I always have a fixed sequence when visiting new, unknown places like Yosemite. Obviously, the first thing is to get orientated, decide on what you want to do and find out how to get around. Food is secondary in this case. There are no better way than to get to the centre … in this case, the Visitor Center in the Yosemite Village.
Despite the immense size of Yosemite, most people would only see the few square kilometers within the Yosemite Village. Yosemite Village is like a small town and is the most developed part of the National Park with its own bus service, fire station, post office, clinic, stores, restaurants, and even a court! This is also where the park HQ is located.
Like all other national parks, there is an auditorium where you can catch a film about the area. It was showing an award winning documentary called The Spirit of Yosemite which described the stunning splendor of the park.
There is a scale model of the valley in the Visitor Center which give an excellent overview of the valley and the high sierra. Until now, I have only seen the view of Yosemite from the valley floor.
BTW, do you know that Yosemite is an Indian word that translates to “they are killers”? Apparently there were a lot of bloody disputes for control of the valley and the surrounding areas many many years ago.
Just next to the visitor center is the Ansel Adams Gallery. I am a fan of Ansel Adams work. Wanted to buy a few prints but I knew they will not survive the rest of the vacation.
Behind the Visitor Center is a reconstructed village of Ahwahneechee tribe. We spent some time walking around the small village. We always enjoyed learning about how people lived in this area. The indigenous people lived in tepee-like huts made of wood.
The ceremonial hut is the largest building in the demonstration village.
There are very limited parking spots around the Yosemite Valley. It’s good that they do it or else this place will be teeming with cars. There are two bus routes — one that services that places in and around the valley and the other less frequent one that goes to the slightly outlying El Capitan. It was quite frequent and used this a lot to get around.
It could get very packed on certain routes at certain times. i.e. right about morning many people would head to the Yosemite Falls and about dinner time, the Yosemite Lodge is a popular stop. They are comfortable for sure.