About Yosemite National Park
1,168 square miles of granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, wildlife viewing, and biological diversity, Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, supporting a diversity of plants and animals. In 2014, Yosemite National Park was declared one of the 7 natural wonders of North America.
The Yosemite Bucket List: Every day in Yosemite is an adventure in nature! The dizzying and spectacular views from Glacier Point, Taft Point and Sentinel Dome are a “must” for your Yosemite Bucket List. The awe inspiring Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Horsetail Fall, Chilnualna Falls and at least 8 more named waterfalls, (as well as countless unnamed) pour off the granite cliffs and mountainsides. The meadows, filled with wildflowers, are perfect for a picnic (take your binoculars or telescope with you to watch the rock climbers on the 3,000 foot granite monolith, El Capitan, when you picnic at its base). Hike the multitudes of trails throughout the park (and don’t miss the life changing experience of hiking the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as you make your Hiking Bucket List). Ski the slopes of the oldest and most picturesque ski resort in California. Fish and raft the wild and scenic Merced River. And no visit to Yosemite would be complete without a trip to Tuolumne Meadows and its high country glacial lakes.
With an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet, the park supports five major vegetation zones: chaparral and oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone and alpine. More than 20% of California’s plant species and habitat to more than 160 rare plants, geologic formations and unique soils are located within Yosemite.
The geology of the park is characterized by granite rocks and remnants of older rock. About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in the formation of deep, narrow canyons. About one million years ago, snow and ice accumulated forming glaciers that moved down the river valleys and sculpted Yosemite Valley. The indigenous peoples called the area “Ahwahnee” (meaning “big mouth”).
Yosemite National Park was central to the development of the national park idea. Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development; ultimately leading President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Yosemite Grant in 1864. In 1890 John Muir led a successful movement to have Congress establish a larger national park by encompassing the valley and its surrounding mountains and forests, paving the way for the National Park System.
So make your Yosemite Bucket List before you arrive and begin the experience of a lifetime!