Places To See In Yosemite Valley
#1- The Visitors Center
I recently had the honor to stay and work in Yosemite Valley for several weeks. My task was to assist visitors by answering questions.
Most of the questions involve directions and ideas on how to best spend their time in the Valley.
I learned that many of the people who visit Yosemite Valley and the National Park are there for a very limited amount of time. Sometime only a few hours and often only for a day.
The question I was asked most often was "What Should I See?". This, of course is a tough question to answer because it depends on the interest and ability of the visitor.
The best place to get answers is the #1 place to visit in Yosemite Valley- the Visitor Center The VC is located in Yosemite Village. It is towards the back of the mall and is currently stop #5 on the shuttle route.
Most visitors make their way to the VC to ask questions, get information, maps and ideas on how best to spend their time in Yosemite. There are National Park employees and volunteers available to answer your questions but there is so much more available here.
The VC diplays information on campsite availability, weather and road conditions.
There is a substantial exhibit on the geological and human history of the valley as well as lifesize replicas of the types of animals found in the valley and in the park. There is even a video showing bears breaking in to vehicles. Don't leave your food in your car!
On the wall just beyond the ranger desk, there are two large maps of the Valley and of the park. If you are looking for places to go these maps are a wonderful resource.
Right in the middle of the lobby is a giant, newly restored releif map of the valley. This map was removed from the visitor center for restoration and returned there in September of 2016.
The relief map is a real treasure for anyone wanting to get familiar with all of the rock features, waterfalls and meadows in, and above the valley. the map also gives those thinking of hiking a visual idea of the steepness of the trail and the altitude gain on whatever hike they may be considering.
Just outside of the VC there are two large information boards that provide excellent information on the most popular hikes in the valley.
While your at the VC you should definitely shop the Yosemite Conservancy Store. The store offers a great assortment of books, posters and clothing that you won't find in other valley gift shops. The proceeds go towards funding Yosemite Conservancy projects that improve the visitor experience inside the Yosemite National Park. Learn more about the Yosemite Conservancy HERE.
Speaking of the Conservancy, there is a beautiful theater located just behind the VC. The theater, operated by the Conservancy, shows two specatular films about Yosemite. Each film is about 20 minutes and It is well worth the time to sit, relax, cool down and soak in the awe of Yosemite. These films alway bring tears of pride to my eyes and when I walk out into the sunlight I am more inspired by the grandeur of the place.
The VC is an obvious choice as a place to visit in Yosemite Valley but, not everyone knows it's there and many don't know how much entertainment and information can be found there.
Stop #1 on "Places To See In Yosemite Valley" goes to this jewel.