By Paul and Teresa Lowe
The place called America is a land of many superlatives, but perhaps few places inspire some of America’s wonderment quite like a visit to Yosemite National Park in California.
Upon entering this vast park (1,200 square miles) many people initially stop along side the roads to admire graceful flowing meadows, giant trees, rushing streams, rivers, north America’s tallest water – ‘Yosemite Falls,’ and the monolith granite blocks of granite such as ‘El Capitan.’ The National Park Service celebrates 100 years, and there is sure recognition that Yosemite Park is a premiere family destination and one of the planet’s magnificent treasures. The park service celebrates the anniversary with free admission (August 25-28).
Ways to Enjoy Yosemite
Stop by the Yosemite Visitors Center in the park’s village area and plan a shuttle or tram tour of Yosemite Valley is a great first move.
Another really cool way to see the park and learn more intimate details about Yosemite is to take a Ranger guided tour.
Other folks take in the sights of Yosemite along the many bike and hiking trails along the waterways and high country.
After spending a day exploring the park, some folks relax and enjoy the Yosemite Valley Theater with creative performances that reveal the area’s history and little known stories.
A brief history of Yosemite
The foundation for what is now Yosemite National Park was set in motion by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 with a land grant to protect the giant trees forest from commercial destruction.
What is now the Yosemite Valley was originally inhabited by people who called themselves the “Ahwahneechee.” This group of people, who date back as long ago as 6-thousand years, co existed with another indigenous people in the area known as the Mono Lake Pauite. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 brought a rush of quick fortune seekers and settlers to the area. With the influx came great tensions over land and water access. Eventually the disputes erupted into the 1851 war between settlers and the indigenous peoples.
In 1906 President Teddy Roosevelt at the urging of conversationalist John Muir convinced Congress to have the entire Yosemite territory set aside under California special land protection. After Muir’s relentless urging for even more land protections Congress in 1916 established the National Park Service.
The initial job of protecting the Yosemite Park and its waters, as well as the safety of both settlers and the indigenous people, fell to the authority of the army’s African American Calvary best known as the “Buffalo Soldiers.”
Cool places to stay and dine, fish and camp just outside of Yosemite National Park. Bass Lake, Tenaya Lodge, Coarsegold, Groveland and more.