Wuksachi Lodge

Wuksachi Lodge in winter, Copyright 2009 Roy Tennant, FreeLargePhotos.com.

Wuksachi Lodge Sequoia NP, 1999
Not Classified
Location: 6 miles north of Giant Forest, Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP
Theme: National Park Rustic/Modern Motel
Architect: Clayton B. Wardel, AIA.
Interior Design: Modern lodge rustic.
Interior Designer: DeDe Darnell, ASID and Laura Watkins, ASID; ESDA Interiors, Fresno, CA.
Exterior Features: Natural woods, metal, and native granite rock; detatched buildings.
Construction: Delaware North Parks Services.
Known Timeline:
Funding provided: 1984
Project planning & development: 1985-1997
Construction begins: July 1, 1998
Opening date: June 10, 1999
Current occupancy 102 units, 2009
Maximum planned buildout 414 units.

Observations

The Wuksachi Lodge is the culmination of a confusing and bitter fight between environmentalists, NPS personnel, historic preservationists, sentimentalists, scientists, and extremists on all sides. The original lodging in Sequoia NP was built right among the Giant Forest. Architectural visionary Gilbert Stanley Underwood redesigned a Giant Forest Village complex during the 1920s; it was these structures that were the focal point of the imbroglio. Scientists said they had to go, preservationists cried foul. The Giant Forest Village went through nearly fifty years of controversy before it was razed. Wuksachi Village was proposed to fill the void.

Because of the hue and cry over the demolition of Giant Forest Village, park planners wanted Wuksachi to come as close as possible to the model of an Ahwahnee or Old Faithful Inn. As new construction, it allowed for significant improvements in the in-room facilities. Where older lodges had modern baths and ventilation shoe-horned in, guest rooms at the Wuksachi have been full service and spacious right from the start.

interior details

Wuksachi claims to rival the grand lodges in other National Parks. It doesn't, but it is a high quality lodging experience.

Just as the guest rooms are a modern interpretation of what a room should be, the entire Wuksachi complex is a carefully contrived vision with room for expansion. Although the quality is light years beyond anything ever built in the old Giant Forest Village, the new complex has none of the mystique nor excitement. It feels like a Residence Inn with wood shingles...nice, but nothing more than a place to sleep and possibly to eat.

exterior details

Upon approach, the roof dominates the structure. It's a modern, weather-resistant roof of highly engineered materials; perfect for a modern, highly-engineered motel...er, lodging facility.

Lurking in the lounge is nice, and it's easy to envision a day when the new wears off and the structure has a more inviting feeling. This would happen a lot faster if the price tags were removed from the lamps, and if the lounge stayed open past 9 p.m. The dining room -- billed as luxury -- has the feel of a hotel banquet room with middling fare and mission styling.

The Experience

Turn out the lights, the party is over

Wuksachi Lodge doesn't quite cut it as a full-fledged park lodge. Check-in is located in the main building; you then drive away to your assigned building. The distance to carry your bags can be daunting for some guests. The log exterior is certainly charming, but it isn't hard to see that this is more of a modern motel than a traditional National Park Lodge. The setting is stupendous, but again, other than the smallish lobby and lounge areas, there is no "there" there.

The main lodge building is highlighted by carefully arranged lighting, stone fireplaces, and soaring windows and ceilings. The interior features natural woods, Mission-style furnishings, and traditional forest colors. There is granite everywhere...even a massive sculpture covers the wall behind the registration desk.

More plusses: Hiking trails and cross-country ski trails leave right from the campus. There are generally ranger-led offerings either on site or nearby. Over time, Wuksachi will likely find its way to a more holistic "park" experience. Right now it's more a place where you check in and wait for morning.

exterior details

The rooms are in motel outbuildings.

Hallways and rooms are spotless; cleaner and in better condition than many properties in the park system. The quality of the room, bath, etc. is very good and represents a very good value for the location. Just don't expect to head down to the lobby to enjoy the traditional old lodge chit-chat and card games; as mentioned above, the lounge closes early and the sidewalks are rolled up by 9 o'clock.

Not Classified

Wuksachi Lodge is a high quality motel/lodge experience in a fabulous setting in Sequoia National Park. It is a reasonable value for the location. Room quality is excellent. The main building, location, and some qualities of the complex are worthy of Classification III, premium. In virtually all respects this lodge is worthy of classification but it has no historic significance and has not yet become an inextricable part of the park.



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Dining & Banquet Facilities

Wuksachi Lodge dining room is a 95 seat, full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended for dinner. The complex also houses a 1300 square foot banquet room, with available catering and full audio/visual services plus wi/fi. There are also a plethora of outdoor activities as you might expect.



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