8 Fascinating Facts About Yosemite

 8 Fascinating Facts About Yosemite

We're frequently writing about Yosemite National Park at the RV Lifestyle and for good reason — it's one of the oldest and most impressive of the nation's National Parks. 

We've featured it in “12 Surreal U.S. Destinations Worth the RV Trip” and “10 Most Visited National Parks in 2019” and “13 Stunning Waterfalls in the U.S.” It's always a favorite topic of our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers.

That's why I was super interested in a recent piece done by Travel Trivia on “8 Things You Never Knew About Yosemite National Park.” It's a great primer for those who may be seeking new information about the park and a fun list to revisit for veteran travelers. 

To make it easy, I put together the list below for you to check out. (Be sure to add YOUR fun facts in the comments below!)

Yosemite Helped Establish the National Park System

Yosemite is the United States’ third oldest national park. Aided by President Abraham Lincoln, it paved the way for its predecessors. That’s because eight years before Yellowstone was declared America’s first national park in 1872, Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant on June 30, 1864. This was a land conservation bill that was the first of its kind and many people view tas the first step toward establishing our national park system. This marked an undeniably historic moment for Mother Nature.

An image of a Yosemite National Park sign
Yosemite Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

John Muir Saved Yosemite

Though Lincoln moved to protect the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove, it took 26 years before the land was officially made part of the park system. John Muir — a Scottish-born writer, naturalist, and conservationist living in Wisconsin — can be thanked for that. Because he was opposed to the use of natural resources in protected forests, Muir’s newspaper and magazine articles raised public awareness on preservation and condemned the destruction of the state-controlled forests and meadows surrounding the protected land. Yosemite was declared a national park in 1890.

Yosemite is a Climber’s Paradise

Yosemite is often called the birthplace of rock climbing. There’s good reason, too, because the massive rock walls of Yosemite have hosted world-class climbers, witnessed record-breaking ascents, and pushed mountaineers of all levels to improve their skills. Of course, El Capitan stands alone as the most technical and advanced climb in the park. Tackling El Capitan’s 3,000-foot, sheer, granite face is reserved for the most experienced climbers. Novice climbers or those who prefer some guidance will be happy to know the Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service gets you kitted out and offers a variety of classes to help you achieve your climbing goals.

Yosemite is Home to One of the World’s Tallest Waterfalls

Though plenty of waterfalls call the national park home, it’s Yosemite Falls that is most impressive. The epic 2,425 foot waterfall comprises three separate cascades: Upper Yosemite Falls, the Middle Cascades, and Lower Yosemite Falls. Yosemite Falls is viewable from multiple spots around the park as well as from a selection of trails that jut across Yosemite Valley. Anyone up for a full-day trek can attempt the top of Yosemite Falls hiking trail for the most rewarding views of the falls, valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock.

An image of a waterfall at Yosemite.
Yosemite Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash

Yosemite is Open 24/7

Yosemite hosts 75 percent of its annual visitors in peak season (May through October) for an average six month total of nearly 3 million. Looking to beat the crowds? Consider visiting in the shoulder months like April, when the river is running at full capacity and the falls are especially breathtaking.

Yosemite is Home to the Biggest and Oldest Trees on Earth

Beyond the towering cliff faces and waterfalls, Yosemite finds yet another way to impress. Ancient giant sequoia trees — some 3,000 years old — grow in three groves within the national park: Mariposa Grove (the largest and most popular grove), Tuolumne Grove, and Merced Grove. The park’s most famous tree, “Grizzly Giant,” is one of the largest and oldest (2,700 years) sequoias in Yosemite.

You Can Witness a “Night Rainbow” at Yosemite

Visitors will know that it’s possible to spot a rainbow in the mist surrounding a waterfall on a bright, sunny day. Yosemite goes a step further after the sun sets by offering night owls a chance to see something truly rare — a lunar rainbow. This event happens when light from the moon is so bright that the beams can actually produce a “moonbow” in the dark of night. Tip: The best time for spotting this phenomenon is during a full moon on a clear spring or summer evening.

An image of a night rainbow at Yosemite
Yosemite Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Yosemite was Once a Prominent Hangout for Hippies

Consider this one a bonus! Yosemite’s natural beauty was well-known to the California hippie scene. It was actually transformed into an illegal squatting ground for the counterculture in the summer of 1970, causing quite a stir. The loud music, partying, litter, and illegal campers increased, while the anger and outrage of the park rangers grew. Attempts to clear the meadow escalated into a violent riot, and law enforcement was called to assist, resulting in 174 arrests.

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Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

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