Wawona Tunnel

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Wawona Tunnel
Wawona Tunnel.jpg
The east end of the tunnel
Location Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California, USA
Coordinates 37°42′57″N119°41′09″W / 37.71583°N 119.68583°W / 37.71583; -119.68583 Coordinates: 37°42′57″N119°41′09″W / 37.71583°N 119.68583°W / 37.71583; -119.68583
RouteCalifornia 41.svg SR 41
Opened1933 (1933)
Owner Caltrans
Length4,233 feet (1,290 m)
No. of lanes two lanes total, one in each direction
Route map

The Wawona Tunnel is a highway tunnel in Yosemite National Park. It, and Tunnel View just beyond its east portal, were completed in 1933. [1] [2]

Tunnel An underground passage made for traffic

A tunnel is an underground passageway, dug through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A pipeline is not a tunnel, though some recent tunnels have used immersed tube construction techniques rather than traditional tunnel boring methods.

Yosemite National Park National park in California, United States

Yosemite National Park is an American national park located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California, bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 747,956 acres and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

Tunnel View scenic overlook on State Route 41 in Yosemite National Park

Tunnel View is a scenic viewpoint on State Route 41 in Yosemite National Park. Visitors have seen and documented the iconic and expansive views of Yosemite Valley from the overlook since its opening in 1933. Internationally renowned artists to casual tourists have painted, drawn, and photographed the dramatic scenery from here and nearby vantage points since the 19th century.



Wawona Tunnel was bored through solid granite bedrock, and carries Wawona Road through a granite mountain on the south side of the Merced River. [3] It is located on one of the three main roads providing access to Yosemite Valley, the most visited section of the park. Wawona Road becomes California State Route 41 on exiting the park. After passing through the tunnel, when leaving Yosemite Valley, Wawona Road continues to Chinquapin Junction with Glacier Point Road at Badger Pass, and reaches an elevation of 6,039 feet (1,841 m) above sea level.

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

Merced River body of water in California

The Merced River, in the central part of the U.S. state of California, is a 145-mile (233 km)-long tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin Valley. It is most well known for its swift and steep course through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, where it is the primary watercourse flowing through Yosemite Valley. The river's character changes dramatically once it reaches the plains of the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, where it becomes a slow-moving meandering stream.

Yosemite Valley glacial valley in California, United States of America

Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of Central California. The valley is about 7.5 miles (12 km) long and approximately 3000–3500 feet deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines. The valley is drained by the Merced River, and a multitude of streams and waterfalls flow into it, including Tenaya, Illilouette, Yosemite and Bridalveil Creeks. Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, and is a big attraction especially in the spring when the water flow is at its peak. The valley is renowned for its natural environment, and is regarded as the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, attracting visitors from around the world.


At 4,233 feet (1,290 m) long Wawona Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in California. [2] [4]

A $1.5 million federal highway contract to repair the tunnel's ventilation and electrical systems, and a separate contract to upgrade visitor services at Tunnel View, was completed in 2008. [1]


The Wawona Tunnel features in a famous monochrome photograph by Ansel Adams: From Wawona Tunnel, Winter, Yosemite, about 1935. [5]

Ansel Adams American photographer and environmentalist

Ansel Easton Adams was an American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West.

See also

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Yosemite National Park.

Related Research Articles

Ansel Adams Wilderness protected area

The Ansel Adams Wilderness is a wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada of California, USA. The wilderness is part of the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. The wilderness spans 231,533 acres (93,698 ha). Yosemite National Park lies to the north and northwest, while the John Muir Wilderness lies to the south.

Devils Postpile National Monument national monument in California, USA

Devils Postpile National Monument is a National Monument located near Mammoth Mountain in eastern California. The monument protects Devils Postpile, an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt. It encompasses 798 acres (323 ha) and includes two main tourist attractions: the Devils Postpile formation and Rainbow Falls, a waterfall on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. In addition, the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail merge into one trail as they pass through the monument. Excluding a small developed area containing the monument headquarters, visitor center and a campground; the National Monument lies within the borders of the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Wawona, California Census-designated place in California, United States

Wawona is a census-designated place in Mariposa County, California. It is located 18 miles (29 km) east of Mariposa, at an elevation of 3999 feet. The population was 169 at the 2010 census.

Mariposa Grove place in California listed on National Register of Historic Places

Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove located near Wawona, California, United States, in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park, with several hundred mature examples of the tree. Two of its trees are among the 30 largest Giant Sequoias in the world. The grove closed on July 6, 2015 for a restoration project and reopened on June 15, 2018.

History of the Yosemite area

Human habitation in the Sierra Nevada region of California reaches back 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Historically attested Native American populations, such as the Sierra Miwok, Mono and Paiute, belong to the Uto-Aztecan and Utian phyla.

Sentinel Dome granite dome in Yosemite National Park

Sentinel Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, United States. It lies on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, 0.8 miles (1.3 km) southwest of Glacier Point and 1.4 miles (2.3 km) northeast of Profile Cliff.

California State Route 41 highway in California

State Route 41 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California, connecting the Cabrillo Highway in Morro Bay with Fresno and Yosemite National Park via the San Joaquin Valley. It has been constructed as an expressway from near SR 198 in Lemoore north to the south part of Fresno, where the Yosemite Freeway begins, passing along the east side of downtown and extending north into Madera County.

Badger Pass Ski Area ski area located within Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Badger Pass Ski Area is a small ski area located within Yosemite National Park. Badger Pass is one of only three lift serviced ski areas operating in a US National Park. It is situated five miles (8 km) south-southeast of the Chinquapin intersection of Wawona Road with Glacier Point Road in the southern area of Yosemite National Park. Glacier Point Road provides the access to this ski area. During high snow level and/or ski season, Glacier Point road terminates at Badger Pass ski Resort. Under these conditions, the remainder of Glacier Point Road is used for cross-country skiing access to Glacier Point and other destinations in the high country.

Chandelier Tree geographical object

The Chandelier Tree in Drive-Thru Tree Park is a 276-foot (84 m) tall coast redwood tree in Leggett, California with a 6-foot (1.8 m) wide by 6-foot-9-inch (2.06 m) high hole cut through its base to allow a car to drive through. Its base measures 16 ft (4.9 m) diameter at breast height (chest-high). The sign claims 315 ft. high and 21 ft. wide, but a Certified Arborist experienced with tallest redwoods, using a laser rangefinder, measured the tree as 276 ft. high and 16 ft. diameter. The name "Chandelier Tree" comes from its unique limbs that resemble a chandelier. The limbs, which measure from 4 to 7 ft in diameter, begin 100 ft (30 m) above the ground. The tree is believed to have been carved in the early 1930s by Charlie Underwood.

Wawona Tree former famous giant sequoia that stood in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

The Wawona Tree, also known as the Wawona Tunnel Tree, was a famous giant sequoia that stood in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, USA, until February 1969. It had a height of 227 feet (69 m) and was 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter at the base.

Geography of the Yosemite area

Yosemite National Park is located in the central Sierra Nevada of California. Three wilderness areas are adjacent to Yosemite: the Ansel Adams Wilderness to the southeast, the Hoover Wilderness to the northeast, and the Emigrant Wilderness to the north.

Chinquapin, California former settlement in California, United States

Chinquapin is a former settlement in Mariposa County, California. It was located 8.5 miles (14 km) north-northwest of Wawona. It is located within Yosemite National Park, adjacent to the community of Yosemite West. Chinquapin is the midway point between Yosemite Valley and Wawona, a community inside the park.

South Fork Merced River river in the United States of America

The South Fork Merced River is the largest tributary of the Merced River. Most of the river flows within Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada of California. The river is 43 miles (69 km) long, and its drainage basin covers about 240 square miles (620 km2), of which 109 square miles (280 km2) are in the national park. The average flow at the mouth is 356 cubic feet per second (10.1 m3/s).

Tom Lantos Tunnels

The Tom Lantos Tunnels are two tunnels located within the coastal promontory of Devil's Slide in California, United States, allowing State Route 1 to bypass the treacherous Devil's Slide stretch. They are officially named after late Congressman Tom Lantos, who was instrumental in securing funding for the project, but de facto named after their location.

Fort Monroe (Yosemite)

Fort Monroe is a historic site in Yosemite National Park. There are no longer remnants, it is a location only. The fort was not a military fort, but started as a stage station. As various buildings were added or demolished, the general location acquired and kept the name well into the automobile age. Prior to the building of the Wawona Tunnel in 1933, the Wawona Road passed next to it, at the point where the start of Pohono Trail was located.

Pioneer Cabin Tree

The Pioneer Cabin Tree, also known as The Tunnel Tree, was a giant sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California. It was considered one of the U.S.'s most famous trees, and drew thousands of visitors annually. It was estimated to have been more than 1,000 years old, and measured 33 feet (10 m) in diameter; its exact age and height were not known. The tree was topped before 1859. It fell and shattered during a storm on January 8, 2017.


  1. 1 2 Leonnig, Carol D. (May 3, 2008). "Yosemite's Wawona Tunnel could be dangerous". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  2. 1 2 Rabold, John (November 2010). "Yosemite FAQs". A Guide to Yosemite National Park. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  3. Travis, Virginia. "Yosemite National Park: Wawona Tunnel" . Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  4. The long Devil's Slide Tunnel in Pacifica, California, scheduled to open in 2013, is 4,149 feet (1,265 m) long; Dot.ca.gov/dist4: Devil's Slide; The Caldecott Tunnel in Oakland, California is 3,771 feet (1,149 m) long. Both measured in their longest bores).
  5. "Ansel Adams: Photography from the Mountains to the Sea exhibition opens in London". The Guardian. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012.