Happy Summer, Happy Isles!

Happy Summer, Happy Isles!

Visitors enjoy the restored wildlife diorama at the Nature Center at Happy Isles, featuring new sculpted animals. The Happy Isles exhibits were restored through a grant funded by Yosemite Conservancy donors. Credit: Yosemite Conservancy

Photo: © Virginia Shannon

Located at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, the Nature Center at Happy Isles is a classic family-oriented summer destination, offering kid-friendly natural history exhibits, easy access to short hiking trails, and frequent Junior Ranger Programs. This May, thanks to our donors, the Nature Center opened for the season with brand-new exhibits, including a renovated wildlife diorama. Read on for a sneak peek at some of the new displays!

Every summer, kids head to Happy Isles to learn about Yosemite through Junior Ranger Programs. As part of their path to earning a badge and taking the oath to "Explore, learn and protect!" the natural world, many aspiring junior rangers get a hands-on wildlife biology lesson at the Nature Center. Thanks to the new exhibits, there's even more for them to explore. Photo: © Keith Walklet

The aging diorama at the Nature Center was ready for an upgrade. The exhibit is a wonderful way for kids (and adults) to discover some of the many creatures that live in Yosemite. But the taxidermy animals, including this hawk and bear, had deteriorated over the years, and were difficult to maintain when the center closed in the winters. Photo: Courtesy of NPS.

 Thanks to our donors, Happy Isles got a makeover before reopening for the summer season. When you walk into the Nature Center, you'll be greeted by bright signs bursting with interesting information about Yosemite's wildlife, resources and natural history.

Here's a quick taste of what you'll see on the walls of the Nature Center: Tips for taking care of giant sequoias, ways to protect the Merced River and the wild creatures that make their homes in Yosemite Valley, and a nod to the partnership and donors that made the renovation possible.

At the wildlife diorama, you'll find high-quality sculptures of Yosemite wildlife, including deer, black bears and owls. In addition to showcasing the park's diverse animals species, the new sculptures are more durable and easier to care for than the old taxidermy versions.

Ready to see the new displays for yourself? Make a day of it! The Nature Center is an easy stop on your way to or from Vernal Fall. If you head that way this summer, check out the new surface material that was recently installed near the Mist Trailhead as part of the trail restoration work our donors help fund in Yosemite.

The start of the Mist Trail, near Happy Isles, was recently resurfaced with support from a grant funded by Conservancy donors. Photo: Courtesy of NPS.

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