Contents: Inroduction | Geology | Photography | Waterfalls | Hiking | Climbing | Maps

Derived from
Climbing in Yosemite at Guillaume and Jennifer Dargaud's website.
See more map links below.

Yosemite National Park was established on 01 October 1890, and is the Nation's third oldest national park. Yosemite National Park is a showcase of spectacular geological features, including the greatest concentration of granite domes in the world and the largest exposed granite monolith in the world.
Yosemite National Park is a showcase of spectacular geological features, including the greatest concentration of granite domes in the world and the largest exposed granite monolith in the world.

Most people think of Yosemite Valley with granite monoliths like Half Dome and numerous waterfalls. The valley is surrounded by Yosemite National Park, a 1,200 square mile park containing deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

The Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center on Hwy 120 (Tioga Rd.) 10 miles west of the 9,945 ft Tioga Pass, has information on day hikes and wilderness permits.

Yosemite was the birthplace of the idea of the Sierra Club. There is a famous picture of Sierra Club founder, John Muir and Presedent Theodore Roosevelt at Glacier Point in 1903.

It is the sixth most visited National Park with 4 million visitors a year.

400-365 Million years ago (MYA) magma which cooled underground (Igneous rock) formed the granite.
155-300 MYA the North American continental plate drifted away from the super-continent of Pangea and moved westward. It collided with a Pacific Island chain in an area which is now the Sierra Nevada.
163-143 MYA compression caused uplifting of the Sierra Nevada to about 3/4 of present height.
As the mountains rose, the land tilted and the westward flowing Merced River accelerated, carving deep, v-shaped river canyons. Later, massive glaciers flowed down the canyons.
2 million to 20,000 yrs. ago colder temperatures slowed melting and eventually glaciers formed and began to carve away at the v-shaped canyons, transforming them into u-shaped valleys. Tributary streams did not carve their canyons as deep as Merced Canyon. Glaciers sheared off these canyons leaving them as "hanging valleys." Tributary creeks, which had once joined the main stream at the same elevation, now plummeted off of shear cliffs, giving birth to the park's famed waterfalls. Eventually, sediment washed down out of the high country, filled in Lake Yosemite to form the present valley floor.

Ansel Adams photographs have done much for the parks notoriety.
Popular Photo Ops:
Viewpoints (
Monoliths - Half Dome, El Capitan
Waterfalls - See below
Giant Sequoia Groves: Mariposa, Merced, Tuolumne Grove
Glacier Point:
High Country: Off hwy 120 (Tioga Rd.), Olmsted Point, ...
Photographing Yosemite Digital Field Guide - iPhone app
Great Photo Locations and Directions in Yosemite National Park - Locations
Cliff Stone's Blog: Photographing Yosemite - How to find Great Locations for your Shots
Fine Art Nature Photography by Spears McAllester

There are many photography workshops available, see:
Yosemite Landscape Photography Workshops
Yosemite Photo Walk - Yosemite Photo Tour : Yosemite Park

Waterfalls in the Valley:
Yosemite Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world at 2,425 ft, if you count all three sections. Only Angel Fall (3,300 ft) in Venezuela is higher.

Falls Heigh Dates * Peak
Yosemite Falls 2,425 ft November through July May
Sentinel Falls 2,000 ft March through June May
Ribbon Fall 1,612 ft March through June May
Horsetail Fall 1,000 ft December through April
Bridalveil Fall 620 ft All year May
Nevada Fall 594 ft All year late May
Vernal Fall 317 ft All year, though by mid to late summer, it narrows and separates into one, two, or three falls as water flows decrease; late May
Illilouette Fall 370 ft all year. Widest falls. late May
* Dates are approximate. It depends on the weather, the amount of snow and when snow melt starts.

Horsetail Fall is famous for appearing to be on fire when it reflects the orange glow of sunset in mid- to late-February. It falls off of the east side of El Capitan and is best seen from just east of El Capitan.

Yosemite National Park - Waterfalls (U.S. National Park Service)
How much water will there be in the Yosemite waterfalls?

Yosemite Falls

Horsetail Fall

The Yosemite National Park web page ( has
a Hiking Page, Day Hikes, trail maps and videos to help you.
The hike to the top of half dome is a 14 to 16 mile round-trip with a total of 4,800 feet elevation gain. Most hikers take 10 to 12 hours to hike to Half Dome and back; some take longer.
See also:
Yosemite Hikes: The best hikes in Yosemite National Park at
Yosemite Hiking and Backpacking Trips | Backpacker Magazine

Yosemite is world renown for its rock climbing. See the Rock Climbing page here

Yosemite Valley Plan 199?
Reduce parking spaces from 1,700 to 550
2003 legislature proposal to increase back to 1,200 and add campsites.

Yosemite National Park - Maps ( Yosemite Valley | Hiking Trails
Yosemite National Park (
Google Map of the National Park
Google Terrain Map of Valley
Yosemite Valley Topo
Tioga Road/Big Oak Flat Road - Map

Yosemite National Park ( Yosemite Valley
Yosemite National Park Vacation |
Yosemite Park Lodge
Yosemite's Curry Village Lodging
The Ahwahnee Hotel

The Ahwahnee guest list included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Haile Selassie, the Shah of Iran, Herbert Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Gertrude Stein, Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Lucille Ball, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, Greta Garbo, John F. Kennedy, and most recently Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip.
Source: Architecture in the Parks (The Ahwahnee) at
What to Do at Yosemite - National Geographic
Rock Climbing
John Muir's did as much as anyone to promote Yosemite, bringing notables such as Theodore Roosevelt and Ralph Waldo Emerson to visit.
Ansel Adams photographs have done much for the parks notoriety.
Half Dome Day Hike (U.S. National Park Service)

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last updated 10 Mar 2012