Yosemite's Hauntingly Elegant Ahwahnee Hotel - A Peek into its Spooky History
Tuesday 9th, July 2024
Yosemite National Park is globally celebrated for its awe inspiring natural beauty, featuring iconic landmarks such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and some of the longest and most scenic hiking trails, including the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. However, beyond its captivating landscapes, the park harbours a lesser known allure, the paranormal activity at the Ahwahnee Hotel.

The Ahwahnee Hotel, nestled in the heart of Yosemite Valley, is renowned for its luxury and historic significance. Constructed in the 1920s, this grand establishment was a response to the need for upscale accommodations in Yosemite, designed to attract visitors from the upper echelons of society. Despite its elegance, the Ahwahnee Hotel is reputed to be the most haunted lodging in Yosemite.

Mary Curry Tressider and her husband, Donald Tressider, are among the hotel's most well known spectral residents. The Curry family, through the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, were pivotal in the creation of the Ahwahnee Hotel. Mary and Donald resided on the sixth floor of the hotel, where Mary continued to live after Donald's sudden death in 1948. Mary herself passed away in 1970, but guests and staff report that her spirit remains active within the hotel. Visitors often claim to see Mary dancing in the common rooms or feel her presence as she tucks them in at night.

One of the hotel's more famous ghostly visitors is the former US President, John F. Kennedy. During his stay, Kennedy, who had a bad back, requested a rocking chair for his room on the third floor. Although rocking chairs are no longer part of the hotel’s furnishings, guests occasionally report seeing one appear and gently rock, suggesting that Kennedy's spirit might still be enjoying his stay.

The Ahwahnee Hotel's historic charm extends into pop culture. Its design and decor inspired sets for Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Stephen King's novel, "The Shining". The hotel's elevators and surrounding decor closely resemble those in the movie, adding to its eerie yet captivating atmosphere.

The Ahwahnee Hotel's origins date back to a time when Yosemite struggled to attract visitors due to a lack of suitable accommodations. The US government, aiming to increase tourism, decided that a luxurious hotel was necessary. Despite initial plans for a hotel near Yosemite Falls being scrapped due to funding issues, the merger of two companies into the Yosemite Park and Curry Company facilitated the construction of the Ahwahnee Hotel. The final cost was nearly double the original estimate, amounting to approximately €1.1 million, but it was an investment well spent, as the hotel quickly became a favourite among Hollywood elites, socialites, and presidents.

During World War II, the Ahwahnee Hotel was temporarily transformed into a hospital for the Navy from 1943 to 1945. After the war, the hotel reopened and continued to attract guests, maintaining its status as a premier destination in Yosemite.

Today, the Ahwahnee Hotel retains much of its original 1920s grandeur, though it has undergone necessary upgrades for safety, including seismic retrofitting. The hotel's prime location offers stunning views of Yosemite Valley’s landmarks, such as Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls.

Visitors planning a stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel, particularly during peak season, are advised to book well in advance. Off season reservations may offer more flexibility, but the hotel remains a popular choice year round.

Currently, the Ahwahnee Hotel is undergoing seismic retrofitting, expected to continue throughout 2024. While the hotel remains open, guests should be prepared for some construction noise. However, with Yosemite’s natural splendour just outside the door, few will be inclined to remain in their rooms for long.

For those intrigued by history and the paranormal, the Ahwahnee Hotel offers a unique blend of luxurious accommodations and a touch of spectral mystery, making it a must see destination in Yosemite National Park.
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