Yosemite Valley Visitor Center (4hrs from SF)
||San Francisco, CA|
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The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is definitely worth visiting while you're in the park. It will enrich your experience by giving you an understanding of how the forces of nature, like glaciers, have shaped the steep cliffs of the valley, and how famous people have been awed by its beauty and sought to protect it. The exhibits are beautiful and inspiring.
There is a model of the valley in the lobby. Once inside, you wind your way around a boulder and giant tree stump past exhibits that give you short explanations about glaciers, lava, granite, giant sequoia trees, and animals that make the valley their home. The various rock faces and their names are described, like Half Dome- what happened to the other half? There are exhibits about the Native Americans that lived here. Banners about trout, the Great Grey Owl, Monarch butterflies and other creatures are backlit by huge windows, making a rainbow of color. A statue of John Muir in front of a backdrop of a painted mountain range introduces the topic of his life and important work in Yosemite Valley. Notes by children who have participated in camps in the valley reveal how important nature is in inspiring children. One child wrote: "Yosemite means to me a place full of wonder and peace. It's a place that absorbs the negativity one brings from their outside world. A magical location that cleanses oneself from head to toe. Yosemite compels visitors to forget about their worries and enjoy the amazing beauty it offers. I love Yosemite."
The 20 minute film, Spirit of Yosemite, is wonderful to see. Here you see Yosemite during all seasons and times of day and learn important facts that will make you appreciate the valley even more. The images and music are beautiful. Afterwards, you feel serene and don't want to leave the theater!
Stop in next door at Ansel Adams Gallery where there are drawings by the artist, plus photos and works by other artists, including Native American craftspeople.
On hot summer days, the visitor center is a good place to spend the middle part of the day.
After your visit, go and see the wonderful valley in real life! Also, don't miss out on the parts of the park that are outside the valley, like incredible Glacier Point. A pleasant place to have a meal is Tenaya Lodge.
Beware: It has recently (August 2012) been revealed that there is hantavirus, a virus that is usually lethal to humans, in Yosemite Valley, spread by deer mice droppings. Two people recently died from it after staying at the Curry Village tent cabins.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is located in Yosemite National Park CA 95389. The park numberl (209) 372-0200 but it doesn't connect to the visitor center.
From Highway 41, follow the signs to the visitor center.
On busy days, you can park in the day parking lots in Yosemite Village or Curry Village and then catch the national park's free bus to the visitor center. It makes a loop around the valley stopping at hikes, restaurants, lodging, and attractions, all day long, 7am-10pm.
Entrance to Yosemite National Park is $10 per car, valid for seven days.
Entrance to the visitor center is free. Open daily 9-6, yearround.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.