Upper Mariposa Grove
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Southern Yosemite

The most famous feature in southern Yosemite is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, home to hundreds of these magnificent trees, including the 1,800-year-old Grizzly Giant. The grove is closed for restoration until 2017, though, leaving the main hiking attractions as Chilnualna Falls, an underrated waterfall hike, and Wawona Meadow, an easy loop trail that's home to dozens of wildflower species (in season) and is one of the few trails in Yosemite where dogs are allowed.

Southern Yosemite is also home to the Wawona Hotel, a national historic landmark. Dating from 1879, it's a mere 1,600 years younger than the Grizzly Giant. The aforementioned Wawona Meadow loop trail is across from the road from the hotel, and a popular swimming hole at the Wawona Swinging Bridge is a short ways down a side road here. You may also want to visit the Pioneer Yosemite History Center near the Wawona Hotel. It includes various historic buildings, a covered bridge, and a collection of stagecoaches.

Lodging

The historic Wawona Hotel has 104 guest rooms, half with private baths and most opening onto verandas. It's been entertaining distinguished guests since its completion in 1879, when Ulysses S. Grant stayed there. It's seven miles (11 km) from the Mariposa Grove and across the road from Wawona Meadow and a 9-hole golf course there that predates the area's incorporation into Yosemite. There's free bus service from the hotel to the grove in the summer (or there will be when the grove reopens, anyway).

Fish Camp, two miles (3.2 km) outside the southern entrance, has a handful of small inns; the not-at-all-small Tenaya Lodge, an all-purpose lodge with spa facilities and a variety of hosted activities; and the Narrow Gauge Inn, which has its own antique logging train.

Camping

The sprawling Wawona Campground (100 sites) is just up the road from the Wawona Hotel and Meadow. Summerdale Campground is a mile outside the park, between the south entrance and Fish Camp. Both require reservations and fill up quickly in the summer. Summerdale is closed winters; Wawona is open year-round.

Food

There's a restaurant at the Wawona Hotel and a mini grocery round the corner from it. In Fish Camp, there are two restaurants in the Tenaya Lodge and another at the Narrow Gauge.

Gas

Available at Wawona and in Fish Camp.

Hikes in Southern Yosemite

Trail Distance
miles (km)
Elevation Gain
feet (meters)
Crowd Factor Scenery Factor Difficulty
Chilnualna Falls 8.4 (13.5) 2,300 (700) Chilnualna Falls Crowd Factor: 3/5 Chilnualna Falls Scenery Rating: 3/5
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias 2.2 (3.5)* 1,200 (360)* Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Crowd Factor: 5/5 Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias  Scenery Rating: 5/5
Wawona Meadow Loop 3.5 (5.6)*  < 50* Wawona Meadow Loop Crowd Factor: 2/5 Wawona Meadow Loop Scenery Rating: 3/5
Wawona Swinging Bridge 0.75 (1.2)*  < 50 Wawona Swinging Bridge Crowd Factor: 2/5 Wawona Swinging Bridge Scenery Rating: 3/5
* For hikes that have more than one possible route, this table lists distance and elevation for the shortest route. Or the longest one. Whatever seemed the most useful at the moment. Listed distances for all hikes are round trip.

Hikes Outside Yosemite's Southern Entrance

Trail Distance
miles (km)
Elevation Gain
feet (meters)
Crowd Factor Scenery Factor Difficulty
Lewis Creek 3.0 (4.8)* 300 (90) Lewis Creek Crowd Factor: 2/5 Lewis Creek Scenery Rating: 3/5
Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias 1 (1.6) < 100 (30) Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias Crowd Factor: 2/5 Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias  Scenery Rating: 3/5
* Hikes with an asterisk have more than one possible route. Listed distances for all hikes are round trip.

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