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Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite is a precious place for people all over the world. The consensus is that everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime. It is a wonderland of forests, raucous rivers, and serene streams, to say the very least.

Yosemite was discovered by non-natives in 1833, but had been occupied by Native Americans roughly 4000 years before the Gold Rush. In 1855 Yosemite saw its first tourists. John Muir was first drawn by the giant Sequoias in 1868. Famous for its jaw dropping beauty atop the Sierra Nevadas, Yosemite became the first state park in North America in 1890. It was the first significant tract of land purchased by the government and it paved the way for many natural reserves and parks in the future.

The first camp specifically for tourists opened in 1899. Truly beloved by President Teddy Roosevelt, Yosemite was declared a complete National Park in 1906. This includes the high country, the valley, Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley.

The US National Park Service runs the park. Park Rangers handle the law enforcement, search and rescue, traffic, etc. Most of the facilities and services are located in the Yosemite Valley. The valley itself is 7 square miles and 70-80% of visitors stay in the valley. The Yosemite visitor center is here, as are the deli, the post office, garage, shuttle service to the rest of Yosemite, the chapel, showers, laundry, campgrounds, lodging, the jail, bike rentals, etc.

There are four main access points to the park: California Hwys 140, 120 east and west, and the 41. You can get there by bus, airplane, train or car. Once you have arrived, there is complimentary shuttle service around the valley that runs every 10 minutes.

Yosemite is also home to some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. There are three Sequoia groves in Yosemite. Mariposa Grove contains the largest of the trees, some of which are 2000-3000 years old. Tolumne Grove is home to the Dead Giant, which became famous for the tunnel which ran through it. And last, but not least, is the Merced Grove. It holds sequoias and tiny wildflowers both reaching for the blue sky right next to each other.

Something else to do in Yosemite (among the hundreds!) is to stop by the visitor's center. There you can meet with customer service representatives who can help you with which tour would suit you and your family best. Also tailor-made video tours are available for one-dayers.

Yosemite Museum is a great place to see just how important the park has been in creating a place where man, animal, and nature can come together in harmony. It shows the park through the years and really gives an insight into the history of Yosemite. The Ansel Adams Museum is also here; a breathtaking look at the love affair between Mr. Adams and the park for over 60 years.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said "...this valley is the only place that comes up to the brag and exceeds it."

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