Comprehensive Interpretive Plan

park ranger with child teaching about the arrowhead, second picture of indian cultural demonstrator with child, and third photo of a ranger playing a guitar during Junior Ranger Day in Yosemite Village


In 2008 the National Park Service at Yosemite initiated the process to develop a Comprehensive Interpretive Plan (CIP), which focused on developing a comprehensive approach to interpreting the park's natural and cultural resources. A CIP helps to ensure long-term protection of resources through visitor understanding and enjoyment. The final product of this effort will guide interpretation and education in Yosemite for the next five to 10 years.

Overall, it strategically envisions, organizes, and justifies, interpretive and informational services that achieve the desired outcome of the park's program. The plan also identifies and describes the foundations of a park's interpretive program, which includes:

  • Park Purpose
  • Park Significance
  • Interpretive Themes
  • Management Objectives
  • Audiences
  • Visitor Experience Opportunities

There are three main components of a Comprehensive Interpretive Plan:

  • Long Range Interpretive Plan (plans for 5 to 10 Years);
  • Annual Interpretive Plan; and
  • Interpretive Database

The planning process began with two workshops scheduled in May 2009. The goal of the first workshop was to outline primary and secondary interpretive themes for Yosemite. An interpretive theme is a statement that tells a story about Yosemite and its resources. Multiple themes and sub-themes needed to be developed to properly tell the stories of Yosemite's compelling scenery, geology, ecology, human history, and wilderness. The goal of the second workshop was to convene providers of interpretation in and around Yosemite including National Park Service (NPS) staff, associated American Indian tribes, NPS concessioners, Yosemite Association (now Yosemite Conservancy), tour companies, community museums and others, to examine how those themes are shared with the public. Additional goals of the workshops were to develop Yosemite's outreach and visitor experience goals, identify specific audiences (current and potential) for Yosemite's Interpretation and Education Program, brainstorm methods appropriate for engaging specific audiences, and outline the "continuum of engagement" for Yosemite's audiences, identifying primary roles and responsibilities of interpretive partners.

Yosemite completed the CIP's major component in 2012 - the Long Range Interpretive Plan. This plan outlines a comprehensive approach to interpreting park natural and cultural resources. The Long Range Interpretive Plan will guide interpretation and education in Yosemite for the next 5 -10 years.


"The purpose of Interpretation and Education in the National Park Service is to provide memorable, meaningful, and inspirational experiences related to the parks and strengthen public understanding of the full meaning and relevance of the national's natural and cultural resources."

- NPS Interpretation and Education Business Plan, 2006

Last updated: September 20, 2022

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