Yosemite is one of the most well-known national parks in the United States. Located in California, it lies on a 3,080 km square area. As one of the treasures of nature, Yosemite was designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1984. Yosemite National Park is famous for it magnificent granite stones, which firmly stand on the base of the valley. In this site, we can see granites stones that include El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, The Three Brothers, Sentinel Rock and also Glacier Point. These stones become challenging domes for hikers and climbers to pass. Nevertheless, those stones are also wonderful objects of scenery for visitors.
Aside from the granite stones formation, Yosemite National Park also has wonderful waterfalls, valleys, groves, rivers, lakes, gigantic ancient trees, meadows and wildlife. Since 1890, the National Park Service has been protecting all sites at the national park. If you plan to visit this amazing place, make sure you check out some of the most amazing Yosemite facts that you don’t want to miss. Even if you have visited Yosemite National Park, you still need to know about these facts. So, without any further ado, let’s get to the list!
1. The First Protected Natural Land by The U.S Government
The first Yosemite fact that you need to know is that Yosemite is the third national park in the U.S. However, it was decided to be a Yosemite Land Grant to protect Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove first in 1864. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant to the state of California in 1864. It happened eight years earlier than the Yellowstone National Park establishment.
Even though Yosemite National Park was not the first national park, it was the first time that the U.S government decided to protect their great natural land for public creation. In 1890, Yosemite signed into law as a National Park by President Benjamin Harrison regarding John Muir’s campaign. The campaign was done to push the government into taking a yuridis action in order to declare Yosemite into a National Park. It is another effort of John Muir and other conservationists in protecting Yosemite, one of the U.S ‘amazing natural treasures.
2. John Muir Spearheads Yosemite on His writings
Moving on the to the next Yosemite fact, we will introduce you to John Muir. He is well-known as a great writer, naturalist, and advocate of U.S. forest conservation. He puts so much attention and feelings to Yosemite National Park. This second Yosemite fact on this list is about a man who devoted himself fully to nature back in 1867. He had been walking forest to forest and producing books and writing since then. He then came to Yosemite valley in 1868 and walked through Nevada to Alaska as he loved glaciers and forests.
John Muir published a series of articles revealing the magnificent Yosemite formations to glacial erosion in 1874-1875 in Overland Monthly magazine. John Muir has written articles and books about glaciers, forests conservation and preservations, and Yosemite.
Those writings such as “My First Summer in the Sierra, The Yosemite, Letters to a Friend: Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 1866-1879”, are some of his writings where he laid down his ideas, campaign, and affections, and his love for Yosemite. He shared his love and through his writings, he influenced many people to put more attention into nature. It is because humans need nature more than nature needs humans.
3. Yosemite Almost Bid to Host The Winter Olympics in 1932
Hosting an Olympic is a great achievement for many National Parks and countries. Hosting an Olympic shows how great the infrastructure, services, and location itself. However, it is one of Yosemite facts that the Yosemite national park was once put in the official bid to host the 1932 Winter Olympics by Donald Tresidder.
He was the president of Yosemite National Park at that time, competing with Lake Tahoe and Lake Placid. For some reasons, Lake Placid won the bid and later on it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932. Even though Yosemite did not win the bid, that moment gave a great chance to Yosemite to develop its winter’s facilities, especially the ice rink. Yosemite’s ice rink then became the best ice rink in California.
4. 95% of Yosemite National Park is Designated Wilderness
The wilderness in Yosemite National Park was designated in 1964 to the National Wilderness Preservation System. According to the Wilderness Act, “wilderness” is a condition where the earth and its natural community and ecosystem live in peace without human domination. It is where humans are visitors and do not live there forever. So for visitors who want to explore the forests and wonderful wild spots in Yosemite, the NPS provides tips before getting into the activity. They suggest the backpacker or visitors to well-planning the trip. They also suggest visitors to find information regarding safety and regulations, and learn to apply for wilderness permits.
The NPS keep Yosemite wild by limiting human’s interaction with wild animals; bears, deer, mountain lion, birds, etc. They provide composting toilets for visitors to reduce human waste problem and build rules to minimize any human contamination to nature. Moreover, they also have a Wilderness Permit for backpacking, overnight climbing, and any other overnight stay in the Yosemite Wilderness. However, it does not usually apply for day hikes, lodging facilities, and front-country campgrounds. It only applies for visitors who want to hike to Half Dome, and they will need Wilderness Permits.
5. Increased Wild Animals’ Activities Due to Covid-19 Lockdown
Since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Yosemite National Park closed in March 2020. It was done to prevent the spread of coronavirus. There were only about 100 to 200 park crews and employees who stayed to maintain and monitor the park. It was the moment when the valley, meadows, waterfalls, air, rivers, trees, especially wild animals were having a wonderful chance to live their wildlife in peace, without any human intervention, for 3 months.
During the lockdown, the black bears seemed to be out looking for food and explored the area more freely and comfortable with the absence of humans. Besides black bears, squirrels, coyotes, rabbits, wolves, and other wild animals also show similar behaviors. The park reopened on June 11, 2020 with a reservation system to limit the number of visitors to the park.
6. The Home of A Bizarre Fire Fall
This wonderful phenomenon of firefalls usually happens in the Horsetail Falls in Yosemite National Park. It usually happens in late February when the sun sets and its rays perfectly hit the Horsetail waterfall at the best angle. In the perfect weather, time, and sunlight angle, enough snowmelt to flow down the waterfall, the Horsetail waterfall will glow like fire in red, yellow, orange color for more or less 10 minutes.
This is one of the best Yosemite facts, yet the Yosemite Indian has never been mention anything about the phenomenon, even by John Muir who wrote a lot about Yosemite. The reason was probably because lack of a photography device can capture the firefall and to share it to the public. Galen Rowell was the first photographer in 1973 who successfully captured the first-known photograph of the firefall.
7. The Rocks in Yosemite Valley Glow Like Fire During Sunset
As the sunset rays hit the Horsetail fall and trigger the phenomenal Yosemite Firefall, the sunlight also can make the granite line glow like fire as well. El Capitan is one of the biggest granite in the world where this Horsetail fall flows beautifully.
The sunset produces a similar effect to these groups of granite stones and makes them glow like fire. We can see the El Capitan, as the biggest granite stone in the world, from the road ever since the visitor entered Yosemite National Park. Standing strong over 3000 feet in Yosemite valley, El Capitan becomes a magnificent granite stone and a deadly challenging rock to climb by rock climbers.
8. Giant Sequoias Tree Lives in Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park
Besides granite rocks, Yosemite National Park also has more than 500 giant Sequoias living in Mariposa Grove for more than 3000 years. These ancient giant sequoias also live in Tuolumne and Merced Groves of Yosemite National Park. The sequoia trees live far deep in those two grooves, which cause them to have fewer visitors for sequoia trees. In fact, we can see sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove right after the visitors arrive in the groove by the Yosemite free shuttle.
In 2015, Mariposa Grove was closed for 3 years to restore the habitat of giant sequoia trees as well as improving the visitors’ experiences. From 2015-2018, the crews focused on removing parking lots and roads. It was done because it can affect the flow of water to the trees through its roots, adding more accessible trails and improving bathrooms for the visitors’ comfort in visiting Mariposa grove.
9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The First U.S President, Landing A Helicopter in Yosemite Meadow
In August 1962, President John F. Kennedy arrived in Yosemite’s meadow by a helicopter. It was his second visit to California after winning the presidency. The meadow is a restricted place for human, but for the president of the U.S, the meadow became a helipad. Another U.S president who landed in Yosemite by a helicopter is President Obama and the first family on June 17, 2016.
They visited Yosemite to attend the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service as well as took their best day-long hike in Yosemite. A president visiting the National Park is a purposeful action to encourage the society to visit, enjoy, and preserve nature together. As President Obama said in his speech that “This park belongs to all of us, this planet belongs to all of us, it’s the only one we’ve got. And we can’t give lip service to that notion but then oppose the things required to protect it,” Obama said. “On this issue, unlike a lot of issues, there’s such a thing as being too late.” He was expressing the urge of taking care of nature as well as preventing climate change.
10. Yosemite National Park Has Challenging Hiking Trails
While enjoying the beauty of nature in Yosemite National Park, there are several things to do, such as camping, hiking, tour, etc. Since Yosemite National Park is 3,027 km square, it is a great reason to camp and stay there for several nights. But during the day, hiking is the best thing to do while enjoying every step and every inch of Yosemite.
However, hiking requires a detailed preparation. It is required for Yosemite National Park in particular, where there are various challenging hiking trails that would give a memorable experience to the visitors. There are Valley loop trail, Vernal fall and Nevada fall trails, Yosemite Falls trail, Snow Creek trail, Four mile trail, and Half Dome trail. Those are strenuous hiking trails that are highly challenging for the hikers but also will give the best feeling when they see the view from where they are standing.
11. Yosemite Cultural Burning to Restore A Meadow
In 2008, an Indian Cultural Park Interpretive Ranger Kimberly Cunningham-Summerfieldw worked with the Senior Cultural Demonstrator, Julia Parker and the Cultural Demonstrator, Phil Jonhson, to demonstrate the Ahwahneechee’s cultural practices. At that time, they were concerned about the growing Himalayan blackberries and other trees that strangled the wetland area where the Ahwahneechee used to gather native plants they needed.
So, the Yosemite National Park and the local Indian of Yosemite worked together to restore the meadow by starting a fire in the meadow. They removed the blackberries, put it into a stock, and burned it on fire. They found that fire is necessary for nature in order to live and maintain it in a good condition. This cultural burning is an awesome Yosemite fact because the burning was done by traditional Indian techniques. They start the fire by using friction and dry tinder while singing till the fire comes out.
12. National Park Service Minimizes Humans Interventions to Yosemite Ecosystem
Yosemite National Park consists of 95% wilderness, which comes with some rules to minimize human’s intervention in the Yosemite ecosystem. The National Park Services, by means of maintaining Yosemite’s natural ecosystem, made some rules to minimize human’s intervention in nature.
They urge the visitors to do a “Leave No Trace” ethic by properly dispose of any waste they might cause, leave any rocks, plants and any natural objects in the park. It also includes minimize the campfire impacts to nature, and respect the wildlife by keeping distance from wild animals. Visitors also need to leave their pets at home, and never feed wild animals. By those rules, the NPS maintains the Yosemite ecosystem as well as the visitors’ safety. Together, these rules are keeping everyone in the safe space to live together in the most possible peace.
13. There is No Signal Transmitting Tower in Yosemite
To maintain Yosemite’s wildlife, the National Park Service did not build any signal transmitting towers in the park. Instead, they built AT&T Microwave Radio to get internet access in The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Valley Lodge, Curry Village, and Wawona Hotel. There are also computers with internet connection and and Wi-Fi facilities for the public in Mariposa County library branches in Yosemite Valley and Wawona. Yosemite Valley is the most reachable place to get the best cell service or signal for mobile phones.
But other than Yosemite Valley, the cell service is not reliable. A study about radiofrequency radiation from wireless telecommunication shows that electromagnetic radiation may hurt wildlife. It can also reduce some species’s natural defenses, increase problems in reproduction as well as reduce their habitat. Signals from smartphones are considered as electromagnetic pollution which can affect nature and wildlife.
14. Ahwahnee is Yosemite’s Local Indian Village
Ahwahnee is the native Indian village in Yosemite Valley, which is home to the “Ahwahneechee” or people of Ahwahnee. They also call themselves the Southern Sierra Miwok, or also known as “Me-Wuk” that means “people” to identify which Miwok groups they belong to. Archeological evidence suggests that people have been living in Yosemite for around 8000 years. However, throughout history, Indian people are believed to have lived in Yosemite around 4000 years.
In 1851, Yosemite Valley was entered by the Mariposa Battalion. They attempted to remove Indian people from Yosemite valley but they did not succeed. Since then, non-Indian people began to live in Yosemite Valley and affected all living aspects there. With so many changes happening in Yosemite Valley, the number of Indian people in Yosemite were getting less and less. With that dark history of Indian people in Yosemite, they have found their sunlight today. The native people of Yosemite now live in Mariposa County, Tuolumne County, or even scattered throughout the world.
15. Severidents Happened in Yosemite
Not all Yosemite facts are positive, in a way, because the beauty of Yosemite also comes with its dangers. Wildlife can be seen as a magnificent nature and spirit that would blow anyone’s mind away. However, it is actually the most dangerous part. Yosemite is a place full of granite that might be slippery when it lives side by side to a waterfall. In 2011, there was an accident where three people had crossed the metal guardrail above the Vernal Fall. They slipped over the Merced River and plunged into Vernal fall. They were members of a church group and were confirmed dead.
Another accident was caused by the visitors who fell down the cliff in Yosemite National Park. In 2015, the well-known rock climber Dean Potter, died in Yosemite National Park while attempting a wingsuit flight. He usually climbs a giant rock, wears his wingsuit and parachute, jumps down the cliff, and pulls the parachute when he has reached the closest distance to the ground. But that day, the parachute did not come out, which caused him to die.
There were also several incidents that happened in Yosemite. Those incidents include dehydrated hikers, cold freezing swimmers, bitten by snakes, experience with lightning, and lost in some areas. There are also other incidents that mostly can be handled by the team.
16. There is A Cemetery in Yosemite
We have come to the last Yosemite fact on this list. We know that a National Park does not always have a cemetery in it. However, there is a historical cemetery in Yosemite National Park. There are people who are meritorious to the development of Yosemite National Park and give their whole life to nature. People who lived and decided to stay permanently in Yosemite mostly have a request or a wish to be buried in Yosemite as well. Such as Galen Clark as the first guardian of Yosemite, James Mason Hutchings as the first tourist group organizer in 1855., Forest S.
Townsley was the first Chief Ranger of Yosemite. George Anderson was the first person who reached the peak of Half Dome. George Fiske was the photography studio pacemaker in Yosemite Valley. Sadie Schaeffer as a waitress at the Sentinel Hotel, Lucy Brown as one of the last American Indian survivors from the tragedy of Mariposa Battalion in 1851, and 11 graves of Yosemite Indians. They are people who lived in the past and did things for nature and now are laying back to nature.