By: Joshua A. Rushakoff
Yosemite is a beautiful national park. This report contains facts about Yosemite’s history, landmarks, nature and wilderness, and the many activities that lure visitors to Yosemite.
Yosemite has a fascinating history. It includes presidents, naturalists, Indians, wars, soldiers and tourists. Only 42 people visited the park in 1855 but six years ago (1995) 4,101,928 people visited Yosemite. It is now the third most visited National Park in the United States of America.
The first people to live in Yosemite were a small tribe of Miwoks called the Awanichi. They lived there until the first white men, who were soldiers, came to Yosemite. When the soldiers came to the area, the Indians did not want to lose their land. They started the Mariposa Indian War. It was a short fight because the Indians did not have a strong defense. The war ended with the Awanichi tribe leaving their land and white men taking control of the area.
John Muir was a very important man in Yosemite’s history. John Muir made his very first trip to Yosemite in 1864. In 1868 Yosemite was made the first state park of California. In 1869 John Muir started living in Yosemite. He studied and got to know the park really well. He then wrote a newspaper article on Yosemite. John Muir was the founder of the Sierra Club and he said, “Do something for wilderness and make the mountain glad!” When Abe Lincoln was president, he preserved the land that Yosemite covers for the people of the United States. On October 1, 1890, 1,512 square feet of this land was granted by Theodore Roosevelt to become Yosemite National Park. If it weren’t for John Muir, Yosemite would never have become a national park.
Remarkable granite structures are a major part of Yosemite. Ten million years ago, Yosemite was a big flat piece of land with a calm river flowing through it. An earthquake changed the form of the land and the river started to move faster. The water cut the canyon into a V-shape. Then, three million years ago the Ice Age started. There was snow and ice packed together many feet wide and deep. The ice scraped the canyon’s walls and floor. It became a U-shaped canyon with cliffs on each side. The Ice Age ended and a lake was formed. This is how the valley of Yosemite was created. The granite structures make Yosemite a unique National Park.
Yosemite is known for its waterfalls. Yosemite Falls is an incredible waterfall. It is one of the top ten free falling waterfalls in the world. If a person standing at the base of the waterfall looked up 2,425 feet he would see the top of Yosemite Falls. There are three parts to Yosemite Falls. The first part is Upper Fall, the second is the Middle Cascade, and the lowest is the Lower Fall. Five of the tallest waterfalls in the world are in Yosemite. They are Yosemite Falls, Sentinel Falls, Snow Creek Falls, Ribbon Falls and Wapama Falls. Bridelveil Falls, pictured above, reminds people of the veil women wear when they get married. Yosemite’s waterfalls are key ingredients of every trip to Yosemite.
Half Dome is an enormous granite formation. It is called Half Dome because it is half of a dome. It stands 4,737 feet high over the valley floor. It takes three days to mountain climb up the face of Half Dome. At the end of a climbing day, these brave climbers hang in a hammock all night. They resume the next morning and repeat this process for three days. Another way of hiking Half Dome is a 16.4-mile long hike that takes all day. Hundreds of people do this hike every year. Nothing can be compared to Half Dome’s grueling climbs.
Giant Sequoia Trees have been in Yosemite for over 2,500 years. They live this long because they have very thick bark. Thick bark prevents trees from burning down in forest fires. There are three groves of Sequoias in Yosemite Valley: the Merced Grove, the Tuolumne Grove and the Mariposa Grove. The biggest Sequoia of all is called Grizzly Giant. There are many other kinds of trees in Yosemite. A few of the most plentiful trees are the Giant Sequoia, the Sugar Pine and the Douglas fir. A tourist in Yosemite cannot take a step without seeing one of these wonders of nature.
The trees are fed by the many streams and rivers in Yosemite. The streams and rivers cover 490 miles of Yosemite. The water filling the streams and rivers comes from the winter snows and the waterfalls. The main rivers are the Tuolumne and the Merced rivers.
The streams and rivers provide homes to many species of fish. There are five different kinds of trout in Yosemite. None are native to the waters of Yosemite. None of the other species of fish in Yosemite are native. Fish hatcheries have been built to get fish to the bodies of water in Yosemite.
There are many birds and animals in Yosemite. The most commonly seen bird is the Clark’s Nutcracker. Over 29 other species of birds live in Yosemite. The black bear, mule deer, and squirrels are frequently spotted all over Yosemite. The animals and birds of Yosemite can’t be missed.
There are many activities in Yosemite. There are hundreds of hikes in the park, including those up Half Dome mentioned on previous pages. Another activity is go to Glacier point, which has one of the most beautiful views in the park. Another alternative is to go backpacking into the heart of the Yosemite forests. Some tourists choose to go rock climbing. Horse back riding is another option. Cross-country skiing at Badger Pass, where it snows six to 12 feet a year, is a favorite winter activity. In the summer, visitors take art classes to learn to paint the beautiful nature of Yosemite. There are many more things that tourists do year round including rafting and biking. Yosemite is year round fun!
After reading this report it becomes clear why people come back to Yosemite year after year. Visitors return to Yosemite because of its history, the staggering beauty of its landmarks, the scenic landscape and everything else Yosemite has to offer.
Hall, Ansel F. Handbook Of Yosemite National Park. New York and London: G.P.Putnam’s Sons. 1921.
McClatchy Newspapers. Yosemite Park Centennial 1890-1990: A History http://www.modbee.com/yosemite/
Medley, Steven P. The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite National Park: Yosemite Association. 1997.
National Park Service. “Yosemite National Park.” http://www.nps.gov/yose/
Radlauer, Ruth. Yosemite National Park. Chicago: Childrens Press. 1984.
Schaffer, Jeffrey P. Yosemite national park A Natural-History Guide to Yosemite and Its Trails. Berkeley, CA.: Wilderness Press. 1992.