Gateway Into the Western Imagination:Celebrating 100 Years of Adventurous Traditions at the Evergreen Lodge

Story and Photos by Marjorie Magazine

Originally published in Roaring Twenties: An Encore (2020)

When Southern Pacific Railroad opened the Sunset Limited line in the 1890’s, it took off in New Orleans and traveled across the southernmost states of America to reach the sunny shores of Los Angeles. As part of its expansion campaign, Sunset Magazine was created to fight the existing stereotypes of the Wild West in favor of a more attainable lifestyle that was less survival of the fittest and more r&r. Available aboard cars for its travelers, it showcased mystical illustrations glowing in colors and composition, displaying the sublime beauty of California’s outdoors, a grand horizon yet to be explored, where spectacular adventures await.

Evening in the Recreational Hall. Other cozy amenities and activities on site include disc golf, all-ages craft sessions, a giant chess set, bocce ball, and zip lining.

Today, such a mythical glow can still be found among the grounds of the Evergreen Lodge. On the eve of celebrating 100 years in operation, this resort enjoys a peaceful and prime location in the Sierras, nestled on the edges of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and only a 40 minute drive from Yosemite Valley. 20 acres of 88 cabins, complete with recreation halls, a general store, on-site spa and pool (with its own bar), and the Main Lodge, the oldest building on the grounds, evoke that adventurous spirit of living out west when it first opened in 1921. Originally an outpost and lodgings for workers constructing the O’Shaughnessy Dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley, Evergreen eventually transformed into a full-fledge tavern for both workers and locals alike by the late 1930’s, already having been a purported distiller of moonshine during Prohibition and an established host of 3 illegal slot machines on site. The lodge became a more family-centric resort by the 1950’s, and in 2001 the property was purchased by current owners Brian Anderluh, Dan Braun, and Lee Zimmerman. Since their ownership, Evergreen has seen an additional 75 new cabins and expansion of communal buildings and a variety of activities and tours for those who flock to the mountains seeking the thrill of nature.

ABOVE : The grounds of Evergreen Lodge, twin beds in one of the family cabins

Although busiest in the summer, fall and winter prove to be the more intimate moments for travelers to best enjoy their stay at Evergreen. A classic Yosemite experience without the crowds but all the views, that welcoming thrill of the Sierra’s grandeur pairs with the comforts of classic cabin amenities from a roaring fire and s’mores to shelves of classic board games and books– you won’t find a television anywhere except for in the tavern, should you be staying the night during Superbowl weekend. That’s intentional, according to Sammie Rice, Evergreen’s Digital Marketing Manager. “Our goal is to provide you a space to unplug from your daily life and reconnect with nature and each other.” Specially crafted recreational programs satisfy a range of personal interests from classic hikes into Yosemite and nightly stargazing courses, to more eclectic tastes like glass blowing and nature photography, even wine tasting. On the grounds, you’re invited to just take in the splendors of the forest and relax, be it poolside with a drink in hand or unwinding at the massage cabana. Whatever it is you’re drawn to at Evergreen, the point is self-awareness, especially in the moment– to find yourself smiling again in a place so removed from all the hustle and bustle of today’s deeply and digitally connected world. This is a whole new world in itself, one that despite a few new buildings and modern amenities, is the same one of yesteryear, the same resort and feelings you might get sitting by the fireside enjoying a cold glass of the Honey Black Bear from the tavern today as you would have back in 1936, or 1956.

FROM CLOCKWISE: The many faces of Evergreen’s ownership; John Bargmann (1975-2001), Jack & Katherine Garrison (1952 -1971), and Dan & Angie Rovero (1930’s- 1952), courtesy of Evergreen Lodge

As the Evergreen Lodge approaches 2021, its milestone is a testament to the simple but magical offerings of a few nights tucked away in the High Sierras. Into the west we’ve gone, and while the west has grown beyond its play land allure and into an oasis for innovation and modernity, the root at the spark of the imagination for the west and its opportunities aren’t forgotten here. With each moment spent at Evergreen, the classic Yosemite experience is shared by every visitor, sowing rich memories that become wonderful stories of the time the west had won their hearts. A spectacular adventure still awaits out here, and Evergreen Lodge is absolutely the place to start.

BELOW : S’mores and outdoor fires in the crisp evenings, rustic vintage interiors proudly display the rich history of allure and tourism to Yosemite Valley.

To book your stay at the Evergreen Lodge, visit them at

Cabin rates start at $190 a night for off- peak & $240 a night for peak & holiday seasons

A difficult choice is to be made outside a family cabin: porch or hammock?

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