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Yosemite Valley from Wawona Tunnel view, vista point.

Yosemite Valley, the most popular part of Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in the central eastern portion of the U.S. state of California, commonly referred to as Northern California. The park, which is managed by the National Park Service, covers an area of 747,956 acres and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite each year: most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, 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 United States National Park system.

Half Dome from Glacier Point, Yosemite NP - Diliff

Half Dome, one of the park's most popular and iconic attractions.

Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet and contains five major vegetation zones: chaparral/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 or documentation 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 1 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 downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today.

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Jaren Garff in Yosemite National Park, "Yosemite 2014".

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.
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Travis Neal, Jaren Garff, and John Wright on Clouds Rest, "Yosemite 2014".

In "Yosemite 2014", some of the Young Men go to Yosemite to hike to Clouds Rest. They park at the trailhead near Tenaya Lake and hike across streams, over granite boulders, and through pine forests up to Clouds Rest. At the top, they take a break, eat some snacks, and take in the view of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley. The whole hike totals to 14.5 miles roundtrip.

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