Yosemite National Park

Fact Box

Yosemite National Park
Established 1890
761,268 acres
Visitation (2010) 3,563,293

Half Dome is arguably the most iconic feature in Yosemite National Park. The 5,000 foot granite peak rises above the Valley floor in one dramatic sweep of sheer rock and the climb to the top is a goal for many people from all walks of life, from beginning climbers whose first wilderness experience is on Half Dome to the most experienced climbers in the world. The climb has been popular since 1919 when the Sierra Club developed a cable system that allows visitors without technical rock climbing ability to reach the summit and has only increased in popularity since. In 1984 Congress designated Half Dome as Wilderness, meaning that there is an expectation to maintain certain levels of "solitude" and "natural conditions."

Hetch Hetchy is an often overlooked portion of Yosemite. Perhaps that is due the interesting combination of features: wilderness with spectacular views, great trails, and waterfalls. Once considered a twin to Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy is regarded both as beautiful and controversial. After the erection of O'Shaughnessy Dam in 1923, Hetch Hetchy valley has since been submerged under water. The dam provides drinking water and hydroelectric power to the City of San Francisco.

Despite this, visitors should make the trip to Hetch Hetchy, which offers several hikes for people of all abilities. The shortest hike is to Wapama Falls, which comes highly recommended by a former NPCA employee, Laura Whitehouse. "The hike to Wapama Falls is fun, especially in the early spring after a wet winter," Whitehouse said. "You will experience a very invigorating shower from the mist of the falls." Hetch Hetchy's low elevation offers the longest hiking season in the park. In addition to hiking, Hetch Hetchy offers fishing, camping and swimming at nearby Lake Eleanor. 

Glacier Point is one of the most spectacular views of the park. You can sit in the amphitheater and eat your lunch while admiring spectacular views of waterfalls and granite peaks. Be sure to bring binoculars: birders will enjoy the avian views while “looky-loos” will stare in awe at the brave rock climbers clinging to Half Dome.

Tuolumne Meadows offers a different view of Yosemite. Located in the heart of Yosemite's high country, Tuolumne Meadows is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. Its spectacular domes and peaks attract rock climbers from around the world. Tuolumne also offers several day hikes for various abilities at much cooler temperatures than Yosemite Valley.


  • http://www.npca.org/parks/yosemite-national-park.html