Located in the granite heart of California’s mighty Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite is one of the United States’ first wilderness parks.
It’s visited by 3-and-a-half million people each year.
Yosemite National Park is home to North America’s highest waterfall: Yosemite Falls.
A nearly two and a half thousand foot drop makes this an iconic image of Yosemite.
Some visitors look for adventure, and may climb Half Dome, a granite peak more than 4800 feet high. Although a long and challenging hike, a climb here requires no special expertise.
More experienced climbers aim for El Capitan, a 3-thousand foot peak. It is the largest monolith of granite in the world.
Yosemite’s great granite peaks were once the fiery heart of an immense volcano.
100 million years ago, massive bubbles of magma rose into a huge chamber five miles beneath the surface of the earth.
That magma cooled into a single gigantic slab of granite- 350 miles long, 60 miles wide, and 10 miles thick. As water eroded the overlying rock, the granite rose.
We see parts of it today as El Capitan and Yosemite’s other great stone sentinels.
And Yosemite boasts other iconic images… much younger than the granite, but very old when compared to other living things on earth. Giant sequoias, reach 300 feet up, as high as a 27-story building. Some sequoias have been around for up to 3,000 years.
Scientists here are climbing the giants to study how well the trees pump water from the ground, and how climate change could be affecting them.
Yosemite, providing a glimpse at earth’s ancient past, and offering a window to its constant changes.