Awhanee?... Awani?... Ahwanee?... Awanee?... Ahwahnee?...What does it all mean?
There are lots of creative ways to miss-spell the Native American word that has become the name of one of Yosemite's most popular in park hotels, but regardless of how you spell (or miss-spell ) the name, there is only one translation: “place of the gaping mouth.”
Wait a minute...What? … That doesn't exactly conjure up restful feelings of a good-nights sleep. And to add insult to injury, the name “Yosemite” translates to “They are killers valley.” Yikes! Not exactly an accurate description for what is arguably one of America's most beautiful, tranquil and serene national parks.
Why would anybody want to stay at a destination that roughly translates to “Gaping Mouth Hotel - in - They are Killers Valley.” This gives the movie “The Shinning” a whole new perspective, as many of the scenes from that movie were filmed at this famous, or should I say 'infamous' hotel. In order to understand, we need to go back in time...
There once was a tribe of Native Americans that settled in the beautiful valley they had named “Ahwahnee”. After seeing the unique valley with its very distinctive mountains one can understand why they called the area “place of the gaping mouth.” This one tribe had occupied the valley for so long that ancestral stories recall a time when the valley once had a dazzling lake that covered most of the valley.
Many centuries later an army battalion was sent into the area to remove the native tribe named the Ahwahneechees. The natives fought hard and viciously for the valley that they loved. They were so violent that the neighboring native tribes called them “yohhe'meti” meaning “they are killers.” An unfortunate mistranslation by a battalion doctor led to naming the valley after this word creating Yosemite Valley.
Today, you will not find any hostilities with native tribes when you visit the Yosemite Valley. What you will find is thousands of acres of some of the most breathtaking country in the Sierra Nevada region. You will find crystal clear lakes and streams, impressive thundering waterfalls, jaw-dropping glacier-carved mountains and granite monoliths, and some of the friendliest people in central California.
And if you choose to stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel, you will not have to worry about any giant gaping mouths that will swallow you up while you sleep. What you will find is a beautiful historic lodge that features amazing and highly detailed craftsmanship. You will find comfortable accommodations, a friendly staff and delicious cuisine being served up for breakfast lunch and dinner. You will also find some of the most staggeringly-beautiful views of the Yosemite Valley right outside your room.
Ahwahnee Hotel truly is one of the most special man-made places inside Yosemite National Park. It caries with it a rich history, all the way down to it's very name which dates back to when mankind first settled in this incredible scenic valley.