Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Overview
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne
Tuolumne County, California
Tuolumne County is a county in the Sierra Nevada of the U.S. state of California. The northern half of Yosemite National Park is located in the eastern part of the county. As of the 2010 census, the population was 55,365, up from 54,501 at the 2000 census...

, Mariposa
Mariposa County, California
Mariposa County is a county in the U.S. state of California, located in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It lies north of Fresno, east of Merced, and southeast of Stockton. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,251 up from 17,130 at the 2000 census...

 and Madera
Madera County, California
Madera County is a county of the U.S. state of California, located in the Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada north of Fresno County. It comprises the Madera-Chowchilla, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census the population was 150,865...

 counties in east central California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, United States. The park covers an area of 761268 acres (3,080.7 km²) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite each year: most spend their time in the seven square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines...

. Designated a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 cliffs, waterfall
Waterfall
A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff.-Formation:Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young. At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens...

s, clear stream
Stream
A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

s, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity.
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Encyclopedia
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne
Tuolumne County, California
Tuolumne County is a county in the Sierra Nevada of the U.S. state of California. The northern half of Yosemite National Park is located in the eastern part of the county. As of the 2010 census, the population was 55,365, up from 54,501 at the 2000 census...

, Mariposa
Mariposa County, California
Mariposa County is a county in the U.S. state of California, located in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It lies north of Fresno, east of Merced, and southeast of Stockton. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,251 up from 17,130 at the 2000 census...

 and Madera
Madera County, California
Madera County is a county of the U.S. state of California, located in the Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada north of Fresno County. It comprises the Madera-Chowchilla, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census the population was 150,865...

 counties in east central California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, United States. The park covers an area of 761268 acres (3,080.7 km²) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite each year: most spend their time in the seven square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines...

. Designated a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 cliffs, waterfall
Waterfall
A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff.-Formation:Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young. At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens...

s, clear stream
Stream
A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

s, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. Although not the first designated national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

, Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea, largely owing to the work of people like Galen Clark
Galen Clark
Galen Clark is known as the first European American to discover the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees, and is notable for his role in gaining legislation to protect it and the Yosemite area, and for 24 years serving as Guardian of Yosemite National Park.-Early life and education:Galen Clark...

 and John Muir
John Muir
John Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions...

.

Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

 blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s and animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

s. The park has an elevation range from 2127 to 13114 ft (648.3 to 3,997.1 m) and contains five major vegetation zone
Life zone
The Life Zone concept was developed by C. Hart Merriam in 1889 as a means of describing areas with similar plant and animal communities. Merriam observed that the changes in these communities with an increase in latitude at a constant elevation are similar to the changes seen with an increase in...

s: chaparral
Chaparral
Chaparral is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the U.S. state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico...

/oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 woodland, lower montane
Montane
In biogeography, montane is the highland area located below the subalpine zone. Montane regions generally have cooler temperatures and often have higher rainfall than the adjacent lowland regions, and are frequently home to distinct communities of plants and animals.The term "montane" means "of the...

, upper montane, subalpine
Sierra Nevada subalpine zone
The Sierra Nevada subalpine zone refers to a biotic zone below treeline in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, United States. This subalpine zone is positioned between the upper montane zone at its lower limit, and tree line at its upper limit.The Sierra Nevada subalpine zone occurs...

, and alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

. Of California's 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% within Yosemite. There is suitable habitat or documentation for more than 160 rare plants in the park, with rare local geologic formations and unique soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

s characterizing the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy.

The geology of the Yosemite area
Geology of the Yosemite area
The exposed geology of the Yosemite area includes primarily granitic rocks with some older metamorphic rock. The first rocks were laid down in Precambrian times, when the area around Yosemite National Park was on the edge of a very young North American continent...

 is characterized by granitic 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 the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, narrow canyon
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

s. About 1 million years ago, snow
Snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

 and ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

 accumulated, forming glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s at the higher alpine meadow
Alpine tundra
Alpine tundra is a natural region that does not contain trees because it is at high altitude. Alpine tundra is distinguished from arctic tundra, because alpine soils are generally better drained than arctic soils...

s that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4000 feet (1,219.2 m) during the early glacial episode. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today.

Geography




Yosemite National Park is located in the central Sierra Nevada of California. It takes approximately 4 hours to drive to the park from San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, approximately 6 hours from Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, and 7 hours from San Bernardino
San Bernardino, California
San Bernardino is a city located in the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area , and serves as the county seat of San Bernardino County, California, United States...

. Three wilderness areas are adjacent to Yosemite: the Ansel Adams Wilderness
Ansel Adams Wilderness
The Ansel Adams Wilderness is a wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada of California, USA. The wilderness is part of the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. The wilderness spans...

 to the southeast, the Hoover Wilderness
Hoover Wilderness
The Hoover Wilderness is a wilderness area in the Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests. It lies to the east of the crest of the central Sierra Nevada in California, to the north and east of Yosemite National Park - a long strip of spectacular scenery stretching nearly to Sonora Pass on the...

 to the northeast, and the Emigrant Wilderness
Emigrant Wilderness
The Emigrant Wilderness of Stanislaus National Forest is a wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA. It is bordered by Yosemite National Park on the south, the Toiyabe National Forest on the east, and State Route 108 on the north. It is an elongated area that extends...

 to the north.

The 1189 mi2 park is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 and contains thousands of lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s and pond
Pond
A pond is a body of standing water, either natural or man-made, that is usually smaller than a lake. A wide variety of man-made bodies of water are classified as ponds, including water gardens, water features and koi ponds; all designed for aesthetic ornamentation as landscape or architectural...

s, 1600 miles (2,574.9 km) of streams, 800 miles (1,287.5 km) of hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

 trails, and 350 miles (563.3 km) of roads. Two federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Merced
Merced River
The Merced River , in the central part of the U.S. state of California, is a -long tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada into the Central Valley. It is most well known for its swift and steep course through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, and the...

 and the Tuolumne
Tuolumne River
The Tuolumne River is a California river that flows nearly from the central Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley...

, begin within Yosemite's borders and flow westward through the Sierra foothills, into the Central Valley of California
California Central Valley
California's Central Valley is a large, flat valley that dominates the central portion of California. It is home to California's most productive agricultural efforts. The valley stretches approximately from northwest to southeast inland and parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast. Its northern half is...

. Annual park visitation exceeds 3.5 million, with most visitor use concentrated in the seven-square mile (18 km2) area of Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines...

.

Rocks and erosion



Almost all of the landforms in the Yosemite area are cut from the granitic
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 rock of the Sierra Nevada Batholith
Sierra Nevada Batholith
The Sierra Nevada Batholith is a large batholith which forms the core of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, USA, exposed at the surface as granite....

 (a batholith
Batholith
A batholith is a large emplacement of igneous intrusive rock that forms from cooled magma deep in the Earth's crust...

 is a large mass of intrusive igneous rock
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

 that formed deep below the surface). About 5% of the park's landforms (mostly in its eastern margin near Mount Dana
Mount Dana
Mount Dana is a mountain on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park in the U.S. state of California. At an elevation of , it is the second highest mountain in Yosemite . Mount Dana is the highest peak in Yosemite that is a simple hike to the summit...

) are metamorphosed
Metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock is the transformation of an existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The protolith is subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical and/or chemical change...

 volcanic
Volcanic rock
Volcanic rock is a rock formed from magma erupted from a volcano. In other words, it is an igneous rock of volcanic origin...

 and sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

s. These rocks are called roof pendants because they were once the roof of the underlying granitic rock.

Erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 acting upon different types of uplift-created joint and fracture systems is responsible for creating the valleys, canyons, domes
Dome (geology)
In structural geology, a dome is a deformational feature consisting of symmetrically-dipping anticlines; their general outline on a geologic map is circular or oval...

, and other features we see today. These joints and fracture systems do not move, and are therefore not faults. Spacing between joints is controlled by the amount of silica in the granite and granodiorite
Granodiorite
Granodiorite is an intrusive igneous rock similar to granite, but containing more plagioclase than orthoclase-type feldspar. Officially, it is defined as a phaneritic igneous rock with greater than 20% quartz by volume where at least 65% of the feldspar is plagioclase. It usually contains abundant...

 rocks; more silica tends to create a more resistant rock, resulting in larger spaces between joints and fractures.

Pillars and columns, such as Washington Column and Lost Arrow, are created by cross joints. Erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 acting on master joints is responsible for creating valleys and later canyons. The single most erosive force over the last few million years has been large alpine glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s, which have turned the previously V-shaped river-cut valleys into U-shaped glacial-cut canyons (such as Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines...

 and Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in California. It is currently completely flooded by O'Shaughnessy Dam, forming the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The Tuolumne River fills the reservoir. Upstream from the valley lies the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. The reservoir...

). Exfoliation
Exfoliation (geology)
Exfoliation joints or sheet joints are surface-parallel fracture systems in rock often leading to erosion of concentric slabs.- General characteristics of exfoliation joints :* Commonly follow topography ....

 (caused by the tendency of crystal
Crystal
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

s in pluton
Pluton
A pluton in geology is a body of intrusive igneous rock that crystallized from magma slowly cooling below the surface of the Earth. Plutons include batholiths, dikes, sills, laccoliths, lopoliths, and other igneous bodies...

ic rocks to expand at the surface) acting on granitic rock with widely spaced joints is responsible for creating domes such as Half Dome
Half Dome
Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located in northeastern Mariposa County, California, at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley — possibly Yosemite's most familiar rock formation. The granite crest rises more than above the valley floor....

 and North Dome
North Dome
North Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, California. It is the southern summit of Indian Ridge, north of Washington Column and the Royal Arches on the northeastern wall of Yosemite Valley. It can be reached by trail from the Tioga Pass Road, or by going up the Yosemite Falls trail...

 and inset arches like Royal Arches.

Popular features


Yosemite Valley represents only one percent of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive and stay. The Tunnel View
Wawona Tunnel
The Wawona Tunnel is a highway tunnel in Yosemite National Park, which carries Wawona Road through a mountain on the south side of the Merced River...

 is the first view of the Valley for many visitors and is extensively photographed. El Capitan
El Capitan
El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith extends about from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world's favorite challenges for rock climbers.The formation was...

, a prominent granite cliff that looms over Yosemite Valley, is one of the most popular rock climbing
Rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...

 destinations in the world because of its diverse range of climbing routes in addition to its year-round accessibility. Granite dome
Granite dome
A granite dome is a dome of granite, formed by exfoliation.-Formation:Granite forms plutons of igneous rock several kilometers below the surface as magma slowly cools and crystallizes. The granite is under great overhead pressure....

s such as Sentinel Dome
Sentinel Dome
Sentinel Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, United States. It lies on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, southwest of Glacier Point and northeast of Profile Cliff....

 and Half Dome
Half Dome
Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located in northeastern Mariposa County, California, at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley — possibly Yosemite's most familiar rock formation. The granite crest rises more than above the valley floor....

 rise 3000 and 4800 ft (914.4 and 1,463 m), respectively, above the valley floor.

The high country of Yosemite contains beautiful areas such as Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows is a gentle, dome-studded sub-alpine meadowy section of the Tuolumne River, in the eastern section of Yosemite National Park. Its approximate location is . Its approximate elevation is 8619 feet .-Natural History:...

, Dana Meadows
Dana Meadows
For the activist, see Donella "Dana" Meadows.The Dana Meadows can be found at the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, at the foot of Mount Dana, not far from Tuolumne Meadows and the Tioga Pass entrance station...

, the Clark Range
Clark Range (California)
The Clark Range is a subrange of California's Sierra Nevada in Yosemite National Park.-Geography:The range extends in a north-south direction from Quarzite Peak to Triple Divide Peak and separates the drainage basins of the Illilouette Creek from the uppermost portions of the Merced River...

, the Cathedral Range
Cathedral Range
The Cathedral Range is a mountain range immediately to the South of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, USA. It is a beautiful range, sculpted by glaciers out of granite. The tops of the peaks in the range were above the level of the highest glaciation, and are therefore uneroded and...

, and the Kuna Crest. The Sierra crest and the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

 run through Yosemite, with peaks of red metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock is the transformation of an existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The protolith is subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical and/or chemical change...

, such as Mount Dana
Mount Dana
Mount Dana is a mountain on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park in the U.S. state of California. At an elevation of , it is the second highest mountain in Yosemite . Mount Dana is the highest peak in Yosemite that is a simple hike to the summit...

 and Mount Gibbs
Mount Gibbs
Mount Gibbs is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of the U.S. state of California, south of Mount Dana. The mountain was named after Oliver Gibbs, a professor at Harvard University and friend of Josiah Whitney...

, and granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 peaks, such as Mount Conness. Mount Lyell is the highest point in the park, standing at 13,120 ft. The Lyell Glacier is the largest glacier in Yosemite National Park and is one of the few remaining in the Sierra Nevada today.

The park has three groves of ancient Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s; the Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove located near Wawona, California, United States, in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park, with several hundred mature examples of the tree...

 (200 trees), the Tuolumne Grove
Tuolumne Grove
Tuolumne Grove is a sequoia grove located near Crane Flat in Yosemite National Park, at . It is about west of Yosemite Village on Tioga Pass Road...

 (25 trees), and the Merced Grove
Merced Grove
Merced Grove is a giant sequoia grove located near Crane Flat just inside the western boundary of Yosemite National Park north of El Portal and the Merced River, at [elevation ]. It is in the small valley of Moss Creek, accessible by short hike. It has 40 sequoias over 5 feet in diameter including...

 (20 trees). This species grows larger in volume than any other and is one of the tallest and longest-lived.

Water and ice



Tuolumne
Tuolumne River
The Tuolumne River is a California river that flows nearly from the central Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley...

 and Merced River
Merced River
The Merced River , in the central part of the U.S. state of California, is a -long tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada into the Central Valley. It is most well known for its swift and steep course through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, and the...

 systems originate along the crest of the Sierra Nevada in the park and have carved river canyons 3000 to 4000 ft (914.4 to 1,219.2 m) deep. The Tuolumne River drains the entire northern portion of the park, an area of approximately 680 mi2. The Merced River begins in the park's southern peaks, primarily the Cathedral
Cathedral Range
The Cathedral Range is a mountain range immediately to the South of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, USA. It is a beautiful range, sculpted by glaciers out of granite. The tops of the peaks in the range were above the level of the highest glaciation, and are therefore uneroded and...

 and Clark Ranges
Clark Range (California)
The Clark Range is a subrange of California's Sierra Nevada in Yosemite National Park.-Geography:The range extends in a north-south direction from Quarzite Peak to Triple Divide Peak and separates the drainage basins of the Illilouette Creek from the uppermost portions of the Merced River...

, and drains an area of approximately 511 mi2.

Hydrologic processes, including glaciation, flooding, and fluvial geomorphic response, have been fundamental in creating landforms in the park. The park also contains approximately 3,200 lakes (greater than 100 m²), two reservoirs, and 1700 miles (2,735.9 km) of streams, all of which help form these two large watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

s. Wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s in Yosemite occur in valley bottoms throughout the park, and are often hydrologically linked to nearby lakes and rivers through seasonal flooding and groundwater movement. Meadow
Meadow
A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants . The term is from Old English mædwe. In agriculture a meadow is grassland which is not grazed by domestic livestock but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to make hay...

 habitats, distributed at elevations from 3000 to 11000 ft (914.4 to 3,352.8 m) in the park, are generally wetlands, as are the riparian habitats found on the banks of Yosemite's numerous streams and rivers.

Yosemite is famous for its high concentration of waterfalls in a small area. Numerous sheer drops, glacial steps and hanging valleys in the park provide many places for waterfall
Waterfall
A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff.-Formation:Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young. At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens...

s to exist, especially during April, May, and June (the snowmelt season). Located in Yosemite Valley, the Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls is the highest measured waterfall in North America. Located in Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada of California, it is a major attraction in the park, especially in late spring when the water flow is at its peak....

 is the highest in North America at 2425 feet (739.1 m). Also in Yosemite Valley is the much lower volume Ribbon Falls, which has the highest single vertical drop, 1612 feet (491.3 m). Perhaps the most prominent of the Yosemite Valley waterfalls is Bridalveil Fall
Bridalveil Fall (Yosemite)
Bridalveil Fall is one of the most prominent waterfalls in the Yosemite Valley in California, seen yearly by millions of visitors to Yosemite National Park....

, which is the waterfall seen from the Tunnel View viewpoint at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel
Wawona Tunnel
The Wawona Tunnel is a highway tunnel in Yosemite National Park, which carries Wawona Road through a mountain on the south side of the Merced River...

. Wapama Falls in Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in California. It is currently completely flooded by O'Shaughnessy Dam, forming the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The Tuolumne River fills the reservoir. Upstream from the valley lies the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. The reservoir...

 is another notable waterfall. Hundreds of ephemeral
Ephemeral
Ephemeral things are transitory, existing only briefly. Typically the term is used to describe objects found in nature, although it can describe a wide range of things....

 waterfalls also exist in the park.

All glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s in the park are relatively small glaciers that occupy areas that are in almost permanent shade, such as north- and northeast-facing cirques
Cirque (landform)
thumb|250 px|Two cirques with semi-permanent snowpatches in [[Abisko National Park]], [[Sweden]].A cirque or corrie is an amphitheatre-like valley head, formed at the head of a valley glacier by erosion...

. Lyell Glacier
Lyell Glacier
There is also a Lyell Glacier, South GeorgiaLyell Glacier is a small glacier in the Sierra Nevada of California. The glacier was discovered by John Muir in 1871 , and is the largest glacier in Yosemite National Park. The glacier lies on the northern slopes of Mount Lyell.The glacier has retreated...

 is the largest glacier in Yosemite (the Palisades Glaciers are the largest in the Sierra Nevada) and covers 160 acres (64.7 ha). None of the Yosemite glaciers are a remnant of the much, much larger Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 alpine glaciers responsible for sculpting the Yosemite landscape. Instead, they were formed during one of the neoglacial episodes that have occurred since the thawing of the Ice Age (such as the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

). Climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 has reduced the number and size of glaciers around the world. Many Yosemite glaciers, including Merced Glacier, which was discovered by John Muir
John Muir
John Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions...

 in 1871 and bolstered his glacial origins theory of the Yosemite area, have disappeared and most of the others have lost up to 75% of their surface area.

Climate


Yosemite has a Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

, meaning most precipitation falls during the mild winter, and the other seasons are nearly dry (less than 3% of precipitation falls during the long, hot summers). Because of orographic lift
Orographic lift
Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it quickly cools down adiabatically, which can raise the relative humidity to 100% and create clouds and, under the right conditions,...

, precipitation increases with elevation up to 8000 feet (2,438.4 m) where it slowly decreases to the crest. Precipitation amounts vary from 36 inches (914.4 mm) at 4000 feet (1,219.2 m) elevation to 50 inches (1,270 mm) at 8600 feet (2,621.3 m). Snow does not typically persist on the ground until November in the high country. It accumulates all winter and into March or early April.
Mean daily temperatures range from 25 to 53 °F (-3.9 to 11.5 °C) at Tuolumne Meadows at 8600 feet (2,621.3 m). At the Wawona Entrance (elevation 5130 feet (1,563.6 m)), mean daily temperature ranges from 36 to 67 °F (2.2 to 19.4 C). At the lower elevations below 5000 feet (1,524 m), temperatures are hotter; the mean daily high temperature at Yosemite Valley (elevation 3966 feet (1,208.8 m)) varies from 46 to 90 °F (7.8 to 32.2 C). At elevations above 8000 feet (2,438.4 m), the hot, dry summer temperatures are moderated by frequent summer thunderstorm
Thunderstorm
A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm, a lightning storm, thundershower or simply a storm is a form of weather characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere known as thunder. The meteorologically assigned cloud type associated with the...

s, along with snow that can persist into July. The combination of dry vegetation
Vegetation
Vegetation is a general term for the plant life of a region; it refers to the ground cover provided by plants. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader...

, low relative humidity
Humidity
Humidity is a term for the amount of water vapor in the air, and can refer to any one of several measurements of humidity. Formally, humid air is not "moist air" but a mixture of water vapor and other constituents of air, and humidity is defined in terms of the water content of this mixture,...

, and thunderstorms results in frequent lightning
Lightning
Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms...

-caused fires
Wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

 as well.

At the park headquarters, with an elevation of 3966 feet (1,208.8 m), January averages 37.7 °F (3.2 °C), while July averages 72.7 °F (22.6 °C), though in summer the nights are much cooler than the hot days. There are an average of 46 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 122 nights with freezing temperatures. Freezing temperatures have been recorded in every month of the year. The record high temperature was 115 °F (46 °C) on July 20, 1915, while the record low temperature was -6 °F on January 2, 1924. Average annual precipitation is nearly 38 inches (97 cm), falling on 71 days. The wettest year was 1983 with 68.94 inches (1,751.1 mm) and the dryest year was 1976 with 14.84 inches (376.9 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 29.61 inches (752.1 mm) in December 1955 and the most in one day was 6.92 inches (175.8 mm) on December 23, 1955. Average annual snowfall is 65.6 inches (1.7 m). The snowiest year was 1967 with 154.9 inches (3.9 m). The most snow in one month was 140.8 inches (3.6 m) in January 1993.

Ahwahneechee and the Mariposa Wars


Paiute
Paiute
Paiute refers to three closely related groups of Native Americans — the Northern Paiute of California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon; the Owens Valley Paiute of California and Nevada; and the Southern Paiute of Arizona, southeastern California and Nevada, and Utah.-Origin of name:The origin of...

 and Sierra Miwok
Valley and Sierra Miwok
The Plains and Sierra Miwok , were the largest group of Miwok Native American people...

 peoples lived in the area for a long time before the first white explorations into the region. A band of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 called the Ahwahneechee lived in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines...

 when the first non-indigenous
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 people entered it.

The California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 in the mid-19th century dramatically increased white travel in the area. United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 Major Jim Savage
Jim Savage
Jim Savage or James D. Savage, , California pioneer, 49er, businessman, American soldier in the Mexican American War, and commander of the California Militia, Mariposa Battalion in the Mariposa War, discoverer of the Yosemite Valley.-Early years:...

 led the Mariposa Battalion
Mariposa Battalion
Mariposa Battalion was a California State Militia unit formed in 1851 to fight the Yosemites and Chowchillas in the Mariposa War.After a force under Mariposa County Sheriff James Burney was found unequal to the task of defeating the Indians, Burney made an appeal to Governor John McDougal for help...

 into the west end of Yosemite Valley in 1851 while in pursuit of around 200 Ahwahneechees led by Chief Tenaya
Chief Tenaya
Chief Tenaya was a Native American chief of the Yosemite Valley people in California.-Background:Tenaya's father was the chief of the Ahwahneechee , which means "people of the Ahwahnee" . The Ahwahneechee had become a tribe distinct from the other tribes in the area...

 as part of the Mariposa Wars.
Accounts from this battalion were the first well-documented cases of Caucasians entering Yosemite Valley. Attached to Savage's unit was Dr. Lafayette Bunnell
Lafayette Bunnell
Lafayette Houghton Bunnell was an American physician, explorer, author, and an explorer of Yosemite Valley, born in Rochester, New York.-Biography:...

, the company physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

, who later wrote about his awestruck impressions of the valley in The Discovery of the Yosemite. Bunnell is credited with naming Yosemite Valley from his interviews with Chief Tenaya. Bunnell wrote that Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Pai-Ute Colony of Ah-wah-nee. The Miwoks (and most white settlers) considered the Ahwahneechee to be especially violent because of their frequent territorial disputes, and the Miwok word "yohhe'meti" literally means "they are killers". Correspondence and articles written by members of the battalion helped to popularize Yosemite Valley and surrounding area.

Tenaya and the rest of the Ahwahneechee were eventually captured and their village burned; they were removed to a reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

 near Fresno, California
Fresno, California
Fresno is a city in central California, United States, the county seat of Fresno County. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 510,365, making it the fifth largest city in California, the largest inland city in California, and the 34th largest in the nation...

. Some were later allowed to return to Yosemite Valley, but got in trouble after attacking a group of eight gold miners
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 in the spring of 1852. The band fled eastward to Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean...

, and took refuge with the nearby Mono tribe
Mono tribe
The Mono are a Native American people who traditionally live in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Eastern Sierra , the Mono Basin, and adjacent areas of the Great Basin.-Culture and geography:...

; but after stealing some horses from their hosts, the Ahwahneechees were tracked down and killed by the Mono Paiutes in 1853. In the attack Chief Tenaya was killed and the survivors were taken back to Mono Lake and absorbed into the Mono Lake Paiute tribe. A reconstructed "Indian Village of Ahwahnee" is now located behind the Yosemite Museum
Yosemite Museum
The Yosemite Museum is located in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park in California. Founded in 1926 through the efforts of Ansel Franklin Hall, the museum's displays focus on the heritage and culture of the Ahwaneechee people who lived in the valley...

, which is next to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.

Early tourists


In 1855, entrepreneur James Mason Hutchings
James Mason Hutchings
James Mason Hutchings was an American businessman and one of the principal promoters of what is now Yosemite National Park....

, artist Thomas Ayres
Thomas Ayres
Thomas Ayres was a British born South African ornithologist. In 1850 he migrated with his family to Natal where he started to collect birds. In 1865 he and his brother Jack moved to Potchefstroom, where they hunted and traded with the Boer settlers...

 and two others were the first to tour the area. Hutchings and Ayers were responsible for much of the earliest publicity about Yosemite, creating articles and entire magazine issues about the Valley. Ayres' highly detailed angularly exaggerated artwork and his written accounts were distributed nationally and an art exhibition of his drawings was held in New York City. Hutchings publicity efforts between 1855 and 1860 led to an increase in Yosemite tourism.

Wawona
Wawona, California
Wawona is a census-designated place in Mariposa County, California. It is located east of Mariposa, at an elevation of 3999 feet...

 was an Indian encampment in what is now the southwestern part of the park. Settler Galen Clark
Galen Clark
Galen Clark is known as the first European American to discover the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees, and is notable for his role in gaining legislation to protect it and the Yosemite area, and for 24 years serving as Guardian of Yosemite National Park.-Early life and education:Galen Clark...

 discovered the Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove located near Wawona, California, United States, in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park, with several hundred mature examples of the tree...

 of Giant Sequoia in Wawona in 1857. Simple lodgings were built, as were roads to the area. In 1879, the Wawona Hotel
Wawona Hotel
The Wawona Hotel is a historic hotel located within Yosemite National Park. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.Wawona Hotel is one of the oldest mountain resort hotels in California and a classic of Victorian era resorts. The Victorian style hotel was built in 1876 to serve...

 was built to serve tourists visiting Mariposa Grove. As tourism increased, so did the number of trails and hotels.

The Wawona Tree
Wawona Tree
The Wawona Tree, also known as the Wawona Tunnel Tree, was a famous giant sequoia that stood in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park. It had a height of and was in circumference....

, also known as the Tunnel Tree, was a famous giant sequoia that stood in the Mariposa Grove. It was 227 feet (69.2 m) tall, and was 90 ft (27.4 m) in circumference. A tunnel was cut through the tree in 1881, which made it a popular tourist photo attraction. Everything from horse-drawn carriages in the late 19th century, to automobiles in the first part of the 20th century, traveled the road which passed through that tree. The Wawona Tree
Wawona Tree
The Wawona Tree, also known as the Wawona Tunnel Tree, was a famous giant sequoia that stood in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park. It had a height of and was in circumference....

 fell in 1969 under a heavy load of snow. It was estimated to have been 2,300 years old.

Yosemite Grant


Concerned by the effects of commercial interests, prominent citizens including Galen Clark
Galen Clark
Galen Clark is known as the first European American to discover the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees, and is notable for his role in gaining legislation to protect it and the Yosemite area, and for 24 years serving as Guardian of Yosemite National Park.-Early life and education:Galen Clark...

 and Senator John Conness
John Conness
John Conness was a first-generation Irish-American businessman who served as a U.S. Senator from California during the American Civil War and the early years of Reconstruction. He introduced a bill to establish Yosemite National Park and voted to abolish slavery...

 advocated for protection of the area. A park bill was prepared with the assistance of the General Land Office
General Land Office
The General Land Office was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for public domain lands in the United States. It was created in 1812 to take over functions previously conducted by the United States Department of the Treasury...

 in the Interior Department
United States Department of the Interior
The United States Department of the Interior is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native...

. The bill passed both houses of the 38th United States Congress
38th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:Before this Congress, the 1860 United States Census and resulting reapportionment changed the size of the House to 241 members...

, and was signed by President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 on June 30, 1864, creating the Yosemite Grant. This is the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use by action of the U.S. federal government, and set a precedent for the 1872 creation of Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

 as the first national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

. Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove were ceded to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 as a state park
State park
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the federated state level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational...

, and a board of commissioners was proclaimed two years later.

Galen Clark was appointed by the commission as the Grant's first guardian, but neither Clark nor the commissioners had the authority to evict homesteaders
Homestead Act
A homestead act is one of three United States federal laws that gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" – typically 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River....

 (which included Hutchings). The issue was not settled until 1872 when the homesteader land holdings were invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Clark and the reigning commissioners were ousted in 1880, this dispute also reaching the Supreme Court in 1880 . The two Supreme Court decisions affecting management of the Yosemite Grant are considered import precedents in land management law . Hutchings became the new park guardian.

Access to the park by tourists improved in the early years of the park, and conditions in the Valley were made more hospitable. Tourism significantly increased after the First Transcontinental Railroad
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

 was completed in 1869, but the long horseback ride to reach the area was a deterrent. Three stagecoach
Stagecoach
A stagecoach is a type of covered wagon for passengers and goods, strongly sprung and drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand. Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places of rest provided for stagecoach travelers...

 roads were built in the mid-1870s to provide better access for the growing number of visitors to Yosemite Valley.

Scottish-born naturalist
Naturalist
Naturalist may refer to:* Practitioner of natural history* Conservationist* Advocate of naturalism * Naturalist , autobiography-See also:* The American Naturalist, periodical* Naturalism...

 John Muir
John Muir
John Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions...

 wrote articles popularizing the area and increasing scientific interest in it. Muir was one of the first to theorize that the major landforms in Yosemite Valley were created by large alpine glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s, bucking established scientists such as Josiah Whitney
Josiah Whitney
Josiah Dwight Whitney was an American geologist, professor of geology at Harvard University , and chief of the California Geological Survey...

, who regarded Muir as an amateur. Muir wrote scientific papers on the area's biology.

Increased protection efforts


Overgrazing of meadow
Meadow
A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants . The term is from Old English mædwe. In agriculture a meadow is grassland which is not grazed by domestic livestock but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to make hay...

s (especially by sheep), logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

 of Giant Sequoia, and other damage caused Muir to become an advocate for further protection. Muir convinced prominent guests of the importance of putting the area under federal protection; one such guest was Robert Underwood Johnson
Robert Underwood Johnson
Robert Underwood Johnson was a U.S. writer and diplomat. His wife was Katharine Johnson.-Biography:A native of Washington, D.C., Johnson joined the staff of The Century Magazine in 1873...

, editor of Century Magazine. Muir and Johnson lobbied Congress for the Act that created Yosemite National Park on October 1, 1890. The State of California, however, retained control of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. Muir also helped persuade local officials to virtually eliminate grazing from the Yosemite high country.

The newly created national park came under the jurisdiction of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

's Fourth Cavalry Regiment on May 19, 1891, which set up camp in Wawona. By the late 1890s, sheep grazing was no longer a problem, and the Army made many other improvements. The Cavalry could not intervene to help the worsening condition of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. The cavalry left another legacy in the park, the ranger hat. In 1899 Cavalry and Infantry troopers, including the all Black 9th Cavalry, (known as the "Buffalo Soldiers,") were stationed at Yosemite and brought with them the trooper's hat with the distinctive Montana Peak we recognise today as the "ranger hat." This peak had been formed into the trooper's stetson by veterans of the 1898 Spanish American War to better shed tropical rain.

Muir and his Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

 continued to lobby the government and influential people for the creation of a unified Yosemite National Park. In May 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 camped with Muir near Glacier Point
Glacier Point
thumb|right|upright|Glacier Point, as seen from [[Yosemite Valley]]. In springtime, this cliff face is covered with dozens of freshets and tiny waterfalls from the snowmelt, the largest being [[Staircase Falls]]....

 for three days. On that trip, Muir convinced Roosevelt to take control of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove away from California and return it to the federal government. In 1906, Roosevelt signed a bill that did precisely that.

U.S. National Park Service


The National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 was formed in 1916, and Yosemite was transferred to that agency's jurisdiction. Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, Tioga Pass Road, and campgrounds at Tenaya and Merced lakes were also completed in 1916. Automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s started to enter the park in ever-increasing numbers following the construction of all-weather highways to the park. The Yosemite Museum
Yosemite Museum
The Yosemite Museum is located in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park in California. Founded in 1926 through the efforts of Ansel Franklin Hall, the museum's displays focus on the heritage and culture of the Ahwaneechee people who lived in the valley...

 was founded in 1926 through the efforts of Ansel Franklin Hall
Ansel Franklin Hall
Ansel F. Hall was an American naturalist. He was the first Chief Naturalist and first Chief Forester of the United States National Park Service.-Early career:...

.

In 1903, a dam in the northern portion of the park was proposed. Located in the Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in California. It is currently completely flooded by O'Shaughnessy Dam, forming the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The Tuolumne River fills the reservoir. Upstream from the valley lies the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. The reservoir...

, its purpose was to provide water and hydroelectric power to San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

. Preservationists like Muir and his Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

 opposed the project, while conservationists
Conservation ethic
Conservation is an ethic of resource use, allocation, and protection. Its primary focus is upon maintaining the health of the natural world: its, fisheries, habitats, and biological diversity. Secondary focus is on materials conservation and energy conservation, which are seen as important to...

 like Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot was the first Chief of the United States Forest Service and the 28th Governor of Pennsylvania...

 supported it. In 1913, the U.S. Congress authorized the O'Shaughnessy Dam
O'Shaughnessy Dam
The O'Shaughnessy Dam is a curved gravity dam on the Tuolumne River in the Hetch Hetchy Valley of California's Sierra Nevada. The dam is located in Yosemite National Park, and creates the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. It is named for former San Francisco chief engineer and the original chief engineer of...

 through passage of the Raker Act
Raker Act
The Raker Act was an act of the United States Congress that permitted building of the O'Shaughnessy Dam and flooding of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, California. It is named for John E. Raker, its chief sponsor...

.

More recently, preservationists persuaded Congress to designate 677600 acres (274,215.2 ha), or about 89% of the park, as the Yosemite Wilderness—a highly protected wilderness area. The Park Service has reduced artificial inducements to visit the park, such as the Firefall
Yosemite Firefall
The Yosemite Firefall was a summer time ritual that lasted from 1872 until 1968 in which burning hot embers were dropped a height of about 3000 feet from the top of Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park down to the valley below, and from a distance looked similar to a glowing water fall because...

, in which red-hot embers were pushed off a cliff near Glacier Point
Glacier Point
thumb|right|upright|Glacier Point, as seen from [[Yosemite Valley]]. In springtime, this cliff face is covered with dozens of freshets and tiny waterfalls from the snowmelt, the largest being [[Staircase Falls]]....

 at night. Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction...

 in Yosemite Valley during the summer months has become a concern. Two electric buses commenced service in September 1995. The buses are quiet and do not emit pollutants. Eventually, all the buses in Yosemite will be electric. Plans to exclude all automobiles in the summer that are not registered at a hotel or campground within Yosemite Valley have been investigated; this would put summer day-use visitors in the valley on free shuttle buses, bicycles, or on foot. The 1996 Yosemite Valley Landslide
1996 Yosemite Valley Landslide
The 1996 Yosemite Valley landslide occurred July 10 1996 near the Happy Isles trailhead in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California. 162,000 tons of rocks and other debris fell to the ground at over 160 miles per hour. Of 12 campers/hikers involved in the incident, one...

 killed a hiker and the January 1997 Merced River flood damaged many roads and several campgrounds.

After a storm from March 19–20, 2011, the Park and roads in and around it were closed. It was the first time in fifteen years the park had entirely ceased operations. Power was out in Yosemite Valley and convoys escorted tourists out of the Park. Power was finally restored to Yosemite on Sunday, March 27.

Tectonic and volcanic activity


The area of the park was astride a passive continental margin during the Precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

 and early Paleozoic
Paleozoic
The Paleozoic era is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon, spanning from roughly...

. Sediment was derived from continental sources and was deposited in shallow water. These rocks have since been metamorphosed
Metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock is the transformation of an existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The protolith is subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical and/or chemical change...

.

Heat generated from the Farallon Plate
Farallon Plate
The Farallon Plate was an ancient oceanic plate, which began subducting under the west coast of the North American Plate— then located in modern Utah— as Pangaea broke apart during the Jurassic Period...

 subducting
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 below the North American Plate
North American Plate
The North American Plate is a tectonic plate covering most of North America, Greenland, Cuba, Bahamas, and parts of Siberia, Japan and Iceland. It extends eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and westward to the Chersky Range in eastern Siberia. The plate includes both continental and oceanic crust...

 led to the creation of an island arc
Island arc
An island arc is a type of archipelago composed of a chain of volcanoes which alignment is arc-shaped, and which are situated parallel and close to a boundary between two converging tectonic plates....

 of volcanoes on the west coast of proto-North America between the late Devonian
Devonian
The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic Era spanning from the end of the Silurian Period, about 416.0 ± 2.8 Mya , to the beginning of the Carboniferous Period, about 359.2 ± 2.5 Mya...

 and Permian
Permian
The PermianThe term "Permian" was introduced into geology in 1841 by Sir Sir R. I. Murchison, president of the Geological Society of London, who identified typical strata in extensive Russian explorations undertaken with Edouard de Verneuil; Murchison asserted in 1841 that he named his "Permian...

 periods. Later volcanism in the Jurassic
Jurassic
The Jurassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about Mya to  Mya, that is, from the end of the Triassic to the beginning of the Cretaceous. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic era, also known as the age of reptiles. The start of the period is marked by...

 intruded and covered these rocks in what may have been magmatic activity associated with the early stages of the creation of the Sierra Nevada Batholith
Sierra Nevada Batholith
The Sierra Nevada Batholith is a large batholith which forms the core of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, USA, exposed at the surface as granite....

. 95% of these rocks were eventually removed by uplifted-accelerated erosion.

The first phase of regional plutonism started 210 million years ago in the late Triassic and continued throughout the Jurassic to about 150 million years before present (BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

). Around the same time, the Nevadan orogeny
Nevadan orogeny
The Nevadan Orogeny was a major mountain building event that took place along the western edge of ancient North America between the Mid to Late Jurassic...

 built the Nevadan mountain range (also called the Ancestral Sierra Nevada) to a height of 15000 feet (4,572 m). This was directly part of the creation of the Sierra Nevada Batholith, and the resulting rocks were mostly granitic
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 in composition and emplaced about 6 miles (9.7 km) below the surface. The second major pluton emplacement phase lasted from about 120 million to 80 million years ago during the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
The Cretaceous , derived from the Latin "creta" , usually abbreviated K for its German translation Kreide , is a geologic period and system from circa to million years ago. In the geologic timescale, the Cretaceous follows the Jurassic period and is followed by the Paleogene period of the...

. This was part of the Sevier orogeny
Sevier orogeny
The Sevier orogeny was a mountain-building event that affected western North America from Canada to the north to Mexico to the south. This orogeny was the result of convergent boundary tectonic activity between approximately 140 million years ago and 50 Ma. The Sevier River area of central Utah...

.

Starting 20 million years ago (in the Cenozoic
Cenozoic
The Cenozoic era is the current and most recent of the three Phanerozoic geological eras and covers the period from 65.5 mya to the present. The era began in the wake of the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous that saw the demise of the last non-avian dinosaurs and...

) and lasting until 5 million years ago, a now-extinct extension of Cascade Range
Cascade Range
The Cascade Range is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as the North Cascades, and the notable volcanoes known as the High Cascades...

 volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

es erupted, bringing large amounts of igneous material in the area. These igneous deposits blanketed the region north of the Yosemite region. Volcanic activity persisted past 5 million years BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

 east of the current park borders in the Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean...

 and Long Valley
Long Valley Caldera
Long Valley Caldera is a depression in eastern California that is adjacent to Mammoth Mountain. The valley is one of the largest calderas on earth, measuring about long and wide . The elevation of the floor of the caldera is in the east and in the west...

 areas.

Uplift and erosion


Starting 10 million years ago, vertical movement along the Sierra fault started to uplift the Sierra Nevada. Subsequent tilting of the Sierra block and the resulting accelerated uplift of the Sierra Nevada increased the gradient
Gradient
In vector calculus, the gradient of a scalar field is a vector field that points in the direction of the greatest rate of increase of the scalar field, and whose magnitude is the greatest rate of change....

 of western-flowing streams. The streams consequently ran faster and thus cut their valleys more quickly. Additional uplift occurred when major faults developed to the east, especially the creation of Owens Valley
Owens Valley
Owens Valley is the arid valley of the Owens River in eastern California in the United States, to the east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the White Mountains and Inyo Mountains on the west edge of the Great Basin section...

 from Basin and Range
Basin and Range
The Basin and Range Province is a vast physiographic region defined by a unique topographic expression. Basin and Range topography is characterized by abrupt changes in elevation, alternating between narrow faulted mountain chains and flat arid valleys or basins...

-associated extensional forces. Uplift of the Sierra accelerated again about two million years ago during the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

.

The uplifting and increased erosion exposed granitic rocks in the area to surface pressures, resulting in exfoliation
Exfoliation (geology)
Exfoliation joints or sheet joints are surface-parallel fracture systems in rock often leading to erosion of concentric slabs.- General characteristics of exfoliation joints :* Commonly follow topography ....

 (responsible for the rounded shape of the many domes in the park) and mass wasting following the numerous fracture joint planes (cracks; especially vertical ones) in the now solidified plutons. Pleistocene glaciers further accelerated this process and the larger ones transported the resulting talus
Scree
Scree, also called talus, is a term given to an accumulation of broken rock fragments at the base of crags, mountain cliffs, or valley shoulders. Landforms associated with these materials are sometimes called scree slopes or talus piles...

 and till
Till
thumb|right|Closeup of glacial till. Note that the larger grains in the till are completely surrounded by the matrix of finer material , and this characteristic, known as matrix support, is diagnostic of till....

 from valley floors.

Numerous vertical joint planes controlled where and how fast erosion took place. Most of these long, linear and very deep cracks trend northeast or northwest and form parallel, often regularly spaced sets. They were created by uplift-associated pressure release and by the unloading of overlying rock via erosion.

Sculpting by glaciers


A series of glaciations further modified the region starting about 2 to 3 million years ago and ending sometime around 10,000 BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

. At least four major glaciations have occurred in the Sierra Nevada, locally called the Sherwin (also called the pre-Tahoe), Tahoe, Tenaya, and Tioga. The Sherwin glaciers were the largest, filling Yosemite and other valleys, while later stages produced much smaller glaciers. A Sherwin-age glacier was almost surely responsible for the major excavation and shaping of Yosemite Valley and other canyons in the area.

Glacial systems reached depths of up to 4000 feet (1,219.2 m) and left their marks in the Yosemite area. The longest glacier in the Yosemite area ran down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River
Tuolumne River
The Tuolumne River is a California river that flows nearly from the central Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin River in the Central Valley...

 for 60 miles (96.6 km), passing well beyond Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley
Hetch Hetchy Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in California. It is currently completely flooded by O'Shaughnessy Dam, forming the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The Tuolumne River fills the reservoir. Upstream from the valley lies the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. The reservoir...

. Merced Glacier flowed out of Yosemite Valley and into the Merced River Gorge
Merced River
The Merced River , in the central part of the U.S. state of California, is a -long tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada into the Central Valley. It is most well known for its swift and steep course through the southern part of Yosemite National Park, and the...

. Lee Vining Glacier carved Lee Vining Canyon and emptied into Lake Russel (the much-enlarged ice age version of Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean...

). Only the highest peaks, such as Mount Dana
Mount Dana
Mount Dana is a mountain on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park in the U.S. state of California. At an elevation of , it is the second highest mountain in Yosemite . Mount Dana is the highest peak in Yosemite that is a simple hike to the summit...

 and Mount Conness, were not covered by glaciers. Retreating glaciers often left recessional moraine
Moraine
A moraine is any glacially formed accumulation of unconsolidated glacial debris which can occur in currently glaciated and formerly glaciated regions, such as those areas acted upon by a past glacial maximum. This debris may have been plucked off a valley floor as a glacier advanced or it may have...

s that impounded lakes such as the 5.5 miles (9 km) long Lake Yosemite (a shallow lake that periodically covered much of the floor of Yosemite Valley).


Habitats



With its scrubby sun-baked chaparral
Chaparral
Chaparral is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the U.S. state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico...

, stately groves of pine, fir, and sequoia, and expanses of alpine woodlands and meadows, Yosemite National Park preserves a Sierra Nevada landscape as it prevailed before Euro-American settlement. In contrast to surrounding lands, which have been significantly altered by logging, the park still contains some 225510 acres (91,260.7 ha) of old-growth forest. Taken together, the park's varied habitats
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

 support over 250 species of vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s, which include fish, amphibians, reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, birds, and mammals.

Along much of Yosemite's western boundary, habitats are dominated by mixed coniferous forests of Ponderosa Pine
Ponderosa Pine
Pinus ponderosa, commonly known as the Ponderosa Pine, Bull Pine, Blackjack Pine, or Western Yellow Pine, is a widespread and variable pine native to western North America. It was first described by David Douglas in 1826, from eastern Washington near present-day Spokane...

, Sugar Pine
Sugar Pine
Pinus lambertiana, commonly known as the sugar pine or sugar cone pine, is the tallest and most massive pine, with the longest cones of any conifer...

, Incense-cedar, White Fir
White Fir
White Fir is a fir native to the mountains of western North America, occurring at altitudes of 900-3,400 m. It is a medium to large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 25–60 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 2 m . It is popular as an ornamental landscaping tree and as a Christmas Tree...

, Douglas Fir, and a few stands of Giant Sequoia, interspersed by areas of Black Oak
California Black Oak
Quercus kelloggii, the California Black Oak, also known as simply Black Oak, or Kellogg Oak, is an oak in the red oak section , native to western North America...

 and Canyon Live Oak
Live oak
Live oak , also known as the southern live oak, is a normally evergreen oak tree native to the southeastern United States...

. A relatively high diversity of wildlife species are supported by these habitats, because of relatively mild, lower-elevation climate and the mixture of habitat types and plant species. Wildlife species typically found in these habitats include American black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

, Bobcat
Bobcat
The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago . With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States...

, Cougar, Gray fox
Gray Fox
The gray fox is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America...

, Mule deer
Mule Deer
The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer...

, Mountain kingsnake
Kingsnake
Kingsnakes are a type of colubrid snake that are members of the Lampropeltis genus, which also includes the milk snake along with another four species and 45 sub-species....

, Gilbert's skink
Gilbert's Skink
Gilbert's Skink is a heavy-bodied medium-sized lizard of the family of skinks living in the south-western United States. It grows to about 7 to 12 cm total length.- Taxonomy :...

, White-headed Woodpecker
White-headed Woodpecker
The White-headed Woodpecker is a non-migratory woodpecker that resides in pine forests of the mountains of western North America. It has a black body and white head. It has white primary feathers that form a crescent in flight...

, Brown Creeper
Brown Creeper
-Description:Adults are brown on the upperparts with light spotting, resembling a piece of tree bark, with white underparts. They have a long thin bill with a slight downward curve and a long tail. The male creeper has a slightly larger bill than the female...

, Spotted Owl
Spotted Owl
The Spotted Owl, Strix occidentalis, is a species of true owl. It is a resident species of forests in western North America, where it nests in tree holes, old bird of prey nests, or rock crevices. Nests can be between 13 and 66 yards high and usually contain two eggs...

, and a wide variety of bat species. In the case of bats, large snags are important as roost sites.

Going higher in elevation, the coniferous forests become purer stands of Red Fir
Fir
Firs are a genus of 48–55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range...

, Western White Pine
Western White Pine
Western White Pine, Pinus monticola in the family Pinaceae, is a species of pine that occurs in the mountains of the western United States and Canada, specifically the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Coast Range, and the northern Rocky Mountains. The tree extends down to sea level in many...

, Jeffrey Pine
Jeffrey Pine
The Jeffrey Pine, Pinus jeffreyi, named in honor of its botanist documenter John Jeffrey, is a North American pine related to Ponderosa Pine.-Distribution and habitat:...

, Lodgepole Pine
Lodgepole Pine
Lodgepole Pine, Pinus contorta, also known as Shore Pine, is a common tree in western North America. Like all pines, it is evergreen.-Subspecies:...

, and the occasional Foxtail pine
Foxtail Pine
The Foxtail Pine is a rare pine that is endemic to California, United States, where it is found in two areas with a separate subspecies in each, the typical subsp. balfouriana in the Klamath Mountains, and subsp. austrina in the southern Sierra Nevada.-Description:Foxtail Pine is a tree to tall,...

. Fewer wildlife species tend to be found in these habitats, because of their higher elevation and lower complexity. Species likely to be found include Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
The golden-mantled ground squirrel, Callospermophilus lateralis, is a type of ground squirrel found in mountainous areas of western North America. It eats seeds, nuts, berries, insects, and underground fungi. It is preyed upon by hawks, jays, weasels, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. A typical adult...

, Chickaree, Fisher
Fisher (animal)
The fisher is a medium-size mammal native to North America. It is a member of the mustelid family, commonly referred to as the weasel family. The fisher is closely related to but larger than the American Marten...

, Steller's Jay
Steller's Jay
The Steller's Jay is a jay native to western North America, closely related to the Blue Jay found in the rest of the continent, but with a black head and upper body. It is also known as the Long-crested Jay, Mountain Jay, and Pine Jay...

, Hermit Thrush
Hermit Thrush
The Hermit Thrush is a medium-sized North American thrush. It is not very closely related to the other North American migrant species of Catharus, but rather to the Mexican Russet Nightingale-thrush.-Description:...

, and Northern Goshawk. Reptiles are not common, but include Rubber Boa
Rubber Boa
The Rubber Boa is a snake in the family Boidae that is native to the Western United States.-Taxonomy:The Rubber Boa is a snake in the family Boidae and genus Charina. The name Charina is from the Greek for graceful or delightful, and the name bottae honors Dr. Paolo E. Botta, an Italian ship's...

, western fence lizard
Western fence lizard
The western fence lizard is a common lizard of California and the surrounding area. Because the ventral abdomen of an adult is characteristically blue, it is also known as the blue-belly...

, and Northern Alligator Lizard
Northern Alligator Lizard
The Northern Alligator Lizard is a medium-sized lizard that occurs on the North American west coast.- Taxonomy :This lizard was formerly known under the scientific name of Gerrhonotus coeruleus , but is nowadays classed as Elgaria coerulea. There are four subspecies:* E.c...

.

As the landscape rises, trees become smaller and more sparse, with stands broken by areas of exposed granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

. These include Lodgepole Pine
Lodgepole Pine
Lodgepole Pine, Pinus contorta, also known as Shore Pine, is a common tree in western North America. Like all pines, it is evergreen.-Subspecies:...

, Whitebark Pine
Whitebark Pine
Pinus albicaulis, known commonly as Whitebark Pine, Pitch Pine, Scrub Pine, and Creeping Pine occurs in the mountains of the Western United States and Canada, specifically the subalpine areas of the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Pacific Coast Ranges, and the northern Rocky Mountains –...

, and Mountain Hemlock
Mountain Hemlock
Tsuga mertensiana, known as Mountain Hemlock, is a species of hemlock native to the west coast of North America, with its northwestern limit on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, and its southeastern limit in northern Tulare County, California....

 that, at highest elevations, give way to vast expanses of granite as treeline is reached. The climate in these habitats is harsh and the growing season is short, but species such as Pika
Pika
The pika is a small mammal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and short tail. The name pika is used for any member of the Ochotonidae, a family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae . One genus, Ochotona, is recognised within the family, and it includes 30 species...

, Yellow-bellied Marmot
Yellow-bellied Marmot
The yellow-bellied marmot , also known as the rock chuck, is a ground squirrel in the marmot genus.-Description:...

, White-tailed Jackrabbit
White-tailed Jackrabbit
The White-tailed Jackrabbit , also known as the Prairie Hare and the White Jack, is a hare found in western North America. Briefly reputed to have been extirpated , it is now clear from observations, roadkilled specimens and historical records that white-tailed jackrabbits are still extant in...

, Clark's Nutcracker
Clark's Nutcracker
Clark's Nutcracker , sometimes referred to as Clark's Crow or Woodpecker Crow, is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae. It is slightly smaller than its Eurasian relative the Spotted Nutcracker . It is ashy-grey all over except for the black-and-white wings and central tail feathers...

, and Black Rosy Finch
Black Rosy Finch
The Black Rosy Finch, or Black Rosy-finch, is a species of passerine bird in the family Fringillidae native to the western United States.-Taxonomy:...

 are adapted to these conditions. Also, the treeless alpine habitats are the areas favored by Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep
Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep is a subspecies of bighorn sheep. Early taxonomic schemes included herds from British Columbia to southern California in a broader subspecies Ovis canadensis californiana. More recent genetic testing has indicated that O. c...

. This species, however, is now found in the Yosemite area only around Tioga Pass, where a small, reintroduced population exists.

At a variety of elevations, meadows provide important, productive habitat for wildlife. Animals come to feed on the green grasses
Poaceae
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

 and use the flowing and standing water found in many meadows. Predators
Predation
In ecology, predation describes a biological interaction where a predator feeds on its prey . Predators may or may not kill their prey prior to feeding on them, but the act of predation always results in the death of its prey and the eventual absorption of the prey's tissue through consumption...

, in turn, are attracted to these areas. The interface between meadow and forest is also favored by many animal species because of the proximity of open areas for foraging and cover for protection. Species that are highly dependent upon meadow habitat include Great Grey Owl
Great Grey Owl
The Great Grey Owl or Lapland Owl is a very large owl, distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. In some areas it is also called the Great Gray Ghost, Phantom of the north, Cinereous Owl, Spectral Owl, Lapland Owl, Spruce Owl, Bearded Owl and Sooty Owl.-Description:Adults have a big, rounded...

, Willow Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
The Willow Flycatcher is a small insect-eating bird of the tyrant flycatcher family.Adults have brown-olive upperparts, darker on the wings and tail, with whitish underparts; they have an indistinct white eye ring, white wing bars and a small bill. The breast is washed with olive-grey. The upper...

, Yosemite Toad
Yosemite Toad
The Yosemite toad is a species of the true toad family Bufonidae . Endemic to the Sierra Nevada of California, the toads range is located primarily in the Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park of the central Sierra Nevada...

, and Mountain Beaver
Mountain Beaver
The Mountain Beaver is the most primitive extant rodent. Not to be confused with the North American beaver Castor canadensis, or its relative the Eurasian beaver, Castor fiber, it has several common names including Aplodontia, Boomer, Ground Bear, and Giant Mole...

.

Management issues



Despite the richness of high-quality habitats in Yosemite, the Brown Bear
Brown Bear
The brown bear is a large bear distributed across much of northern Eurasia and North America. It can weigh from and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak Bear, rivals the polar bear as the largest member of the bear family and as the largest land-based predator.There are several recognized...

, California Condor
California Condor
The California Condor is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California...

, and Least Bell's Vireo have become extinct in the park within historical time, and another 37 species currently have special status under either California or federal endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 legislation. The most serious current threats to Yosemite's wildlife and the ecosystems they occupy include loss of a natural fire regime, exotic species, air pollution
Air pollution
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere....

, habitat fragmentation
Habitat fragmentation
Habitat fragmentation as the name implies, describes the emergence of discontinuities in an organism's preferred environment , causing population fragmentation...

, and climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. On a more local basis, factors such as road kill
Road Kill
Road Kill is a pair of live albums released by Celtic rock band Seven Nations in 1998. According to the band, the discs were meant to portray the band's live act realistically, and to preserve "the intensity and energy that make our concerts so much fun both for us and our audiences." The band's...

s and the availability of human food have affected some wildlife species.


The black bears of Yosemite were once famous for breaking into parked cars to steal food. They were also an encouraged tourist sight for many years at the park's garbage dumps, where bears congregated to eat park visitors' garbage and tourists gathered to photograph the bears. Increasing encounters between bears and humans and increasing damage to property led to an aggressive campaign to discourage bears from relying on human food or interacting with people and their property. The open-air dumps were closed; all trash receptacles were replaced with bear-proof
Bear-resistant food storage container
Bear-resistant food storage containers, commonly called bear canisters or simply bear cans, are usually hard-sided containers used by backpackers to protect their food from theft by bears...

 receptacles; all campgrounds were equipped with bear-proof food lockers so that people would not leave food in their vehicles, which were easy targets for the powerful and resourceful bears. Because bears who show aggression towards people usually are eventually destroyed, park personnel have continued to come up with innovative ways to have bears associate humans and their property with unpleasant experiences, such as being hit with rubber bullet
Rubber bullet
Rubber bullets are rubber or rubber-coated projectiles that can be fired from either standard firearms or dedicated riot guns. They are intended to be a non-lethal alternative to metal projectiles...

s. Today, about 30 bears a year are captured and ear-tagged and their DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 is sampled so that, when bear damage occurs, rangers can ascertain which bear is causing the problem.

Increasing ozone
Ozone
Ozone , or trioxygen, is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope...

 pollution is causing tissue damage to the massive Giant Sequoia trees in the park. This makes them more vulnerable to insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

 infestation and disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

. Since the cones
Conifer cone
A cone is an organ on plants in the division Pinophyta that contains the reproductive structures. The familiar woody cone is the female cone, which produces seeds. The male cones, which produce pollen, are usually herbaceous and much less conspicuous even at full maturity...

 of these trees require fire-touched soil to germinate
Germination
Germination is the process in which a plant or fungus emerges from a seed or spore, respectively, and begins growth. The most common example of germination is the sprouting of a seedling from a seed of an angiosperm or gymnosperm. However the growth of a sporeling from a spore, for example the...

, historic fire suppression has reduced these trees' ability to reproduce. The current policy of setting prescribed fires is expected to help the germination issue.

Yosemite National Park has documented more than 130 non-native plant species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 within park boundaries. These non-native plants were introduced into Yosemite following the migration of early Euro-American
European colonization of the Americas
The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

 settlers in the late 1850s. Natural and human-caused disturbances, such as wildland fires and construction activities, have contributed to a rapid increase in the spread of non-native plants. A number of these species aggressively invade and displace the native plant communities, resulting in impacts on the park's resources. Non-native plants can bring about significant changes in park ecosystems by altering the native plant communities and the processes that support them. Some non-native species may cause an increase in the fire frequency of an area or increase the available nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 in the soil that may allow more non-native plants to become established. Many non-native species, such as Yellow Star Thistle
Yellow starthistle
Centaurea solstitialis, yellow star-thistle, is a member of the Asteraceae family, native to the Mediterranean Basin region. The plant is also known as golden starthistle, yellow cockspur and St...

 (Centaurea solstitialis), are able to produce a long tap root that allows them to out-compete the native plants for available water.

Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare
Cirsium vulgare
Cirsium vulgare is a species of the genus Cirsium, native throughout most of Europe , western Asia , and northwestern Africa...

), Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), and Klamath Weed (Hypericum perforatum) have been identified as noxious pests in Yosemite since the 1940s. Additional species that have been recognized more recently as aggressive and requiring control are Yellow Star Thistle (Centaurea solstitialis), Sweet Clover (Melilot
Melilot
Melilotus, known as Melilot or Sweet-clover, is a genus in the family Fabaceae. Members are known as common grassland plants and as weeds of cultivated ground. Originally from Europe and Asia, it is now found worldwide....

spp.), Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus
Rubus armeniacus
Rubus armeniacus, Armenian Blackberry or Himalayan Blackberry, is a species of Rubus in the blackberry group Rubus subgenus Rubus series Discolores Focke. It is native to Armenia in southwest Asia, and widely naturalised elsewhere...

), Cut-leaved Blackberry (Rubus laciniatus
Rubus laciniatus
Rubus laciniatus, the Cutleaf Evergreen Blackberry or Evergreen Blackberry, is a species of Rubus native to Europe. it is an introduced species in North America...

) and Large Periwinkle (Vinca major
Vinca major
Vinca major, with the common names Bigleaf Periwinkle, Large Periwinkle, Greater Periwinkle and Blue Periwinkle, is an herbaceous, perennial, rhizomatous and stoloniferous flowering plant in the genus Vinca belonging to the family Apocynaceae.-Etymology:The genus name probably derives from the...

).

Activities


Yosemite Valley is open year-round, but much of the remaining park is closed because of snow in late autumn
Autumn
Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter usually in September or March when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier....

 and re-opens in mid to late spring
Spring (season)
Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

. Open-air tours around Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove located near Wawona, California, United States, in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park, with several hundred mature examples of the tree...

 of Giant Sequoias are available. Many people enjoy short walks and longer hikes to waterfalls in Yosemite Valley, or walks amongst Giant Sequoias in the Mariposa, Tuolumne, or Merced Groves. Others like to drive or take a tour bus to Glacier Point
Glacier Point
thumb|right|upright|Glacier Point, as seen from [[Yosemite Valley]]. In springtime, this cliff face is covered with dozens of freshets and tiny waterfalls from the snowmelt, the largest being [[Staircase Falls]]....

 (summer-fall) to see a spectacular view of Yosemite Valley and the high country, or drive along the scenic Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows is a gentle, dome-studded sub-alpine meadowy section of the Tuolumne River, in the eastern section of Yosemite National Park. Its approximate location is . Its approximate elevation is 8619 feet .-Natural History:...

 (summer-fall) and go for a walk or hike.

Most park visitors stay just for the day, and only visit locations within Yosemite Valley that are easily accessible by automobile. There is a US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

20 per automobile user fee to enter the park. Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction...

 in the valley is a serious problem during peak season, in summer. A free shuttle bus system
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 operates year-round in the valley, and park ranger
Park ranger
A park ranger or forest ranger is a person entrusted with protecting and preserving parklands – national, state, provincial, or local parks. Different countries use different names for the position. Ranger is the favored term in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Within the United...

s encourage people to use this system since parking within the valley during the summer is often nearly impossible to find.

In addition to exploring the natural features of the park, visitors can also learn about the natural
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

 and cultural
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 history of Yosemite Valley at a number of facilities in the valley: the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, the adjoining Yosemite Museum
Yosemite Museum
The Yosemite Museum is located in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park in California. Founded in 1926 through the efforts of Ansel Franklin Hall, the museum's displays focus on the heritage and culture of the Ahwaneechee people who lived in the valley...

, and the Nature Center at Happy Isles. There are also two National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

s: the LeConte Memorial Lodge (Yosemite's first public visitor center), and the world-famous Ahwahnee Hotel
Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel is a destination hotel in Yosemite National Park, California, on the floor of Yosemite Valley, constructed from stone, concrete, wood and glass, which opened in 1927...

. Camp 4 was added to the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 in 2003.

Hiking


Over 800 miles (1,287.5 km) of trails are available to hikers—anything from the easy stroll, to the grueling hikes up several park mountains, to multiple-day backpack trips
Backpacking (wilderness)
Backpacking combines the activities of hiking and camping for an overnight stay in backcountry wilderness...

.

The park can be divided into 5 sections for the day-user—Yosemite Valley, Wawona/Mariposa Grove/ Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, Hetch Hetchy, and Crane Flat/White Wolf. Numerous books describe park trails, and free information is available from the Park Service in Yosemite. Park rangers encourage visitors to experience portions of the park in addition to Yosemite Valley.

Between late spring and early fall, much of the park is open to multiple-day backpack trips. All overnight trips into the back country require a wilderness permit and most require approved bear-resistant food storage
Bear-resistant food storage container
Bear-resistant food storage containers, commonly called bear canisters or simply bear cans, are usually hard-sided containers used by backpackers to protect their food from theft by bears...

.

Driving destinations




While some locations in Yosemite require hiking, other locations can be observed via automobile transportation. Driving locations also allow guests to observe the night sky in locations other than their campsite or lodge. All of the roads in Yosemite are scenic, but the most famous is the Tioga Road, typically open from late May or early June through November.

As an alternative to driving, bicycles are allowed on the roads. However, bicycles are only allowed off-road on 12 miles (19.3 km) of paved trails in Yosemite Valley itself; mountain biking is not allowed.

Climbing


Rock climbing
Rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...

 is an important part of Yosemite. Camp 4
Camp 4 (Yosemite)
Camp 4 is a campground in Yosemite National Park. It became notable after World War II as the hangout for rock climbers with many spending months there . It is located near Yosemite Falls, on the north side of the valley. There is a single parking lot at the campground, and no driveways connecting...

, a walk-in campground in Yosemite Valley, was instrumental in the development of rock climbing as a sport, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

. Climbers can generally be spotted in the snow-free months on anything from ten-foot-high (3 m) boulders to the 3300 feet (1 km) face of El Capitan
El Capitan
El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith extends about from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world's favorite challenges for rock climbers.The formation was...

. Classes are offered by numerous groups on rock climbing.

Winter activities



Many of the roads in the park close because of heavy snow in winter; however, Yosemite Valley is open all year long. Downhill skiing is available at the Badger Pass Ski Area
Badger Pass Ski Area
Badger Pass Ski Area is a small ski area located within Yosemite National Park. Badger Pass is one of only three lift serviced ski areas operating in a US National Park...

—the oldest downhill skiing area in California, offering downhill skiing from mid-December through early April. Much of the park is open to cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing is a winter sport in which participants propel themselves across snow-covered terrain using skis and poles...

 and snowshoe
Snowshoe
A snowshoe is footwear for walking over the snow. Snowshoes work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person's foot does not sink completely into the snow, a quality called "flotation"....

ing, with several backcountry ski huts open for use. Wilderness permits are required for backcountry overnight ski trips.

The Bracebridge dinner
Bracebridge dinner
The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite is an annual Christmas event held at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Started in 1927, the Ahwahnee's first year of operation, the dinner is inspired by the fictional Squire Bracebridge's Yule celebration in a story from The Sketch Book of Geoffrey...

 is an annual holiday event, held since 1927 at the Ahwahnee Hotel
Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel is a destination hotel in Yosemite National Park, California, on the floor of Yosemite Valley, constructed from stone, concrete, wood and glass, which opened in 1927...

, inspired by Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

's descriptions of Squire Bracebridge and English Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 traditions of the 18th century in his Sketch Book. Between 1929 and 1973, the show was organized by Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams
Ansel Easton Adams was an American photographer and environmentalist, best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West, especially in Yosemite National Park....

.

Other


Bicycle rentals are available in Yosemite Valley spring through fall. Over 12 miles (19.3 km) of paved bike paths are available in Yosemite Valley. In addition, bicyclists can ride on regular roads. Helmets
Bicycle helmet
A bicycle helmet is a helmet intended to be worn while riding a bicycle. They are designed to attenuate impacts to the skull of a cyclist in falls while minimizing side effects such as interference with peripheral vision...

 are required by law for children under 18 years of age. Off-trail riding and mountain biking
Mountain biking
Mountain biking is a sport which consists of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially adapted mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes, but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain.Mountain biking can...

 are not permitted in Yosemite National Park.

Water activities are plentiful during warmer months. Rafting can be done through the Yosemite Valley on the Merced River. There is also a swimming pool available at Curry Village.
In 2010, Yosemite National Park was honored with its own quarter under the America the Beautiful Quarters program.

See also


  • African-American Heritage Sites (U.S. National Park Service)
    African-American Heritage Sites (U.S. National Park Service)
    The National Park System no only preserves the history and contributions of African Americans. It is also a part of the nations history. Over the years, the National Park Service has reflected the nations social history...

  • Buffalo Soldier

Fauna of the Sierra Nevada (U.S.)

External links