Yosemite National Park is many things to many people. For climbers, it is revered as the birthplace of rock climbing as a sport, and home to the holy grail of that sport: the Dawn Wall, El Capitan. For photo enthusiasts, it is well-known as muse to famed black-and-white photographer Ansel Adams. For snow-seekers it is home to California’s oldest ski resort, Badger Pass. And for outdoorsmen and conservationists, it is known as the home of America’s very first park guardian, Galen Clark, who is believed to have been the very first person to count and record the giant sequoia trees found in Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove.
More important than the man who counted them, though, are the trees themselves. Within the 1125 square miles (2914 square kilometres) of Yosemite National Park, you will find 35 species of tree, with conifers (cone-bearing trees or evergreens), like the aforementioned sequoias, being most prevalent. Along with these massive (and massively impressive) redwoods, you can also spot California black oak, several species of willow, California nutmeg, fragrant incense cedar, giant sugar pine, white fir, the flowering dogwood, the dwarf maple and the quaking aspen, and the graceful mountain hemlock to name just a few.
In short, Yosemite is a veritable tree-sure trove of trees.
One of the most famous being a giant sequoia named the Wawona Tunnel Tree which, until 1969, you could actually drive your car through. Located in Galen Clark’s beloved Mariposa Grove, the Wawona tunnel was carved in 1881 to provide a photo opportunity for tourists. It stood for 88 years, until a snow storm knocked the tree down in 1969. You can still visit the tree today, although it has, rather prosaically we might add, been renamed Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree.
Not a tree-person? Along with the trees, so very many trees, Yosemite is also home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. At 2425 feet (739 metres), Yosemite Falls is actually made up of three separate falls cascading into one, which can be seen from numerous places around Yosemite Valley. It is also home to more than 400 species of wildlife, including the rare Sierra Nevada red fox, which was spotted for the first time in nearly a century on a wildlife cam, roaming the high elevations of California’s Sierra Nevada back in December 2014 and January 2015. Don’t expect to see one when you visit though – it would be almost amazing as spotting Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.
Regardless, a trip to Yosemite is guaranteed to be filled with wonder and magic, awe-inspiring sights, and more than enough history and fascinating facts to keep any visitor enthralled. Case in point: Yosemite is also one of the few places in the US, indeed the world, where you can see a rainbow at night. Yes, the famous Yosemite waterfalls and their associated rainbows are pretty, but stick around until after sundown to catch a glimpse of pure magic. In spring and early summer, when the sky is clear and the moon is full, you may just catch sight of the park’s lunar rainbows or moonbows. The combination of a full moon and waterfall mist sometimes creates what is a shimmering silver arc to the naked eye, but full technicolour rainbow through your camera’s lens when set to long exposure.
Whether you subscribe to the woodsman life or not, visit Yosemite. Enchanted you will be.