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article imageYosemite National Park celebrates its 150th anniversary

By Karen Graham     Jul 3, 2014 in Environment
June 30, 2014 marked the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant Act by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. The signing of this act was the first time that park land was set aside by the federal government for preservation and public use.
Yosemite National Park in California spans 747,956 acres, taking in the eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties. The park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, and its spectacular cliffs and waterfalls, along with the Giant Sequoia groves and crystal clear streams make it an internationally recognized global treasure.
Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite each year, reveling in the extraordinary biodiversity to be seen. Over 95 percent of the park is a designated wilderness area, so most visitors spend their time in Yosemite Valley, a seven square mile area with various amenities for peoples enjoyment.
A Brief History of Yosemite National Park
The signing of the Yosemite Grant in 1864 paved the way for the National Park system we have today. Yosemite did not make National Park status until October 1, 1890, and only because of the efforts of naturalist John Muir. Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson, the editor of Century Magazine, lobbied Congress for an act that would put Yosemite under federal jurisdiction after observing the destruction of Yosemite's giant Sequoias from logging and the overgrazing of the park's meadows by grazing sheep.
Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir on Glacier Point  Yosemite Valley  California  in 1903.
United Sta...
Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir on Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley, California, in 1903. United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3g04698
Underwood & Underwood
Congress passed the act and Yosemite became a National Park on October 1, 1890. But the state of California retained ownership of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove. John Muir and his Sierra Club continued to fight to have Yosemite become an all-inclusive National Park, and in May, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt, after spending several days in the park, and talking with John Muir, went back to Washington and began his campaign to take the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove away from the state. In 1906, Roosevelt signed a bill that did exactly that. Yosemite joined the newly formed National Park Service in 1916.
There are a number of attractions that anyone visiting the park really must see. With a landscape that took almost 10 million years to sculpt, nature has left us with nothing less than a scenic wonder, everywhere one looks. From high solid granite peaks to deep valleys, one is never without a wonder to feast their eyes on. And those visitors who like to hike, there are 800 miles of trails, but to make it easy, they can use the popular John Muir trail, or the Mist Trail. Let's look at a few of this writer's favorite attractions to visit.
Glacier Point and Half-Dome
Glacier Point offers visitors a spectacular view of the Yosemite Valley, as well as Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and Clouds Rest. To get to this viewpoint takes a tour bus ride of almost four hours. In the winter, Glacier Point is inaccessible due to the snow and ice, but in the springtime, dozens of small waterfalls spring from the rocky face, the largest being the Staircase Falls.
The view from Glacier Point  left to right: Tenaya Canyon  Half Dome  Liberty Cap  Little Yosemite V...
The view from Glacier Point, left to right: Tenaya Canyon, Half Dome, Liberty Cap, Little Yosemite Valley, Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall.
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
The giants of the forest: Sequoia Groves
Yosemite National Park is home to three groves of giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) trees. These Sequoias are the last living species of the genus Sequoiadendron, and one of three species of conifers often called redwoods. The park's three groves. the Mariposa Grove, Toulemme and Merced Groves survived early logging attempts, and now have federal protection. These trees are naturally only found on the western slopes of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains in California, although trees and groves can now be seen in Germany and Hampshire, England.
Giant Sequoia in Merced Grove  Yosemite National Park.
Giant Sequoia in Merced Grove, Yosemite National Park.
Mike Barlow, USA
El Capitan- The Chief
El Capitan is a solid granite monolith rising 3,000 feet out of the western valley floor. One of the most photographed sites in the park, it is also a favorite with climbers, and for awhile, base-jumpers. El Capitan is a loose Spanish translation from the Native American name for the rock, meaning "the chief," or the "rock chief." As with other formations in Yosemite, El Capitan was formed by glacial movement. Thought to be "unclimbable" for many years, it is now considered the ultimate experience for climbers.
El Capitan from Northside Drive
El Capitan from Northside Drive
Little Mountain 5
There is something for everyone in the family when visiting this beautiful National Park. From doing nothing more than taking in the sights using the ever-popular shuttle buses, to
hiking the graded trails, no one will be disappointed. For the more adventuresome, there is rock-wall climbing, or just staying close-by the well appointed campgrounds. This year, all the way through December 31, 2014, events taking place at Yosemite are going to make for one big celebration of the 150th anniversary of the mother of all National Parks.
More about yosemite national park, Civil War, paved the way, Mariposa grove, California
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