Ansel Adams said it best.

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”

Though Yosemite National Park was officially created when President Benjamin Harrison signed it into legislation on October 1, 1890, the history of Yosemite Valley greatly precedes this particular moment in history. A longtime home to the Ahwahnechee (it is estimated that they lived in the valley for almost 7,000 years before the park was established), the valley was once populated by tribes who would hunt, gather, and build their dwellings in the spectacular setting we know today as Yosemite.

Years passed and Yosemite became a famed destination. From the musings of John Muir to Ansel Adams’ stunning documentary photographs of the valley to Alex Honnold’s daring (and ropeless) three-hour ascent of El Capitan, Yosemite has proven itself a place of history, natural beauty, outdoor exploration, and sheer wonder.

Fast Facts

  • Located in: California
  • Established: October 1, 1890
  • Number of visitors: 5 million in 2016
  • Etymology: Yosemite means “killer” in the Miwok Native American language
  • Height of Half Dome: 4,737 ft (1,444 m)
  • Fun fact: A report from 1865 notes that Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s famed granite formations, was “perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of the prominent points about the Yosemite [Valley] which never has been, and never will be, trodden by human foot.” Climber George Anderson would reach the summit only 10 years later.
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