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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park (pron. yo-sem-mi-tee) is a national park largely in Mariposa County, and Tuolumne County, California, United States. The park covers an area of approximately 3,079 square kilometers and stretches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over 3 million people visit Yosemite each year. The park is about 3.5 hours driving east of San Francisco.

Landscape and Ecology

Notable park features include numerous waterfalls along the glacially formed Yosemite Valley of the Merced River[?] and the majestic Half Dome and many steep cliffs for rock climbing. These cliffs are more than 3000 feet in height.

Most park visitors fail to realize the scale of the cliffs in Yosemite Valley because they just look like normal rocks from a distance. Many people would be awed by the sheer size of those rocks if they were able to spot some ant-like rock climbers hanging on the cliffs. Another way to get a sense of the scale of the cliffs was to look for full size trees on the top of the cliffs which appear like hairs on the rocks.

The park covers large areas of wilderness. However, the majority of tourists stay within or around the Yosemite Valley which is only a tiny fraction of the national park.

To the north of Yosemite Valley is Hetch Hetchy Valley[?], which was considered by many, including John Muir, to be nearly identical in beauty and significance to Yosemite Valley. The valley was flooded in 1923 by the O'Shaughnessy Dam[?] blocking the Tuolumne River[?] to form the Hetch Hetchy reservior. The dam supplies water and cash (from electricity sales) to the San Francisco area. Congress authorized the O'Shaughnessy Dam in 1913. Passage of the law is said to have led to John Muir's death (from despair).

The high country of Yosemite contains beautiful areas, such as Tuolumne Meadows, the Clark Range[?], the Cathedral Range[?], and the Kuna Crest[?]. The Sierra crest runs through Yosemite, with peaks of red metamorphic rock, such as Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs[?], and granite peaks, such as Mount McConness[?].

It has groves of ancient sequoia trees and also hosts mule deer[?] and black bears. The black bears of Yosemite are famous for breaking into parked cars to steal food.

Yosemite is surrounded by wilderness areas: the Ansel Adams Wilderness to the southeast, the Hoover Wilderness[?] to the northeast, and the Emigrant Wilderness[?] to the north.


An Act of Congress signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 set aside Yosemite Valley and ceded control of it to the State of California. It became a national park in 1890 and came under the jurisdiction of U.S. Park Service when that agency was created in 1916.

In the late 1990s, there was a high profile murder case in the park and some serious rock slides into the tourist base camp area. Tourism dropped a little after those scary incidents.

Photographer Ansel Adams was famous for his pictures of Yosemite.

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