Yosemite Settles Lawsuit, Gets Historic Names Back

1 min
The Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite. (wehardy/Flickr)

After the National Park Service settled a lawsuit on Monday for approximately $12 million, popular landmarks in Yosemite will go back to being called by the names they were best known for.

Curry Village will again be Curry Village. The Ahwahnee Hotel will return to being called the Ahwahnee Hotel. And Badger Pass Ski Resort is once more Badger Pass.

Yosemite's Names
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The settlement comes after a dispute over who owned the names. In 2016, Yosemite changed the names of a number of landmarks following a lawsuit filed by Delaware North, which had served as the park's concessionaire since 1993 but lost the contract to the company Aramark. Delaware North then filed a lawsuit alleging it owned the trademarks to various historic names of beloved landmarks throughout Yosemite.

While the lawsuit was ongoing, the park officially changed the names of places like Curry Village and the Ahwahnee.

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

In reality, however, most visitors were slow to adapt to the change, which was largely viewed as temporary. While some materials, such as signs, were printed with the new names, said Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman, many things, like napkins at the hotel, simply weren't.

"We felt strongly about restoring the names," he said, noting the park always intended to return to the original names. "People feel strongly about places like Curry Village, the Ahwahnee Hotel, places families have been coming for generations."

Once the lawsuit was settled, the temporary sign for Half Dome Village was almost immediately removed to reveal the historic wooden Curry Village entrance. (National Park Service)

The settlement requires Aramark to pay $8.16 million and the government to pay $3.84 million to Delaware North for the names, a number of logos and other branded content, Gediman said.

The government money comes out of the Judgment Fund, which is set aside by the Department of Justice to be used in settling lawsuits filed against federal agencies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Aramark will own the names and logos for the duration of its contract — through 2031 — at which point the names and logos will revert to the government. No one conceded fault or ownership, said Gediman, but rather they felt it was important to settle the lengthy lawsuit.

"Aramark is, in effect, purchasing the use of these historic names," said Gediman.

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The changes will be effective immediately.

In fact, some signage has already been switched back — especially in cases like Curry Village, where the switch simply involved removing the temporary signage that had signaled the interim name. It may take months, though, to make all the changes.

A handful of names won't switch either, because it was felt they were close enough. The only major one, said Gediman, is the Yosemite Valley Lodge, which will continue to be the Yosemite Valley Lodge, because it was similar enough to the historic name: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.

"We're just really excited," he said. "What's old is new again."

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