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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Clingans Junction in Squaw Valley

Oct 24, 2019 11:00AM ● By Enjoy Magazine

Cabins & Coffee

November 2019
Story by Rachel Trigueiro

STEPS AWAY FROM THE San Joaquin Valley in the quiet foothills sit the quaintest cabins and bustling coffee shop, both rich in history and full of life.

Clingans Junction, a gathering place for the local and traveler alike, is situated on Highway 180 en route to the majestic Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. What’s now a bright and welcoming coffee shop was once the old Mercantile Gas Station of Squaw Valley. The historic building, with the original stone front in tact, bursts with stories old and new. 

Park ranger and surveyor William Melrose Clingan opened the Mercantile in 1941 and the cabins came along in the 1950s, where his family eventually resided. Many years later, after the property sat quietly still, Mimi Dysart and Nikki Tibbett, mom and daughter previously of Tulare, have transformed the property, bringing this corner of Squaw Valley back to life again. 

It all started when Tibbett moved back to the Valley after 10 years of living out of state. She recalls fond memories of flipping burgers in her mom’s Tulare restaurant growing up. “We made a great team,” Tibbett says. “We were open to a new adventure together but weren’t sure what that opportunity might be,” when 
they soon came across the Clingans property, “and the rest is history. We work so well together and our giftings are really complimentary. I am detailed and creative and Mimi is the real hostess with the mostest. She loves people.”

Living in one of the cabins herself, Dysart thrives on making others comfortable and happy. She has been known to leave freshly handmade goodies in the cabins, continually showing hospitality to her guests.  

“The entire thing has truly been a labor of love,” says Tibbett, who now resides in Sanger. “We couldn’t do it without our family’s continual support and there aren’t words to articulate the local support. The incredible group of people from Squaw Valley and the surrounding area is simply remarkable.”

Like the saying goes for raising children, it takes a village; the same can be said for a successful family business. Clingans Junction stands as proof. The mom and daughter pair bought the two-acre property in April 2018 and quickly began renovating with the help of Tibbett’s husband and other family members.  

Boasting the original metal roofs and planked ceilings, the cabins are updated with modern, airy touches. Sweet smells of vanilla permeate as the door is opened to a cozy queen-sized bed, plush towels and a sparkling clean bathroom. A personal patio and seating area are attached to each of the charming 240-square-foot cabins, making it the idyllic place to enjoy the complimentary morning coffee and pastry. 

In less than one hour from the doorstep of Fresno or Visalia, one can be transported into a slower pace, fresh air and something reminiscent of the past. 

Unlike a traditional drive-through coffee shop, the Junction is a place to linger, unwind and relax. From European travelers to local ranchers, people from all walks of life can be found at the Junction on any given day. (Except Wednesdays, the only day they take a break.)

Because of the unique location, meeting people has been the greatest and unexpected joy for Tibbett and Dysart. “When the coffee shop is buzzing, connecting and full of life, there’s a conversation with people from the Valley and next to them is a family speaking Italian. I whip out a map to help travelers and a local jumps in to give a tip on trails. I look around and it’s still so surreal,” Tibbett says. 

Large picture windows welcome visitors into the coffee shop, which celebrates its one-year anniversary on Nov. 17. Similar to the cabins, this delightful space is full of thoughtful touches. Guests can play checkers at one of the tables. People sit outside on the patio or, depending on the weather, inside by the fireplace. The ambiance is not the only thing the family and employees has honed. The menu is bursting with handmade selections. 

Two customer favorites are Mimi’s famous cinnamon rolls and the spicy ring: the Junction’s take on a breakfast sandwich with a miniature quiche on a hand-tossed jalapeno bagel. The baked goods are served on a unique wooden board, contributing to the aesthetic of the historic building. 

The grounds can also be a launching spot for exploring outdoor opportunities. About three miles from the Junction is Cat Haven, a conservation of some of the rarest cats in the world. The entrance to the world’s largest trees is 16.5 miles away and the beloved General Grant Tree is just 20.8 miles away. There are hundreds of miles of trails within Kings and Sequoia parks. 

“From near or far, no matter who you are, Clingans Junction is an extension of Mimi’s kitchen. It’s a place where everyone is family,” says Tibbett. With the cabins and coffee shop open year round, travelers can experience the magnificent trees in all seasons, while slowing down to enjoy a cup of coffee or unplug completely for a rejuvenating weekend away. 

The coffee shop is open 8am-2pm every day except Wednesdays. Cabins can be rented through their website.   •

Clingans Junction • 35591 E. Kings Canyon Road, Squaw Valley
(559) 358-0298 •
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