Yosemite became the first wildland in the nation protected for all-time 150 years ago when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, protecting the Valley and Mariposa grove. Later, in 1890, it became a national park. Over the last 150 years the park has played host to a number of dignitaries and celebrities – as well as about 4 million regular visitors a year.
“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be-still kind. Your animal fellow beings, so seldom regarded in civilization, and every rock-brow and mountain, stream, and lake, and every plant soon come to be regarded as brothers; even one learns to like the storms and clouds and tireless winds. This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment. It is good for everybody, no matter how benumbed with care, encrusted with a mail of business habits like a tree with bark. None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.“
– John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938) page 350. Find more of his quotes, from The Sierra Club.
“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods…and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred. It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.”
– President Theodore Roosevelt, 1905
Over eons, rivers and glaciers somehow carved 3,000 feet into solid granite to create Yosemite Valley. The nuances of the Valley form spectacular rock formations, for which Yosemite Valley is famous.
“It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.”
“A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy.”
“I went to Yosemite as an homage to Ansel Adams. I could never be Ansel Adams, but to know that’s there for us – there’s so much for us in this country.”
– Annie Leibovitz
Prominent as you enter Yosemite Valley, it’s hard not to notice the beauty of Bridalveil Fall. The native people of Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahneechee Indians, called the fall “Pohono” meaning “spirit of the puffing wind.” Early Yosemite pioneers named it Bridalveil Fall because of the flow’s resemblance to a bride’s veil swaying in the wind.
The Gates of Yosemite scene where this fall stands opposite the mouth of Yosemite Valley to El Capitan is often what comes to mind when I think about Yosemite National Park. Ever since the landscape photographer Ansel Adams captured and immortalized the “Gates of Yosemite,” it was probably instrumental in making Bridalveil Fall one of the most photographed waterfalls in the park.
El Capitan is a favorite for experienced rock climbers. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is the largest monolith of granite in the world. El Capitan is opposite Bridalveil Fall.
Along with Half Dome, Yosemite Falls is the iconic symbol of the grandeur and beauty of Yosemite National Park. I think the falls are practically synonymous with the incomparable Yosemite Valley.Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in North America, with a total drop of 2,425 feet.
“When I think of the overwhelming majesty of Yosemite National Park, I cannot help but agree with Carl Sharsmith, a longtime Yosemite ranger. When a park visitor asked what Carl would do if he only had one day in Yosemite, Carl replied, “I’d go sit by the Merced River and cry!” And he was right: There may never be enough time to see all the grandeur of the Yosemite, in all its wonder. But however much time you have to spend, Yosemite National Park is worth the trip. It does not matter what season. Every experience—taking a sunrise walk with a ranger, strolling through the rain on a chilly fall afternoon, picnicking along the Merced in the summer, being surprised by the mist coming off Bridalveil Fall, noticing deer or coyote across a field, or marvelling at wildflowers as they come to life after a spring shower—adds to the tapestry that is Yosemite. Each experience is its own unique treasure.”
-From the Blog: “Learn More Everyday”
Half Dome is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Yosemite. Rising nearly 5,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is one of the most sought-after landmarks in Yosemite.
Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers. Despite an 1865 report declaring that it was “perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of the prominent points about the Yosemite which never has been, and never will be, trodden by human foot,” George Anderson reached the summit in 1875, in the process laying the predecessor to today’s cable route.
“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
-Ansel Adams – Photographer
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
~ John Muir
“The making of gardens and parks goes on with civilization all over the world, and they increase both in size and number as their value is recognized. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little windowsill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National Parks—the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc.—Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world. Nevertheless, like anything else worth while, from the very beginning, however well guarded, they have always been subject to attack by despoiling gain-seekers and mischief-makers of every degree from Satan to Senators, eagerly trying to make everything immediately and selfishly commercial, with schemes disguised in smug-smiling philanthropy, industriously, sham-piously crying, ‘Conservation, conservation,’ that man and beast may be fed and the dear Nation made great. Ever since the establishment of the Yosemite National Park, strife has been going on around its borders and I suppose this will go on as part of the universal battle between right and wrong, however much of its boundaries may be shorn, or its wild beauty destroyed.”
― John Muir, The Yosemite