the quality. It turned out to be the most expensive meal of our trip and, yet, our favorite. We all agreed we didn’t care about the food when we were surrounded by such a beautiful environment.
After lunch we made our way out of the park stopping at one final destination – the oldest building in Yosemite.
The Yosemite Chapel was built in 1897 and still holds services to this day. We stepped inside for a quick peak and then continued on toward our next destination. Though we had only one day in Yosemite it was an absolutely wonderful experience and proved to be one of the highlights of our trip.