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Yosemite’s Valley Girl

Kirstie Kari of the Yosemite Fund talks about the remodeled Valley Visitor Center.

Kirstie Kari, Yosemite fund, Yosemite valley visitors center, image
Photo caption
Visitors' pal: Kirstie Kari at Yosemite's new center.

If you've ever ambled through the Valley Visitor Center in Yosemite National Park, you may want to see it afresh. The center, in Yosemite Village, reopened in April after an overhaul led in part by Project Manager Kirstie Kari of the Yosemite Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for park enhancements. (209) 372-0200,

Q What was wrong with the old center?
A The displayed items were behind glass. There was little you could literally grasp.

Q And the new exhibits?
A They're hands-on and interactive. Designer Leslie Stone, who's from Sausalito, Calif., put in a bear cave and a simulated sequoia tree for kids to crawl into and a blue glacier to walk under.

Q Anything for grown-ups?
A Absolutely. We split adult visitors into groups. Streakers can dash through and get a good overview from strong graphics. Strollers can spend time reading about park geology and cultural history. And studiers, the park scholars, can flip up big square panels to read even more details on everything from glacial activity to the challenges of park management.

Q Why not go outside?
A For first-timers, the center is the best place to get oriented. You can learn where the best vistas are, what's happening where in the park, what elevations you'll move through, how the landscape evolved.

Q What about all of us repeat visitors?
A You can always deepen your appreciation. The center takes you from the Ice Age into the pre-sent, where you can learn how each of us plays a role in the park's future.

Q Can you give an example?
A Air pollution doesn't stop at the park border. Even if you live far away, you can make lifestyle choices that help preserve Yosemite.

Photography by Roger J. Wyan

This article was first published in May 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.