Stephen T. Mather agreed to lead the Park Service in 1915, at a time when there were just 16 national parks and the public was indifferent to the concept. Today there are 58 magnificent parks, and through the years, the careful planning and inspiration of Mr. Mather has made the parks beacons for people who hunger to experience nature firsthand. The popularity with human visitors has provided the political capital to preserve several natural wonders and ecological habitats.
Mather envisioned the national parks to be places of beauty and relaxation and accessible to all. In Yosemite, he directed the creation of three distinct levels of comfort to cater to the full spectrum of national park visitors.
The highest level of accommodation would be a first-class hotel that provided all the amenities necessary to attract and satisfy the wealthy and influential. A second level of accommodation would provide year round tents with a central area for services such as a restaurant and toilet facilities. He also set aside space for frugal visitors who preferred to camp with their own tents and camping equipment. Today, the national park system pretty much follows Mather’s plan.
We were entertaining a visitor from Japan this week, helping him with his English. Since we could only stay one night, we decided this was the time to ignore the budget and stay at the famed Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite Valley, one of Mather’s most-loved first-class hotels. It is truly elegant on its own spacious grounds, surrounded by the almost incomparable beauty of the 750,000-acre National Park. The cabins combine down-home rustic charm with elegance. The staff employs one of those ‘the guest is always right’ hospitality styles that make you feel at home. The main dining room, where we had a well-served dinner and breakfast, is featured in the attached picture.
A night at the Ahwanee is something everyone should be treated to at least once. If the economy picks up, in another five years or so, maybe I can re-finance the house and come again.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers