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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is internationally renowned for its spectacular cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves and biological diversity.


Hang gliding over Yosemite National Park

 

Yosemite National Park spans the central eastern portion of California. The geology of the Yosemite area is characterized by granite and remnants of older rock. Around 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada uplifted and tilted to form its mostly gentle western slopes and the more sensational eastern slopes. The uplift increased the angle of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, precarious canyons.

About 1 million years ago, snow and ice formed, creating glaciers at the higher meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet during the early glacial period. The downslope movement of ice masses cut and molded the famous U-shaped valley that attracts millions of tourists in the current day. 

Yosemite is internationally renowned for its spectacular cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves and biological diversity. Almost all of the park, 95 percent, is designated wilderness.

Though Yellowstone was established first, Yosemite was central to the development of the idea of a national park. First, Galen Clark, the first European American to discover Meriposa Grove, and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from destructive development, thus leading to President Abraham Lincoln's signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. Later, John Muir, one of history's most famous naturalists, led a movement to establish a larger national park encompassing not just the valley, but surrounding mountains and forests as well. This paved the way for the United States national park system.