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So How Much Do You Really Know About Yosemite?

By   /  May 17, 2024  /  No Comments


TR Robertson – You might be one of the 3.5 million people that will visit Yosemite this year, one of America’s favorite National Parks. I would venture to guess that the wide majority of people who either have been to Yosemite or plan to visit for the first time do not know a lot about this amazing park. Provided below is a Yosemite primer and trivia for you if you are planning on going this year or in the future or have been in the past and would like to know more about one of the most beautiful national parks in the nation.

  • The name Yosemite is a corruption of a southern Miwok word, yohbe’ meti, applied to any species of bear, especially Grizzly bear. It means “they are killers”.
  • The Miwok, an indigenous tribe, lived in the surrounding area.
  • The Ahwahneechee people were the original indigenous residents of the valley.
  • They called the valley Ahwahnee, “gaping mouth like place”.
  • It is believed humans have lived in the valley for over 8,000 years.
  • Non-native people making contact with the tribes living in the area are said to have started calling the area Yosemite.
  • Many of the names of the places in Yosemite come from the indigenous tribes that have lived around or in Yosemite.
  • The name for tall granite cliff face called El Capitan, is said come from the Ahwahneechee’s name for the first chief of one of the tribes in the area, Too-tok-ah-noo-lah which means chief. The Spanish that passed through this area are said to have substituted their word for chief, El Capitan, and the name stuck.
  • The Ahwahneechee called Half Dome Tis-se’-yak (Face of a Young Woman Stained with Tears), probably because of the brown-black lichens of dark vertical drip like stripes on the face.
  • Half Dome was never a complete dome. Glaciers sheared away part of the granite as can be seen by the cracks in the granite’s face.
  • Hiking up Half Dome takes an approved permit.
  • May-October are the busiest tourist months for Yosemite.
  • Yosemite Valley was formed by glaciers that reached 4,000 feet in thickness over 1 million years ago.
  • Yosemite Valley is a U-shaped valley.
  • Yosemite is said to be the birthplace of rock climbing as a sport in the U.S.
  • 95% of the park has been designated as a wilderness area.
  • There are 800 miles of hiking trails in the park and 12 miles of paved bike paths.
  • There are 400 different animal and fish species in the park.
  • Yosemite is home to 3 of the 10 highest waterfalls and one of the world’s largest trees – the Grizzley Giant.
  • Yosemite Falls falls 2,425 feet making 3 drops.
  • Yosemite Park covers 1,200 square miles and 747,956 acres.
  • Mt. Lyell is the highest point in the park – 13,114 feet.
  • The park has 13 main campgrounds and backcountry camping areas.
  • You can see moonbows in the waterfall’s mist.
  • The Gold Rush of 1848-1855 brought Europeans and Americans to the area.
  • In 1850, a major conflict broke out between the miners living in the area and the Ahwahneechee people, called the Mariposa War.
  • The majority of the Ahwahneechee people would leave the area and assimilate with the Paiute tribes in the Mono Lake region.
  • In 1855, entrepreneur James Mason Hutchins and artist Tomas Ayres visited the area and wrote articles and made drawings of the area.
  • They began to bring tourists to the area between 1855-1860.
  • Some of the Indian people that did remain began to work with Hutchins and Ayres.
  • European-American conservationist and writer Galen Clark discovered the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees in 1857.
  • In the late 1860’s John Muir moved to the area.
  • John Muir is a founding member of the Sierra Club.
  • John Muir’s writings and descriptions of Yosemite would help lead to the government protection of the area and the creation of Yosemite Park.
  • President Lincoln and Congress declared Yosemite as a forest reserve in 1864 with the Yosemite Grant.
  • As more visitors began to arrive, horse and wagon trails were developed.
  • The oldest bridge in Yosemite was built in 1868 in Wawona, still standing today.
  • In 1869 the transcontinental railroad was established, and more people began to head to the West Coast, specifically California.
  • In 1875 the Yosemite Stage & Turnpike Company was established in Wawona.
  • The Wawona Road would be developed, a dirt road, leading tourists close to the Valley.
  • In 1876-79 the Wawona Hotel was built.
  • Yosemite was declared a National Park on October 1, 1890.
  • John Muir took a camping trip with President Teddy Roosevelt in 1903.
  • Muir convinced Pres. Roosevelt to put control of Yosemite under the federal government’s control.
  • The Buffalo Soldiers, an African American Army Regiment helped police the park, making them one of the country’s first Park Rangers.
  • Yosemite once bid to host the 1932 Olympics when a 800 foot snow slide, an ice skating rink, a toboggan run and several ski jumps were constructed in the area.
  • The Ahwahnee Hotel was built in 1926.
  • The Ahwahnee was used as a rehab facility by the U.S. Navy in WW II.
  • The interior shots of “The Shining” were shot inside of The Ahwahnee.
  • For a few years recently The Ahwahnee was called The Majestic Yosemite.

There you go. A few facts you may not have known about a place many of you may have visited several times and new info for those of you who may be planning on going for the first time. Now you can impress your friends as you sit and have drinks at The Ahwahnee Bar in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S.


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  • Published: 4 weeks ago on May 17, 2024
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  • Last Modified: May 17, 2024 @ 2:19 am
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