By merely standing in Yosemite Valley and turning in a circle, you can see more natural wonders in a minute than you could in a full day pretty much anywhere else. Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, Sentinel Dome, the Merced River, white-flowering dogwood trees, maybe even bears ripping into the bark of fallen trees or sticking their snouts into beehives—it's all in Yosemite Valley.In the mid-1800s, when tourists were arriving to the area, the valley's special geologic qualities and the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove 30 miles to the south so impressed a group of influential Californians that they persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to grant those two areas to the state for protection. On October 1, 1890—thanks largely to lobbying efforts by naturalist John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson, the editor of Century Magazine—Congress set aside 1,500 square miles for Yosemite National Park.
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Things You Can't Miss
The one-mile hike to Lower Yosemite Falls is low-effort with major payoff, especially in the spring, when the falls are at their peak.
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It's hard to take a bad picture here, but you'll marvel at Ansel Adams' landscapes at his gallery in Yosemite Village. Browse or attend a workshop
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At 8,600 feet in the Sierra Nevada High Country, Tuolumne Meadows, speckled with wildflowers in spring, is a respite from the bustle of the valley floor.
Enjoy breathtaking photos and descriptions of the most beautiful places in America, including Yellowstone Caldera and Death Valley.
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Trade your car for a rental bike and take to the valley's 12 miles of mostly flat paved paths. Mirror Lake is a great spot for a picnic.
These 10 hikes will take you to some of the most spectacular spots our parks have to offer.
The Ahwahnee Hotel welcomes everyone to enjoy its huge stone fireplaces and hand-stenciled beams. Have a drink in the lounge and write a postcard home.
Get information on national parks throughout America.
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