Visiting Yosemite National Park
In 1864, in the midst of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln took the time to sign the Yosemite Grant. The grant ceded the scenic Yosemite Valley of the Sierra Nevada, as well as a stand of redwood trees called the Mariposa Grove, to the state of California. It was the first time that land has been set aside specifically for its preservation and enjoyment by the public.
Later expanded and further protected as a National Park, Yosemite is 1,200 square miles of breathtakingly beautiful granite mountains, valleys, waterfalls and groves of giant Sequoias. June 30 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant and the beginning of the park as a national treasure.
Yosemite’s well-known landmarks include El Capitan, an impressive cliff of pale granite that presents a challenge to even the most expert climbers. Half Dome is an imposing granite dome seemingly sliced in half by a giant’s knife.
The park’s higher elevations support beautiful subalpine meadows, often snow-covered in the winter but sprinkled with flowers in warmer weather. The park is also famous for its waterfalls, including Yosemite, Ribbon Falls and Bridalveil Falls. When the snow melts or after a rare summer thunderstorm, visitors can enjoy hundreds of ephemeral, or short-term, waterfalls as well. Yosemite also has three stands of spectacular giant sequoias: the Mariposa, Tuolumne and Merced Groves.
Adventure awaits with Yosemite National Park tours. Yosemite’s lodging for visitors ranges from campsites to elegant rooms at The Ahwahnee Hotel. Appealingly rustic lodges offer everything from “tent cabins” (canvas tents with cement or wood floors) to bunk rooms designed to accommodate families.
The nearest airports include Fresno-Yosemite International, about 90 minutes from the park’s south entrance, and Modesto City-County Airport, about 90 minutes from the west entrance. Visitors can also fly into San Francisco or Reno and catch a motorcoach tour to Yosemite.
While it can be difficult to find parking inside Yosemite, you can park a car in several nearby towns (including Merced, Mariposa, Lee Vining and Mammoth Lakes) and hop on a Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) shuttle.
There are other wonderful places to explore near Yosemite, including unusual geologic features at Devil’s Postpile National Monument; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks; and the historic gold mining country of Tuolumne County. To plan your Yosemite National Park tour, give your travel agents in St. Louis a call at 636.778.1081 or stop by our Travel Leaders office in Chesterfield MO just off I-64 and Boone’s Crossing near Starbucks.