Yosemite National Park is a place filled with natural beauty, rich history, and diverse animal and plant life. This park has made history in many different ways. Here are some of our favorite fun facts about the park!
- Yosemite was the third national park to ever be established. It was created on October 1st, 1890.
- Yosemite is the 15th largest national park, at 761, 747.50 acres. This land is preserved by the Yosemite Grant, which sets the land aside as a national park.
- Yosemite is the 6th most visited park, with 4,020,288 visitors every year. While the park is most popular in the summer months, due to the warm weather and the blooming wildflowers, Yosemite also attracts visitors in the winter months, for activities including skiing, snowshoeing, and more.
- Yosemite is a popular destination for avid hikers, and boasts over 800 miles (1300 km) of hiking trails. The park offers hikes for all levels, from an easy stroll to a strenuous, multi-day climb. Hiking is available year round- although in the winter, you may have to snowshoe! While hiking, it is important to remember to stay on the trails. Going off trail can cause damage to the natural splendor of the park, due to erosion, and increase your chances of coming across bears and mountain lions. Make certain to bring plenty of water, and stay safe!
- Yosemite is also a draw for rock climbers, and is coined as the Rock Climbing Mecca, or the birthplace of competitive rock climbing. Yosemite has been a popular destination for rock climbers since the 1880s, due to its impressive rock formations. Yosemite offers climbs from sun soaked meadows to challenging, multi-day climbs.
- Yosemite is home to incredible natural phenomena, one of which takes place at Horsetail Falls. Horsetail Falls is a small waterfall which flows down El Capitan only during the winter. It is easy to miss, except for during this phenomena. For approximately two weeks in February, Horsetail Falls glows bright red before and after sunset- given the right conditions. The water of the falls must be flowing, it must be a clear night, and the light from the sunset must be at the right angle. When the conditions are right, this phenomena is a spectacular sight to behold, and well worth the wait. This event is reminiscent of the Firefall event, which was orchestrated by humans.
- Yosemite was once home to the annual Firefall event, which took place every summer for nearly a century. In this event, burning hot embers were pushed off of Glacier Point, creating a waterfall like effect. This effect originated from an Irish immigrant, James McCauley, who would kick embers from his fires over the ledge of the granite cliff behind the hotel he owned in the area. His guests noticed the effect the falling embers created, and his sons used the phenomena as a way to earn extra money. After they left the hotel, Camp Curry, an early tourist camp, reignited the tradition for their guests. Firefall became a ceremony, with the head of the camp chanting “let the fire fall” before pouring the embers down the side of the granite wall. The Firefall was cancelled during World War II, but was brought back by popular demand upon the war’s end. The event only ended in 1968, when the park director claimed that the event was not in accordance with the mission of Yosemite, which was to appreciate natural wonders. Since the Firefall was man made, the event was discontinued.
- Yosemite is the only national park to ever bid to host the Olympics- specifically, the 1932 Winter Olympics. While many people associate Yosemite with summer activities, the smaller crowds during the winter allow for a more intimate relationship with the natural splendor of the park. Yosemite offers many winter activities, including snowshoeing and skiing. Stephen Mather believed that Yosemite had great potential as a winter, as well as a summer, destination. Due to this belief, Yosemite bid for the 1932 Winter Olympics. This was the first winter Olympics ever held in the United States. While the park was not chosen to host the event, the bid increased winter activities, allowing Mather’s dream to be more fully realized.