How well do you know Yosemite National Park?

How well do you know Yosemite National Park?

Courtesy U.S. Department of Interior

Waterfalls, towering granite monoliths, deep valleys and ancient giant sequoias – that’s Yosemite. On October 1, 1890, Yosemite became a national park, and more than 125 years later, it’s still wowing visitors. Here are a few facts you might not know.

1. Yosemite is the nation’s third national park, but it sparked the idea of national parks. Twenty-six years before it was a national park, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant on June 30, 1864, protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley – the first instance of the government protecting land because of its natural beauty so that people could enjoy it. Thanks to John Muir’s passionate writing to further protect the delicate ecosystem of the High Sierra, Yosemite later became a national park.

2. Yosemite’s granite rock formations glow like fire at sunset. Sunlight plays amazing tricks at Yosemite – illuminating El Capitan and Half Dome in brilliant reds and oranges. Horsetail Fall is famous for appearing to be on fire when reflecting sunset in mid- to late-February. It’s a spectacular sight reminiscent of Yosemite’s historic Firefall, which occurred nightly until 1968, when hotel operators would push campfire embers over Glacier Point to wow park goers.

3. Yosemite’s diverse landscape supports more than 400 species. Look all around and you might spy one of the park’s many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals looking back. One such animal is the rare Sierra Nevada red fox, which was spotted for the first time in nearly 100 years on a wildlife cam, roaming the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

4. At 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest on the planet, but did you know, it’s actually made up of three separate falls? Upper Yosemite Fall, the middle cascades and Lower Yosemite Fall makeup Yosemite Falls, which can be seen from numerous places around Yosemite Valley.

5. Three-quarters of park visitors come in just six months. Although the park is open all year, nearly 75 percent of visitors come May through October. Most of them never leave the six square miles that is Yosemite Valley. Want quiet? Think coming in winter or exploring some of the 1,100 square miles of the Yosemite Wilderness.

6. Yosemite is the only national park to bid to host the winter Olympics. In the early days of Yosemite, visitors flocked to the park as a summer resort but most stayed away during winter. But in the 1920s a new highway was completed and the park’s concessioner Don Tresidder sought to make Yosemite the “Switzerland of the West.” Toboggan runs, a large ice-skating rink, and a small ski jump were built. Nearby meadows and roads became the canvas for dog sled rides, sledding and skijoring (skiing behind a horse with a tow rope). Lake Placid actually won the bid for the 1932 winter Olympics, but winter sports at Yosemite still live on today.

LiAnna Davis wikimedia commons

7. Yosemite is a climber’s playground. Since the 1880s, climbers have been drawn to Yosemite and its soaring rock formations. That’s because it offers climbers an endless variety of challenges. Pivotal moments in Yosemite climbing history include John Muir’s summit of Cathedral Peak and Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson becoming the first to free climb the Dawn Wall in 2015.

8. Yosemite is one of the few places in the U.S. where you can see a rainbow at night. Yosemite is world famous for its waterfalls and the rainbows that can appear in them. Few know about the park’s lunar rainbows or moonbows. In spring and early summer if the sky is clear and the moon is full, it can produce enough light to create a rainbow from a waterfall’s mist. It’s pure magic.

9. Yosemite’s creeks can be rushing slushies. This dramatic natural event – called frazil ice – occurs most commonly in spring with high water flow over the falls and overnight temperatures below freezing. The mist from the falls freezes, and it flows down the creek like a giant slurpee, surging into a snowy mass with icy water underneath.

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2 thoughts on “How well do you know Yosemite National Park?

  1. Billy Bob Thorton

    If you havn’t visited Yosmite, you need to put it on your bucket list.

    1. Buzzelectric

      I agree with Mr Thornton. It is a place that everyone, if they can, should visit at least once. It is magical year round. Photos are great, but to be there is o-wow.

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