March 2010Pre-Project - Initial Reactions to Interpretive Offerings at YosemiteBased on these central sources, the way the park’s media is presented, and its facilities and offerings, thepark comes across as a living laboratory of sorts, and the interpretive themes emerge as follows: • Here history continues to live The park’s interpretive offerings have a humanist approach in connecting the people (pioneers, native populations), places (landscape, places of signiﬁcance), and stories (of settlement, of ecological and natural occurences) of Yosemite with its audience. This is evidenced by an abundant amount of “living” programming from education (photography walks, art classes) to park stewardship (Earth day, Junior Rangers) to nature tours (Grand Tour, Big Tree Tram Tour) to entertainment (Vintage Songs, Yosemite Theatre LIVE) to living sites (Ahwahnee Village, Nature Center). The park also takes advantage of offering multifaceted opportunities such as nighttime/ daytime activities, beginner to advanced level activities, low-cost to luxury amenities, multilingual programs, as well as programs for all age groups and time preferences in order to make most of user experience. • Yosemite as Laboratory Research plays a big role in the park, and scientists from across disciplines are able to share their ﬁndings in interesting, compelling ways through multimedia offerings such as audio podcasts, video podcasts, the Yosemite Forum, and naturalist tours.Basic Visitor Stats:Yosemite National Park 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 1996Annual Park Visitors 3,866,970 3,500,000 3,600,000 3,400,000 3,400,000 4,190,557 • 91% of visitors were U.S. residents; 89% of those were from California. • 9% of visitors were international visitors. With 9% each from Germany, Korea, Taiwan, United Kindgom. • 20% of respondents had visited Yosemite National Park at least twice in the past 12 months. • 26% of respondents were visiting Yosemite National Park for the ﬁrst time. • 29% of respondents identiﬁed themselves as Asian, Hispanic, American Indian and/or African American. • 84% of respondents listed "sightseeing or taking a scenic drive" as their primary activity, 73% taking photographs/painting/drawing and 35% listed "hiking".
Strengths • Leveraging many park destinations, times of day, and interest areas to tell stories, educate, and guide visitors. • Despite 5 to 6 different program operators, the ofﬁcial concessioner DNC, and NPS, all of the providers seem to partner and share resources in order to convey all of the offerings to the public. • Certain level of authenticity and stewardship felt by the programs. • Yosemite remains the focal point of all programming. • Excellent use of multimedia sources to capture the scientiﬁc, natural, cultural, and historical elements by weaving together stories, people, places, collections, and research at Yosemite effectively. • Strong sense of community is felt throughout Yosemite and beyond. • Through exclusive artist-in-residence programs, the Ansel Adams Gallery, and guest visits by rock climbers, the park is an superior educational resource.Weaknesses • Some of the historical “stories” seem to lack authenticity; seem to rely on folklore and orientalizing the past. • Some of the DNC operated tram and bus tours appear too costly, especially if mostly families visit the park. • There is room for further collaboration between the operators to consolidate information for potential tourists. • Yosemite is still a “plan ahead” type of trip in order to make use of the interpretive offerings, and the current guides are not easily searchable. One would have to search through the PDF. It would be great to check online to see program availabilities. The DNC website has a searchable- by-date database, but only for hotel reservations. With web 2.0 and related options, NPS has an opportunity to consolidate information, create an interactive map or calendar feature to attract more visitors and interpretive programs can be better utilized. • The program guides are great, especially because they are PDF. However, given the park’s commitment to environmental sustainability and related interpretive programming, most people still print PDFs (wasting paper), and may receive more physical paper guides at the park. It may be helpful to keep all of this information on the website and also to convert an area of the website into a mobile/smart-phone friendly manner. • NPS has a great website, but the information architecture is not always logical to a ﬁrst-time user and a potential visitor. Rearranging some of the links could certainly help.