The small town-like area of Wawona (Wawona Rd./Hwy. 41, 1.5 hours from Yosemite Valley) sits only a few miles from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. The historic Wawona Hotel was built in 1917 and also houses a popular restaurant as well as a store. Wawona also plays home to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center (trail from Wawona information station, open daily).
The first thing you’ll see is a big open barn housing an array of vehicles used over a century in Yosemite, from big cushiony carriages for rich tourists to oil wagons once used in an ill-conceived attempt to control mosquitoes on the ponds.
Onward, walk under the Vermont-style covered bridge to the main museum area. This rambling, not-overcrowded stretch of land contains many of the original structures built in the park—most over 100 years ago. Most were moved here from various remote locations.
Informative placards describe the history of Yosemite National Park through its structures, from the military shacks used by soldiers who comprised the first park rangers, through homes lived in by early settlers in the area presided over by stoic pioneer women.
Check your Yosemite Guide for living history programs and live demonstrations held at the museum.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition