Yosemite National Park is one of eight National Parks in California and has a rich history that helped to make it what it is today. A Native American tribe from the valley was called Yosemite, which means “those who kill.” The Yosemite tribe were known as killers to the other tribes who were scared. Settlers first came to the Yosemite Valley during the gold rush in the 1800’s. In 1889, America’s well-known naturalist, John Muir, helped influence the government to set aside reserved lands. The National Park Service started to take care of Yosemite National Park in 1916.
With about 1200 square miles of wilderness in Californian Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts. Backpackers, hikers, rock climbers, runners, bicyclists, and equestrians can all find their spot in Yosemite which is why many add this National Park to their favorite’s list. It may be impossible to experience it all in one trip because there is an abundance of various outdoor activities to spend as much time enjoying nature as your vacation will allow. July and August are the best months for hiking because most of the snow will be gone and the roads will be open for access to more of the park. If you want to visit with fewer crowds, then plan on spending time at Yosemite National Park in September and October. This will also give you a chance to witness beautiful fall foliage in the valley.
Millions of years ago when the movement of glacial ice carved out valleys, the strongest of the granite survived. El Capitan is one of the largest exposed blocks of granite found in the world rising about 7,500 feet above sea level.
The mammoth size of El Capitan is extraordinary and pulls rock climbers to it from all around the world where visitors can see how it dwarfs everything in the surrounding area.
Average rock climbers can take about seven to ten days just to ascend El Capitan. Where veterans or faster climbers can reach the summit within twenty-four hours. Yosemite Mountaineering School also makes it possible for beginners to learn how to climb to enjoy one of the best features in Yosemite National Park.
Half Dome is commonly suggested to be the most spectacular rock formation on the planet. Geologist believes that its unique shape was due to half of it being eroded away. Some others believe that it is possible that there wasn’t even another half.
Being 5,000 feet above the valley bottom and over 8,000 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a one-of-a-kind found in Yosemite National Park if not all of North America at 93% grade. This challenging hike was thought to be inaccessible until George Anderson reached the summit in 1875. His diligent hike made it possible for today’s hikers to follow a similar path up this iconic landmark.
Mariposa Grove can be found near the south entrance into Yosemite. It is where you will find the infamous giant Sequoias. These tall beauties are examples of why Yosemite is viewed to be mother natures’ masterpiece. The gigantic Sequoias actually make all the surrounding trees look tiny in comparison. The largest tree that can be found in Mariposa Grove, the Grizzly Giant, is about 1,600 to 2,000 years old and just one of its branches is said to be larger than any other type of tree in the grove.
There are only two and a half miles of trails that separate the Upper Grove from the Lower Grove and is where many enjoy the knowledge given from Mariposa Grove Museum. For those who rather take escorted tours, Big Trees Tour has a narrated shuttle that runs about every twenty minutes from June to October. The tours are closed in winter. However, winter lovers actually can still walk amongst the giants on their snowshoes or skis to experience something close to being out of this world.
Cook’s Meadow and Swinging Bridge
Yosemite National Park has many great places to view the waterfalls. Cook’s Meadow and Swinging Bridge gives visitors a chance to see Yosemite Falls in different ways. Cook’s Meadow show both the Upper and Lower Falls while Swinging Bridge will showcase Yosemite Falls with Merced River.
Glacier Point provides spectacular views of the Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and three waterfalls. It is the best spot to watch the sunset being that it is about 3,000 feet above the valley.
El Capitan Meadow is the perfect spot to view El Capitan from below. It is the best place to pull out the binoculars and cameras to take a glimpse at the gigantic granite spectacle.
These spots are the best in order to see many visitors’ favorite waterfalls, Yosemite Falls. Hikers take advantage of the easy trek through Sentinel Meadow. Others visit the oldest structure in Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Chapel, which also happens to be on the National Register of Historic places since 1973.
Tunnel View is the famous historic scenic over-watch with a gorgeous panoramic view of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Falls.
Yosemite became a part of the National Park System in 1890. Today, there are many famous features that draw visitors annually. In the springtime, the melting snow sends epic downpour of water over cliffs from extreme heights. This is why Yosemite National Park is well known for some of the highest waterfalls that can be found in America. The large concentration of waterfalls in the park is what inspires visitors to return for more. The best time to visit Yosemite to view the falls is when the snow is melting and runoff is occurring in May and June.
Visitors entering Yosemite National Park from the south will encounter Bridalveil Fall as their first waterfall. It is not the tallest waterfall in Yosemite, yet it is still ranked one of the highest in America at 620 feet. It is easily seen from the Tunnel View so it is no surprise that is the most photographed waterfall in Yosemite National Park.
On the eastern side of El Capitan, visitors can easily see Horsetail Fall. There are about a 1,000 feet to see the famous orange glow that happens because of the sunset. It makes the fall appear as if it is actually on fire.
People can only get glimpses of Illilouette Fall through the trees while hiking on trails. The location for the fall makes it the least viewed due to not having any roads that can show it. Advanced hikers can trek through Panorama Trail down to Panorama cliff to see where the fall meets Merced River. Considered to be the best full day hike in Yosemite.
Reaching at 594 feet, Nevada Fall is a rare treat due to the fact that it takes a half-day trek with about 1,900 feet elevation gain. Many visitors stick to the easier falls to see. However, accomplishing the hike will reward you with exquisite beauty without a busy crowd. It is just a few miles away from Vernal Falls using the Mist Trail.
West of El Capitan, Ribbon Fall is 1,612 feet high and is considered to be the highest single-drop fall in America. A small stream creates this thin fall and usually is the first to dry up for the year in Yosemite.
One of two falls on Mist Trail, trekking three miles on the trail takes you right past Vernal Falls. You can actually experience sprays from the waterfall that will add to the unforgettable event. Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall, seen from Glacier Point Road, come together to form what is known as the “Grand Staircase.”
Yosemite Falls is actually the highest waterfall found in North America. There are two parts to this wonderful fall; the Upper Fall, which drops 1,430 feet, and the Lower Falls, dropping a 320 more feet. Middle Cascade is a chain of rapids that separates the two parts and also drops 675 feet itself.
The best part about visiting Yosemite National Park is that people can see wildlife roaming all around the park. Yosemite has over 400 species of animals that include species such as fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds. The park has an abundance of animal habitats like the coniferous forests that houses animals like the bobcat or gray fox. Yosemite Valley is home to black bear and other animals that feed off of the grass. The diversity of animal life in Yosemite is why there are about 40 different species that are protected by California’s endangered species law due to threats that affect their ecosystem. Examples of animals that are found on this list are the grizzly bear, yellow-legged frog, and red-legged frog.