Before there were tourists, photographers, rock climbers, campers, backpackers, and hikers, Yosemite was a place where hardy pioneers would live off the land and brave harsh winters in a daily struggle to survive. Though the park’s facilities are more modern today, you can step back in time to those early days on a visit to Pioneer Yosemite History Center, located in the town of Wawona.
The center is comprised of historical buildings that were built throughout Yosemite Valley but relocated here to Wawona in the 1950s and 60s. See the barn where stagecoaches were prepped for the 8-hour ride to the valley, and homesteader cabins where families would live while ranching and raising their cattle. You can watch a blacksmith work in the shop or learn about cavalry who patrolled the park’s boundary from high atop the saddle. Rather than depicting an historical village, the Pioneer Yosemite History Center is a collection of different eras in the Yosemite Valley’s development, and makes for an informative and educational stop on any Yosemite National Park day tour.
Insider's Tip: Even during times when the history center is closed, you can still wander around the structures and admire the historic buildings’ exteriors and cross the covered bridge.
The Pioneer Yosemite History Center is located behind the general store in the small town of Wawona. You need to cross the covered bridge to find the historic buildings, and while most of the center is a self-guided tour that’s open all year long, some of the stops, like the blacksmith shop, are only open in summer.