National Parks

Yosemite National Park

Blue sky reflecting on landscape of Yosemite National Park

If you have read the book “The Yosemite” authored by John Muir, he has mentioned that “Everybody needs beauty and bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike,”

This giant California Park still reaches those lofty goals via its dramatic landscapes, diverse outdoor pursuits, and the possibility of soul-searching reflection. If you need some of these, the Park located in western Sierra Nevada of Central California will always welcome you in any season of the year.

You can choose from seeing awe-inspiring vistas, granite icons, breathtaking waterfalls, and discovering fascinating history, all while staying in Yosemite Park.

Yosemite Valley

It stretches nearly 12.8 kilometers from east to west and with granite walls more than twice the Empire State Building’s height.

The Yosemite Valley is not just a great valley, but also a shrine to human foresight. It is one of the wonders of the natural world where granite’s strength, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the High Sierra’s tranquility are showcased.

The Park, which covers 748,436 acres, is notable with its waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. The Park was designated a World Heritage site in 1984.

History

Hiker sitting at the edge of a stone formation at early morning with the sunrise at the Yosemite National Park

Native Americans lived in Yosemite Valley until the 1849 gold rush brought thousands of non-Indian miners and settlers to the region. It followed the damage in the valley’s ecosystem with the numerous tourists and mining activities that had taken place.

In 1864, conservationists convinced President Abraham Lincoln to declare Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias as a public trust to California, to ward off further commercial exploitation. It marked the US government’s first time protecting land for public enjoyment, and it laid the foundation for establishing the national and state park systems.

An act of Congress creates Yosemite National Park on October 1, 1890. John Muir and his environmental colleagues campaigned for the congressional action. They were signed into law by President Benjamin Harrison that paved the way for generations of hikers, campers, nature lovers, and countless “Don’t Feed the Bears” signs.

In 1889, John Muir found out that the government had lacked protection for the vast meadows surrounding Yosemite Valley as it was being overrun and destroyed by domestic sheep grazing.

On October 1, 1890, Congress set aside over 1,500 square miles of land for Yosemite National Park, America’s third National Park.

Famous sites and features of the Park

Yosemite Valley is just one percent of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive and stay. The first view of the valley is the Tunnel View, which is also the most favorite for visitors’ photo-shoot. Another most-visited site is El Capitan, a prominent granite cliff and one of the most popular rock climbing destinations globally because of its diverse range of climbing routes and its year-round accessibility.

There are famous granite domes like Sentinel Dome and Half Dome, which rise 3,000 and 4,800 feet (910 and 1,460 m), respectively, above the valley floor.

It is also known for groves of sequoia trees; the three main groves are the Mariposa Grove (200 trees), the Tuolumne Grove (25 trees), and the Merced Grove (20 trees).

waterfalls from a cliff at the Yosemite National Park

Activities you can do in Yosemite Park

Rock climbing

Half Dome rises 1,360 feet from an elevation of 8,844 feet above sea level. It is one of the best spots for climbing. You might feel a bit dizzy due to its height and its sheer face but will reward you with incomparable views you’ll remember.

See famous scenic points

You have many options to choose from when you visit Yosemite Park. Yosemite’s Tunnel View with Half Dome, Valley View with Merced River, Glacier Point, and Olmsted Point is just a few from the well-visited and most famous views in the National Park.

Strolling through giant Sequoias

Like other National Parks, Yosemite is also a home to giant trees that amaze each first-time visitors. You can take a walk with your family or friends in a grove of these giant sequoias, and one most popular is at the newly renovated boardwalks of the Mariposa Grove.

Camping

All year round, group campsites are open at Wawona Campground, and during summer at Hodgdon Meadow, Bridalveil Creek, and Tuolumne Meadows Campgrounds. Make sure to book reservations a few months before the planned camping activity.

Bridalveil Fall

Another classic sight in the Park is Bridalveil Fall. It is on the south side of Yosemite Valley. You can easily reach the waterfall on foot, due to its short trail that will take you right to the base.

Glacier Point

“Breathtaking” as to how visitors in a word describe this one of the best and most comprehensive lookouts in Yosemite. It gives a sweeping, panoramic vista that is a truly can’t-miss spot in the Park. You can access it via roadway.

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