New Visitor Center
Driving by Yosemite Junction (CA 120 and CA108), you probably noticed that the cute little house that served as the Tuolumne County Visitor Center is no longer there. Earlier this year, the owners terminated the lease with us and the building was torn down**.
(**The former visitors bureau center at CA108 and CA120 is actually still standing, however it is all boarded up and slated for demolition – something we were told would happen months ago.)
Our hopes were to have something as close as possible to that location to replace it as soon as possible, however available land and the legal and permitting process would not allow that to happen any time soon. Because so many of our visitors pass that intersection, it was a great location for us and served thousands of people every year.
The next best option with available space was adjacent to the volunteer fire station at 13785 Highway 49 at the junction of CA120 in Chinese Camp. Everything offered at the old center will be available at the new one which is slated to open September 1.
Visitor Center Staff will include newly employed Roger Hanlon and Ron Esau who has worked several seasons at the old center on 120/108. The center will be open year-around with limited hours during the winter.
Although the location will not reach as many visitors, it offers a nicer facility (no roof leaks) and thanks to local builder, C&N Construction, it will be ADA accessible.
The office space is divided between the volunteer fire department and the visitors center. Painting and repairs have been completed and a sidewalk from the parking lot to the entrance of the building has been added. Judy Grossman of JG Designs is providing signs for the building and we are working with CalTrans on the highway signs indicating it’s location.
Many of our members donated time and expertise to make this happen as quickly as it did. The project was coordinated by Jeff Costello of Mt. Brown Winery and Brian Kermeen with the Stanislaus National Forest. Brian is a landscape architect and Jeff has experience as a builder. Both had the kind of background and skills needed to make this happen and as a result, both received the Bureau’s President’s Award at the Annual Banquet in July.
The new center will be open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Saturday and from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Sunday. An official grand opening will be scheduled for it.
Our long-term goal is still to return to the old site or as close as possible to it, however in the interim, the new center will be there to aid the thousands of visitors who seek assistance when they arrive.