Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the USA. It extends over 3,082 km² along the California Sierra Nevada in a granite relief landscape formed by the Ice Age. The park’s attraction is the impressive Yosemite Valley, a 914 m deep, narrow glacier valley with waterfalls and giant sequoias.
Yosemite National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Yosemite National Park|
|Natural monument:||National park with 3082.83 km², heights from 671 m to 3998 m; “Dominated” by the Sierra Nevada with rock domes and the 914 m deep Yosemite Valley, canyons such as the Tenaya Canyon and 300 lakes|
|Continent:||North America; See topschoolsoflaw|
|Location:||Heart of the Sierra Nevada in central California|
|Story:||Established as a nature reserve October 1, 1890, extensions in 1929, 1930-32, 1937-38 and 1983|
|Meaning:||a granite relief landscape formed by the Ice Age with “hanging valleys”, moraines, U-shaped valleys and numerous waterfalls|
|Flora and fauna:||27 different types of vegetation and 16 types of forest with 37 tree species such as California pine, Colorado fir, sugar pine and yellow pine; three areas with an extensive population of sequoia trees, including the so-called »Grizzly Giant«, predominant in the subalpine zone Rotary Pine and Berghemlock, the rich flora of the park comprises a total of 1400 plant species;
74 species of mammals such as chipmunks, yellow-bellied marmots, black bears, coyotes, bighorn sheep, rarely seen spruce and fishing marten; 230 species of birds such as the great gray owl nesting in the park
Dream in granite
The “Incomparable Valley”, the “Incomparable Valley”! Every USA traveler thinks of the Yosemite Valley when they mention Yosemite National Park. John Muir – explorer, scientist, poet and passionate advocate of nature – succumbed to his magic. When he first came here in 1868, he came across a natural wonder carved out by mighty Ice Age glaciers: vertically rising granite walls frame a lovely valley through which a small river flows. Mule deer graze on the lush meadows, and waterfalls tumble from the hanging valleys that flow into the sides. From then on, John Muir worked tirelessly for “his valley” – and his efforts were successful with the establishment of the national park. This “dream in granite” enchants every visitor to this day. Many painters and photographers also fell in love with the Yosemite Valley. Some of them achieved world fame, such as Ansel Adams and Albert Bierstadt. Today you can admire their works of art in the Fine Arts Gallery, which was built in the valley.
A whole city is now spreading around the art gallery. Hotels and campsites, grocery and photo shops, large parking lots, a gas station – everything is there. The reason: over four million visitors throng the Yosemite Valley every year and don’t want to miss out on the cherished comforts of their lives on their excursion into nature. This is the other side of the coin, the valley is just too famous. Tourism is now becoming a problem, cars are turning into a sheet metal avalanche, and access restrictions are already part of everyday life. However, nobody needs to miss the natural spectacle of Yosemite. Appropriate planning helps: Those who avoid long weekends and the summer months avoid the rush.
The waterfalls are most beautiful when the snow melts in early summer. Then the 740-meter-high, three-tiered Yosemite Falls thunder down into the valley and atomize in a cauldron of spray – just as breathtakingly beautiful as in John Muir’s time.
In early summer you can also enjoy the fantastic granite landscape outside the Yosemite Valley. Here the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada show themselves in all their beauty. “Mountain range of light” is what John Muir enthusiastically called this 600 kilometer long mountain range in eastern California.
If you are out and about in the national park, your eyes will not only fall on the imposing granite formations, but also on dreamy, crystal-clear lakes and lush green mountain meadows, which are adorned with the red flowers of the lice weed and the flowers of the gods during the short vegetation period. Standing tall, the yellow-bellied marmot takes in the scent, and guinea-pig-sized whistles disappear into their underground structures in a flash when a two-legged stranger approaches. The bighorn rams fighting with each other can be heard from afar. Every now and then a black bear even crosses the path. The yellow spruce chipmunk is busy looking for something to eat, while acorn woodpeckers are busy working in their nesting hole. The peregrine falcon circles the steep cliffs. The gray-feathered pine jay, on the other hand, feeds extensively on the tasty seeds of the conifers. After a successful nocturnal hunt, some pairs of Virginia Uhups provide their young with mice.
But Yosemite National Park has even more fascinating things to offer: some groves of primeval sequoia trees. These colossi, which only occur in the Sierra Nevada, are among the most powerful creatures on earth. They don’t get quite as tall as their relatives, the coastal sequoia, but they get bigger, older and heavier. The oldest in Yosemite, a tree giant called “Grizzly Giant”, is 2,700 years old. With an estimated weight of a thousand tons and a circumference of 28 meters, it is also the most imposing of the 500 or so sequoia trees in the “Mariposa Grove” in the south of the national park.