It was a banal and human desire for some days off in nature that was the reason why Theodore left. He was to meet a man who, in turn, was not there to take time off. On the contrary, he had an idea that the two should meet, in the middle of the forest area with the huge trees. Theodore himself was an avid hunter, so he was in his right element when he finally arrived. The man he was to meet rose from his seat by the fire, held out his hand and said: I am John Muir. Welcome to Yosemite, Mister President.
For the next three days, the two rode around the huge park. Muir used the days to convince Theodore Roosevelt that he should legislate so that areas like Yosemite were protected. It was high time for private investors to have big plans for the area and they were not going in Muir's direction. Muir had studied biology and geography and he wanted Yosemite to be preserved for posterity. Roosevelt became aware that the government had to legislate so that Yosemite and other natural areas could be preserved, for future generations.
No other president has since done so much for nature as Roosevelt and in 1906 the National Parks Act became a reality. 10 years later, the organization, the National Park Service, was formed to protect and service the national parks.
110 years later, I am sitting on the other side of the earth writing about Yosemite National Park, thanks to these two gentlemen.
In stark contrast to the beauty of the area, is its history. The original Anwahneechee Indians were displaced when the gold rush in 1849 exploded, following John Sutter's discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A company, called the Mariposa group, which was to fight the Indians, was prepared for battle, but not for the beauty of the area. Some of the hardy men cried when they saw how beautiful it was.
The best thing to see in Yosemite
Out of the state's nine national parks, Yosemite is probably California's most famous national park. There are many good reasons for this. The park is of course overwhelmingly beautiful, with the many waterfalls, glaciers, rock formations, the Sequoias trees and the vast forest areas. Furthermore, it is only a four hour drive from San Francisco.
At the southwest end you will find the incredible Sequoia trees that are so large that a car can drive through them. The area is called Mariposa Grove, and has over 500 Giant Sequoia trees. I recommend taking a guided tour. Many start the visit here as it is a 40 minute drive from the town of Oakhurst. The city is a good bet for a place to live if you do not live inside the national park. Tip: If you want to live in Yosemite, you must book approx. 10 months in advance.
If you drive the long way up to Glacier Point, a magnificent sight awaits. The Half Dome mountain is impressive with its slope of 93% degrees. The native Indians called it "the yawning mouth."
Hiking in beautiful surroundings
As in most national parks, there are not many shopping or gas stations here. Yosemite Village and Curry Village have most shops and eateries.
Yosemite is the 3rd most visited national park. 4 million tourists come here every year. At the end of May, the roads are usually passable and Yosemite Falls is busy. The waterfall is the highest in North America with its 739 meters, when the three layers the fall consists of are added together. In high season, however, there is not always water in the top two falls.
Yosemite is a great place to hike eg Yosemite Falls (11 km), Inspiration Point (2 km), or steep Sentinel Dome (3,5 km).
Stop at the large parking lot on Wawona Rd., Just east of the tunnel and get one of the area's best views of the beautiful wooded area.
If you drive northeast out of the park, via scenic Tioga Pass for example towards Death Valley, then take a short detour and make a stop at Mono Lake, which is quite unusually a saltwater lake. If you have reached there, then also see Bodil Ghost Town, which is located in the area.
Yosemite is not open all year
Large snow masses close Yosemite in the winter, which surprises many tourists. Maybe because the park is in California.
Tioga Pass is first free of snow very late in the season. In 2017, it only opened on 1.7. The pass is very central to many people's roadtrip route. For example, if you want to go from Yosemite to Death Valley, you have to cross Tioga. Alternatives to Tioga are unfortunately very time consuming as one has to go south of the Sierra Nevada mountains, north of Los Angeles.
The good Muir formed the Sierra Club, the world's largest environmental movement with 1.3 million members. For his great work, he was honored, with the naming of the Muir Woods National Monument, located outside San Francisco. He spent almost all of his time exploring Yosemite. "The mountains are calling and I must go," he said.