Yosemite National Park Reclaims Historic Names

After a five year lawsuit, Yosemite has permission to reinstate historic park names, including Curry Village and The Ahwahnee Hotel.

When Delaware North Concessions (DNC) lost their contract with Yosemite National Park to Aramark in 2015, they made a massive claim on several of the historic names in the park—some more than a century old. Unable to pay the upwards of $50 million demanded by DNC to continue using the names, Yosemite had no option but to change them. This began a nearly 5 year legal battle between Yosemite NPS, Aramark, and Delaware North.

  • The Ahwahnee Hotel became The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
  • Curry Village became Half Dome Village
  • The Wawona Hotel became Big Trees Lodge
  • Badger Pass Ski Area became Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area
  • Yosemite Lodge at the Falls became Yosemite Valley Lodge

As of July 15th, however, the NPS reached a settlement which allows the park to resume using the original names. The settlement 1) transfers the trademarks from DNC to Aramark and 2) ensures the trademarks will be transferred free of charge to the Yosemite National Park Service when Aramark's contract expires or is terminated. The financial details and full list of trademarks have not been disclosed.

The NPS released a statement this morning:

"The National Park Service looks forward to the restoration of some of the previous names of the properties at Yosemite, including the Ahwahnee hotel... Any changes to the current names of properties at Yosemite National Park following this settlement will be based upon a schedule to be determined by Aramark and the National Park Service."

I, for one, never stopped calling the Ahwahnee the Ahwahnee. For those who have been exploring Yosemite for generations, the names are deeply rooted and intertwined with the place itself. I learned how to snowboard at Badger Pass. I grew up staying in the same Curry Village tent cabins my mom stayed in when she was a kid. This settlement is a huge win for legacy, common sense, and everyone who loves Yosemite Valley.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Aaron Rickel

Climber. Cyclist. Hiker. Writer. Currently has base camp set up in Los Angeles, CA. Runs the Los Angeles Field Guide.