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Yosemite National Park

Redwood National and State Parks - BEST Places to Picnic

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Phone
Visitor Information
(209) 372-0200

WELCOME to Yosemite!

Yosemite National Park, one of the first wilderness parks in the United States, is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

Directions:

You can visit Yosemite all year, though some areas of the park are inaccessible by car from approximately November through May due to snow. You can drive your car into and around Yosemite, though we encourage you to use shuttle buses in some areas.

Reservations are not required to enter Yosemite, however we strongly recommend that you make reservations for camping or lodging if you plan to spend the night.

History

For tens of thousands of years, humans have changed, and have been changed by, this place we now call Yosemite. The Ahwahneechee lived here for generations, followed by the arrival of Europeans in the mid-1800s. The rugged terrain challenged many early travelers, with just a few�only 650 from the mid-1850s to mid-1860s�making the journey to Yosemite Valley by horseback or stagecoach. By 1907, construction of the Yosemite Valley Railroad from Merced to El Portal eased the journey, thereby, increasing visitation. Today, 3.5 million people enter the park�s gates to explore. We learn from the stories of those who walked Yosemite�s trails before us, allowing appreciation of their lasting footprints that led to conscious preservation.

People: Seven present-day tribes descend from the people who first called this area home. As Europeans arrived in the mid-1800s, violent disruption ensued that displaced the native populations. Early white settlers arrived and hosted writers, artists, and photographers who spread the fame of "the Incomparable Valley" throughout the world.

Places: Within Yosemite�s history, various cultures abounded that left a mark. Historic mining sites remain from miners who came to the Sierra to seek their fortune in gold. Early lodging establishments, like the Wawona Hotel, offered a more primitive setting for the Valley�s first tourists and today's visitors, and more elegant lodging, like The Ahwahnee, was added to satisfy those looking for comfort.

Stories: History books detail the Mariposa Battalion entering Yosemite Valley in 1851 to remove the Ahwahneechee. As Euro-American settlement occurred, people arrived on foot, on horseback and by rail to rustic hotels. Parts of the landscape were exploited, spurring conservationists to appeal for protections. President Abraham Lincoln signed an 1864 bill granting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to the State of California. John Muir helped spark the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890.

Preservation: Archeological and architectural recognition honor Yosemite's past. Archeologists systematically study the things left behind to uncover clues about historic cultures, economic systems, settlement patterns, demography, and social organizations. Architects make note of the National Park Service Rustic Style of many Yosemite structures representing the belief that buildings should blend in with natural surroundings.

Research and Studies: A plethora of ongoing scientific research abounds at Yosemite from vista management to soundscape preservation to human carrying capacity issues. Yosemite has been building its Division of Resource Management and Science, serving as a public meeting place for scientific symposiums with papers presented at monthly forums. View the schedule for this year's Yosemite Forum.

Nature

Yosemite National Park, which boasts nearly 95 percent designated Wilderness, is a 195-mile escape from urban San Francisco or a 313-mile journey from populated Los Angeles. The expansive park�s 747,956 acres or 1,169 square miles are home to hundreds of wildlife species and thousands of Yosemite plants. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is known for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves and biological diversity. Two Wild & Scenic Rivers, the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, begin within Yosemite and flow west into the Central Valley. People experience the park through 800 miles of hiking trails and 350 miles of road.

Places to Picnic

  • Inspiration Point
  • Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center
  • Wowona Information Center (3 sites)
  • Yosemite Creek
  • Yosemite Valley Visitor Center (5 sites)

Did You Know?
Black bears in Yosemite are active both day and night. Most bears that rely on natural food sources are active during the day. However, those that get food from people are often active at night, when they can quietly sneak around and grab unattended food.

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