Cedar Grove Lodge

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Cedar Grove Lodge Kings Canyon NP, 1979
Not classified
Location: Cedar Grove, Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP
Theme: 1970s era motel, steel & wood construction.
Contractor: Government Services, Inc.
Interior Design: none to speak of, really
Exterior Features: horizontal wood siding, wood porches overlooking river.
Known Timeline:
Final plan proposal, 1976
Construction, 1978
Open to public, 1979
Current occupancy: 18 rental rooms, market, snack bar.


The sign on the structure reads "Cedar Grove Village" and goes on to list the various service offerings, the first of which states "Hotel." It's rather optimistic; Cedar Grove isn't much of a "village" and it definitely isn't a "hotel." There is the distinct possibility of a spelling error -- Cedar Grove feels more like a "hostel" than a "hotel." There is nothing wrong with any of this, exactly, assuming that prospective lodgers know what they are in for.

Cedar Grove Lodge is a utilitarian structure that was built in the late 1970s. The NPS and various local interests had long pushed for a massive "village" complex with hundreds of cabins and various shoppes and services to support a classic park lodge. For decades the project was stonewalled by the concessionaire, who claimed that Sequoia/Kings Canyon offered nothing to rival the wonders of Yosemite, and therefore required nothing more than simple canvas cabins. Once the old Kings Canyon concessionaire sold out, a new operator built a small, simple structure to provide groceries, a food counter, and a handful of rooms. Three decades later, it is virtually unchanged but for periodic modernizing and rehabilitation.

Notice the absence of the word "improvement." There hasn't been much; guests still complain about paper-thin walls and undersized bathrooms. Rooms are tiny and stark. No phones, no televisions, no coffee makers, not much of anything. No services after 9 pm in high season; 7 pm in early and late season.Patios (or decks if you will) on the south face of the building provide room to relax and chat with fellow guests.

The Experience

Kind of like a dormitory

It doesn't have the rustic charm of the cabin camp, nor the quality of the newer motel back at Grant Grove Village. If you plan your day so that you can make the drive back, you'll be much happier. On the other hand, if you reserve a room at Cedar Grove realizing that it's a no-frills place to stay after a day in the backcountry, it's fine.

The atmosphere is a bit cramped; 18 rooms with various guests stuffed into one block building. You can hear everything that goes on, and the whole affair feels a bit grubby. Backpackers who need a night in a soft bed will have no problem here, and will enjoy the impromptu outdoorsy community that pops up on the patio now and then. If tooling up to a Courtyard Marriott in the Buick is your idea of roughing it, you'll be positively mortified by the Cedar Grove Lodge. Go with the right mindset, and you'll find the experience quite pleasurable.

Not Classified

Cedar Grove Lodge is a hostel-level motel/lodge experience in a fabulous setting in Kings Canyon National Park. It is an excellent value for the location, but some guests will not appreciate the quality of the rooms provided. Room design is dated and quality is that of a price leader motel. The balconies, location, and some qualities of the complex are worthy of Classification IV, special merit. The lodge as a whole is not classified by NPLAS because it has no historic value, and the overall atmosphere does not provide a significant National Park Lodge experience.

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Cedar Grove Village

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Cedar Grove Village is the result of a series of false-starts by an early concessionaire and the National Park Service. Mission 66 called for a modern visitors center, shopping village, cabins, restaurants, etc. The location of Cedar Grove -- at the very end of the road through Kings Canyon -- made this difficult. In fact, electricity didn't reach Cedar Grove until the mid 20th century. Considering the weather in the Grove -- stifling hot summer days, frigid nights -- and the remoteness, it's probably best that construction stagnated.

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