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  Photo Albums:
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LeConte Memorial Lodge - First Permanent Visitor Center in Yosemite Valley & Home of the Sierra Club in Yosemite National Park (PDF) by Bonnie Gisel - from Yosemite Guide, May-June, 2012 (PDF)
LeConte Memorial - A Sierra Club Legacy by Elaine Gorman (PDF) (2012)
Memorial Fact Sheet (PDF)
Joseph LeConte Fact Sheet (PDF)
John Muir Fact Sheeet (PDF)
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(Quicktime Movie 48 MB )
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About Joseph LeConte
'Little Joe' Joseph N. LeConte
1896 Tribute to Dr. LeConte
John Muir Exhibit
Sierra Club History
Oher Sierra Club Lodges
Le Conte Memorial Lodge by Steven Finacom
NPS 1985 Theme Study
National Historic Landmark Program

A Week in Yosemite Valley

by Elaine Gorman

June, 2010

The sight and sound of Bridalveil Fall -- mist and thunder -- greeted us as we entered Yosemite Valley. Roadways and paths were edged with blooming dogwood trees. The cliffs on both sides of the valley were topped with glittering snow, and dozens of ephemeral cascades bounced their way down the granite walls. Our car was filled with camping gear, ice chest, and other necessities for a week of life in Yosemite Valley and service at the LeConte Memorial Lodge.

Under the tutelage of curator Bonnie Gisel and her scottie dog Atwood, myself and two volunteers from San Diego, John Fankhauser and Bob Fullerton, greeted visitors, explained the exhibits, and helped set up for the evening programs. We had the opportunity to meet hundreds of visitors from all over the United States and other countries. The LeConte Memorial Lodge (LML), originally built in 1903 near Camp Curry, but located since 1919 just west of Camp Curry on Southside Drive, is a beautiful building with granite walls and a steep wooden roof. The LML is named for Dr. Joseph LeConte, charter faculty member of the University of Calif., Berkeley, who taught Geology and Natural History courses. He was also a friend of John Muir and charter member of the Sierra Club. The LML served as the first visitor center in Yosemite, a meeting place for Sierra Club members, and housed a Sierra Club library. These activities continue today, with the addition of a children’s corner where young visitors can play with nature-related toys, create art, or read one of the many childrens’ books. There are also several interactive displays on John Muir, Joseph LeConte, the Sierra Club, and climate change.

Besides being steeped in Sierra Club/Yosemite lore at the LML, we had time to explore Yosemite Valley. On our days off, we hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls, to Snow Creek’s confluence with Tenaya Creek, and to Vernal Falls. We were able to participate in Yosemite Association hikes, attend Lee Stetson’s portrayals of Muir at the Yosemite Valley theater, and go to evening ranger programs at our campground.

During our week of service, the evening programs at LML included presentations on hiking Half Dome, Native American Storytelling, and the famed Yosemite camping trip of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt.

Spending time in the campground with Bonnie, John, and Bob, was also enjoyable. Sitting in our campsite and ooking up at North Dome, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Cloud’s Rest, Royal Arches, and Yosemite Falls was awesome. Each night we were serenaded by chorus frogs, and once by a coyote. During the day we had sightings of deer, coyote, bear, and lots of birds, including a close inspection by a pileated woodpecker.

If you would like to be a volunteer at LeConte Memorial Lodge, contact Bonnie Gisel at I recommend the month of May, when crowds are diminished, the mosquitos haven’t hatched, and the campgrounds are quiet. I have already signed up for next year. Please visit LML the next time you are in Yosemite Valley. To learn more about the LML, check out the website, www. Donations are welcomed.

Elaine Gorman
Yokuts Group Outings Chair

Reprinted by permission from The Valley Habitat (PDF), a joint publication of the Yokuts Group (in Mother Lode Chapter) of the Sierra Club and the Stanislaus Audubon Society.

Return to Volunteering.

Information and Donations

For more information, during the summer contact Sierra Club LeConte Memorial Lodge Curator, P.O. Box 755, Yosemite, CA 95389, 1-209-372-4542, e-mail:

During the winter, contact LeConte Lodge Committee Chair, Harold Wood, P.O. Box 3543, Visalia, CA 93278; phone: (559) 697-3525; e-mail:

Tax deductible donations to support the new exhibits and renovation efforts of the LeConte Memorial can be made to "Sierra Club Foundation," marked for the LeConte Lodge Fund.

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