The Story of Sunset Inn
Sunset Inn, a small quaint lodging located in a beautiful spot of the High Sierra, is just 2 miles west of Yosemite National Park, at the Big Oak Flat Gate (Highway 120). The 3 cozy, well equipped cabins are surrounded by lush forest, on the edge of a private meadow, and accommodate visitors to Yosemite and the high country. This prime property is also the home of the Nickell family. But it wasn’t always so...
The first inhabitants, local Miwok Indians spent their summers in the Sunset Inn environs feasting on acorns, abundant wildlife, and other local delicacies. Evidence of their habitation from prehistoric times can still be seen in the grinding stones near the cabins overlooking the lush meadow.
Originally homesteaded in 1883, Sunset Inn has had a colorful past.
In its hey-day, around the turn of the last century, Crocker Station, the main stage coach stop along the Big Oak Flat Road to Yosemite, housed nearly 200 inhabitants. The 2 acre Sunset Inn property was purchased from homesteader Henry Crocker by local wood shake/shingle maker Franklin Babcock in 1886, and eventually became the only portion of this 160 acre homestead still privately owned to this day.
Several other individuals owned the property in the ensuing years, operating a variety of enterprises. At one time Sunset Inn was know to be the local brothel, catering to gentlemen looking for entertainment and companionship. Later a logging camp was set up, followed still later by a hunting lodge. Local legend has it that the likes of such notable characters as John Muir, Galen Clark and possibly Sammuel Clemmings visited Sunset Inn in the early days.
A fascinating story was published in the periodical magazine, ‘Arizona Highways’ in the 1950's about a hunting trip where the hunter, while staying at Sunset Inn, discovered gold! Unfortunately he lost his bearings during an early snow storm, and was never able to relocate the huge vein he had discovered amongst a group of giant cedar trees.
Many years of neglect, coupled with only occasional seasonal use had left the three Sunset Inn cabins and the house in a state of disrepair. Until the 1970's no one had managed to brave the winter months at Sunset Inn. The mountains were quite formidable in those earlier times.