The Yosemite National Park spans across the counties of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera, and reaches across the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. It is internationally famed for its natural splendour, as it is home to a series of granite cliffs, waterfalls and all manner of flora and fauna.
Yosemite’s geology is defined by its granitic and ancient rocks, with its overall shape formed 10 million years ago after the Sierra Nevada was tilted. It is said that over 1 million years ago an accumulation of snow and ice moved down the river valleys, eventually forming the U-shaped valley which now provides stunning vistas of the rest of Yosemite. The National Park is now characterised by the mountains, riverbeds and canyons which vein throughout it.
Although Yosemite Valley is by far the most popular location in the park, it only accounts for 1% of the overall area. To be sure, there is a plethora of other areas in Yosemite National Park that are just as delightful, such as the Dana Meadows and the Pacific Crest Trail.
In 1984, Yosemite National Park was deemed a World Heritage Site, ensuring that its entirety is preserved from outside intervention. Wildlife such as deer, marmots and bears call Yosemite home, as do a large variety of reptiles, amphibians and birds.
The Paiute and Sierra Miwok civilisations inhabited Yosemite Valley for nearly 3,000 years, until American settlers began exploring the greater area. US Army Major Jim Savage led his battalion into Yosemite Valley in pursuit of the Ahwahneechees, a civilisation of Native Americans living in the area at the time; this became known as the Mariposa Wars.
The Ahwahneechees were eventually captured in battle and their camp was burned down. The US Army settled them on a reservation, and later eventually let some resettle in Yosemite again. However, the Ahwahneechees became violent again and were later eradicated altogether.
An “Indian Village of Ahwahnee” was reconstructed behind the Yosemite Museum for visitors to observe.
In 1855, the first group of tourists visited Yosemite, including the entrepreneur James Mason Hutchings. Hutchings and his companions were the first people to heavily publicise Yosemite, encouraging newspapers and magazines to write about the valley. One of the original tourists was the artist Thomas Ayres, who eventually held an exhibition in New York City, further promoting tourism for Yosemite.
Where it is today:
Yosemite National Park is now one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and can be explored in a variety of ways.
There is a variety of hiking trails which can be embarked upon, where the park’s beauty is unavoidable. You will also be able to drive through some parts of the national park, which provides a good opportunity for visitors to observe the park’s night sky. Tioga Road in particular is a popular driving route in Yosemite, which is usually open between May and November.
Rock climbing is a popular and crucial aspect of Yosemite, and classes can be taken to learn the basics of rock climbing if you are new to the sport.
Winter activities such as downhill skiing are also available during the cold period, although many roads in the park are usually closed down during this time.
Yosemite National Park covers an astonishing 761,268 acres, with every inch of space filled with a variety of wildlife and plant life.
The area has a rich and difficult history, with native tribes having been chased out by American settlers in the 1800s. Since then, Yosemite has gone on to become one of the world’s most visited landmarks, with over 3.7 million people visiting it every year.