The park covers an area of 747,956 acres (1,168.681 sq mi). Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.
Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. First, Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President Abraham Lincoln‘s signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. Later, John Muir led a successful movement to establish a larger national park encompassing not just the valley, but surrounding mountains and forests as well—paving the way for the U.S. National Park system.
The park has an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet and contains five major vegetation zones: chaparral and oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone, and alpine. Of California’s 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% within Yosemite. There is suitable habitat for more than 160 rare plants in the park, with rare local geologic formations and unique soils characterizing the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy.
The geology of the Yosemite area 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 canyons. About one million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet during the early glacial episode.
The name “Yosemite” (meaning “killer” in Miwok) originally referred to the name of a renegade tribe which was driven out of the area (and possibly annihilated) by the Mariposa Battalion. Before then the area was called “Ahwahnee” (“big mouth”) by indigenous people.
Cathedral Peak is part of the Cathedral Range, a mountain range in the south-central portion of Yosemite National Park in eastern Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties. The range is an offshoot of the Sierra Nevada. The peak. formed by glacial activity, remained uneroded above the glaciers in the Pleistocene.
EL CAPITAN MEADOW
Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. It is a rock formation in the park, named for its distinct shape. One side is a sheer face while the other three sides are smooth and round, making it appear like a dome cut in half. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft above the valley floor.
Lembert Dome is a granite dome rock formation in Yosemite National Park in the US state of California. The dome soars 800 feet above Tuolumne Meadows and the Tuolumne River and can be hiked starting at the Tioga Road in the heart of Tuolumne Meadows. The landform is an example of a rôche moutonnée with clear lee and stoss slopes.
Lembert Dome was named for Jean Baptiste Lembert, sometimes mistakenly referred to as John Lambert, who took up a homestead in a section of Tuolumne Meadows in 1865. By 1879 the Wheeler Survey referred to it as Soda Springs Dome. John Muir called it Glacier Rock.
Rock climbers can scale the face from the parking lot just off the Tioga Road, but hikers can simply walk up the back side or take the challenging steeper trek up the face starting from just east of the parking lot.
Swinging Bridge is a popular destination in Yosemite Valley, California, United States, for swimming, with an excellent view of Yosemite Falls. The land in the area resembles that of a beach. Although official policy does not allow visitors to jump off the bridge, this is sometimes disregarded. The area on both sides of the bridge has mostly shallow water.
Tioga Pass (el. 9,943 ft.) is a mountain pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. State Route 120 runs through it, and serves as the eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park, at the Tioga Pass Entrance Station. It is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. Mount Dana is to the east of the pass. There are several trailheads into the Yosemite backcountry which begin at Tioga Pass, including the trail to the Gaylor Lakes to the west/northwest, and the rough trail to the summit of Mount Dana. Dana Meadows is immediately south of the pass alongside the highway, as the pass itself is roughly angled north/south as opposed to east/west. Dana Meadows contains several small lakes. This pass, like many other passes in the Sierra Nevada, has a gradual approach from the west and drops off to the east dramatically, losing more than 3,000 ft by the time the road reaches U.S. Route 395.
Tuolumne Meadows is a large, open subalpine meadow graced by the winding Tuolumne River and surrounded by majestic peaks and domes. The Tioga Road offers a 47-mile scenic drive between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass through forests and past meadows, lakes, and granite domes. Many turnouts offer broad and beautiful vistas. The Tioga Road is open approximately late May or June through October or November.
The Yosemite Museum was completed in 1925, designed by architect Herbert Maier in the newly emerging National Park Service Rustic Style. Though few realize it, the Yosemite Museum was the first building constructed as a museum in the national park system, and its educational initiatives served as a model for parks nationwide. The partnership created to fund the museum is also significant. The Yosemite Museum Association was formed to handle the funds for building construction in 1923. This association was the first non-profit cooperating association for the National Park Service, serving as a model for the associations that now exist for parks nationwide.
YOSEMITE VISITOR CENTER