Discover the Awe-Inspiring Yosemite National Park Visitor Center

The Yosemite National Park Visitor Center, now known as the Yosemite Valley Welcome Center, is a must-visit destination for anyone planning to explore Yosemite Valley. Located next to the Yosemite Village Parking and the Village Store in Yosemite Valley, it is easily accessible via Shuttle Stops 1 & 2.

The Evolution of the Yosemite National Park Visitor Center

The original Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, completed in 1967, was a product of Mission 66, an initiative that aimed to modernize national parks by creating visitor centers to provide centrally located orientation and interpretation to visitors. This building type was a new idea in the 1950s, as park visitors previously relied on museums for information, which often struggled to handle high levels of visitation.

In 2023, visitor information operations moved from the original visitor center building to the Yosemite Valley Welcome Center, which is now located in the south wing of the Village Store complex. The original building now serves as the Yosemite Exploration Center, featuring exhibit and retail space managed by Yosemite Conservancy.

Services and Amenities at the Yosemite Valley Welcome Center

Yosemite National Park Visitor Center

The Yosemite Valley Welcome Center offers a range of services to help visitors plan their Yosemite adventure:

  • Trip Planning Assistance: Knowledgeable staff are available to help you plan your visit, offering recommendations on must-see sights, hiking trails, and more.
  • Free Trail Maps: Pick up free maps of Yosemite’s hiking trails to help you navigate the park.
  • Junior Ranger Booklets: Engage your little ones with the Junior Ranger program, which includes educational activities and a badge upon completion.
  • The Spirit of Yosemite Film: Experience a state-of-the-art, wide-screen, 23-minute film that captures the essence of Yosemite National Park.

The Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center

For those interested in backpacking, the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center is a one-stop location for all your needs:

  • Wilderness Permits: Obtain the necessary permits for your backcountry adventures.
  • Maps and Guidebooks: Browse a selection of maps and guidebooks to plan your routes and prepare for your trip.
  • Bear-Resistant Canister Rentals: Rent bear-resistant canisters to safely store your food and keep wildlife at bay.
  • Other Backpacking Essentials: Find any other gear or information you might need for your Yosemite wilderness experience.

Navigating Yosemite’s Crowds and Congestion

It’s important to note that Yosemite National Park welcomes over four million visitors each year, leading to potential traffic congestion and parking challenges, especially in Yosemite Valley and at park entrances. To make the most of your visit, consider the following tips:

  • Plan Ahead: Research the park’s peak visitation periods and plan your trip accordingly. Arrive early in the day to avoid long lines at entrance stations and crowded parking lots.
  • Use the Shuttle System: Take advantage of Yosemite’s free shuttle system to navigate the valley and avoid the hassle of finding parking.
  • Explore Alternative Entrances: Consider entering the park through less-crowded entrances, such as the Tioga Road or Hetch Hetchy entrances, to avoid the congestion at the main Yosemite Valley entrance.


The Yosemite National Park Visitor Center, now the Yosemite Valley Welcome Center, is a crucial resource for anyone planning to explore the wonders of Yosemite Valley. Whether you’re seeking trip planning assistance, educational resources, or the tools to embark on a backcountry adventure, this center has everything you need to make the most of your Yosemite experience.

Remember to plan ahead, arrive early, and take advantage of the park’s shuttle system to navigate the crowds and ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to this natural wonder.


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