On June 30, 1864, in an act signed by President Abraham Lincoln, the United States granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California to ‘be held for public use, resort, and recreation . . . inalienable for all time.’ This, the first federal authorization to preserve scenic and scientific values for public benefit, was the basis for the later concept of state and national park systems. In 1906 the State of California returned the land, considered the first state park in the country, so that it could become part of Yosemite National Park.
Plunging 620 feet (189 meters), Bridalveil Fall is often the first waterfall you’ll see when entering Yosemite Valley. In spring, it thunders; during the rest of the year, look for its characteristic light, swaying flow. A paved trail leads from the parking area to the base of this waterfall, which flows year-round. Although paved, this is trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its grade.
EL CAPITAN AND EL CAPITAN MEADOW
In Yosemite Valley, El Capitan Meadow provides a view straight up El Capitan and a great view of Cathedral Rocks, as well. Located along one-way Northside Drive, it is best to stop here on your way out of Yosemite Valley.
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. Today, thousands of people reach the summit. For most, it is an exciting, arduous hike; for a few, it becomes more of an adventure than they wanted. Indeed, park rangers assist hundreds of people on the Half Dome trail every summer. Most of these emergencies could have been prevented… read on to learn how.
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, 8 miles west of the Tioga Pass Entrance to Yosemite National Park.
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.
THE TIOGA PASS ROAD
• California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark
Tioga Pass at 9945 feet is the highest automobile pass in California. The road to the pass was constructed in two parts. The first part was a wagon road, 56 miles long, going from Crane Flat on the west side to a silver mine on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada. It was constructed in 1883 at the cost of $61,000. This part terminated a short distance east of Tioga Pass. The mine was closed the following year as it was not profitable.Construction of the second part from Lee Vining on the east side to Tioga Pass was begun in 1902 and was completed in 1910 at a cost of $63,000. Considered a monument to the skill of the state engineers, it was routed up Lee Vining Canyon and has a maximum grade of 7%. It was a narrow, exciting road with a steep drop off to Lee Vining Creek below. The original wagon road from Tioga Pass to Crane Flat, now a seldom used toll road, was purchased by the director of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather in 1915 for $15,000. He donated it to Yosemite National Park. The Tioga Pass Road was now complete and automobiles started using it in 1915. As automobile traffic on the road increased, the need for improvements also increased. Because it was an all dirt road until 1937, maintenance costs were very high. After extensive study the road within Yosemite Park was completely rebuilt in 1961 at a cost of $7,000,000. The Lee Vining grade east of Tioga Pass and outside Yosemite was rebuilt from 1965 to 1970 at a cost of $6,600,000. The Tioga Pass Road today is the most scenic mountain road in all of California and one of the most beautiful park roads in the entire National Park system. This plaque is dedicated to the engineers and workmen that created and maintain this civil engineering masterpiece. It exists today for the use, enjoyment and inspiration of all.
One of the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada, Tuolumne Meadows at 8,600 feet has been also among the most visible to past pioneers, and present visitors and scientists.
The historic Yosemite Cemetery is located across the street and just west of the Yosemite Museum. People buried here include Native Americans, casual park visitors, and people who played important roles in the development of what is now Yosemite National Park.
The Yosemite Museum, next to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, has displays that interpret the cultural history of Yosemite’s native Miwok and Paiute people from 1850 to the present. Demonstrations of basket-weaving, beadwork, and traditional games are presented. The reconstructed Indian Village of Ahwahnee behind the museum is always open.