Project goal: Create and install new educational exhibits in the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center focused on one of the park’s most popular activities: rock climbing.

Why this work matters: Rock climbing is etched deeply into Yosemite’s human story. The park’s cliffs were the birthplace of big-wall climbing and have spurred numerous innovations in climbing gear, techniques and stewardship; today, climbers from around the world spend hours or days on the walls, scaling routes on iconic features, such as El Capitan and Half Dome.

Despite its long history and popularity in the park, climbing is underrepresented in the park’s educational offerings. Seasonal donor-supported programs, such as Ask a Climber, provide an initial introduction, but the park lacks year-round, centrally located resources for the climbing-curious.

This project expanded climbing-focused interpretive resources by installing new exhibits in the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. A collaborative design process, which included input from the National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy, American Alpine Club and the Yosemite Climbing Association, culminated in the creation and installation of a series of exhibits that tell a rich story in a compact space. The exhibits feature text, timelines, photos, gear and hands-on activities, and cover climbing history and techniques, the ecology of the vertical wild, and tips for wilderness adventures.

Thanks to these exhibits, the millions of people who visit the Valley each year can learn about climbing in the park, see artifacts from climbing history, and explore how climbers play a role in protecting the environment and fellow adventurers, from keeping fledgling peregrine falcons safe to participating in Search and Rescue missions.

Please note: Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center closed to the public in spring 2020. We look forward to welcoming visitors to check out the new climbing exhibits when the visitor center reopens!

How your support helped: Your donations propelled Yosemite’s new climbing exhibits from idea to reality. By funding the final design, fabrication and installation of exhibits in the Valley Visitor Center, you helped create an engaging educational experience that will leave visitors with a deeper understanding of climbing history, culture and stewardship in Yosemite.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park, American Alpine Club and Yosemite Climbing Association.