Discover Yosemite National Park

The bare stone of Lembert Dome is lit by alpenglow and reflected in a lake.

Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows. Photo © Tom Grundy.

Plunging waterfalls, stark granite, alpine lakes, pristine meadows, giant sequoia trees, and raging rivers — you’ll find them all in Yosemite National Park. From Yosemite Valley’s famous waterfalls, which are ranked among the tallest in the world, to the towering granite domes and glistening meadows of Tioga Pass, Yosemite is a place that can only be described in superlatives. At 1,169 square miles and 750,000 acres, the park is nearly the size of Rhode Island and one of the most popular national parks in the United States, visited by more than 3.5 million people each year.

From rock climbing to horseback riding, from camping to hiking, the vast majority of Yosemite travelers come to this park to play outside in its mountain landscape.Set aside as a national park in 1890, Yosemite is a place that is synonymous with scenery. The seven-mile-long Yosemite Valley is known the world over as an incomparable natural wonder, with its 3,000- foot granite walls and leaping waterfalls. It is estimated that more than half of the park’s visitors see only Yosemite Valley when they travel to Yosemite, even though the Valley makes up less than one percent of the park. Beyond the Valley lies the pristine high country of Tioga Pass Road and Tuolumne Meadows’ subalpine expanse, bordered by precipitous mountain summits and granite domes. To the northwest lies Hetch Hetchy, a reservoir in a valley considered to be a twin of Yosemite Valley. To the south is Glacier Point with its picture-postcard vistas, and the marvels of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias—the largest living trees on earth.

In addition to all its scenic wonders, Yosemite is a park that is ideally suited for outdoor recreation. From rock climbing to horseback riding, from camping to hiking, the vast majority of Yosemite travelers come to this park to play outside in its mountain landscape. With more than 800 miles of paths to walk, hikers can choose from short-and-easy jaunts to world-class destinations like Sentinel Dome and Vernal Fall, intense treks to the summits of Half Dome or Clouds Rest, or a wealth of moderate trails in between the two extremes.

Last but certainly not least, Yosemite is a park for nature study. Whether you are captivated by the secrets of its glacier-carved rocks, the poetry of the evening light on Half Dome, or the adorable antics of a chipmunk at your campsite, you’ll find that a visit to Yosemite sparks a deep sense of curiosity and wonder about the natural world. It has done so for as long as humans have inhabited its landscape; it will continue to do so for as long as we continue to preserve and protect it.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Yosemite.


Maps of Yosemite

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