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  • Yosemite Mariposa, California
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    Yosemite Mariposa,

    California

    Rakshith Hatwar / Unsplash

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    Yosemite National Park is an American national park in California, surrounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 759,620 acres (1,187 sq mi) and sits in four counties – centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County.

    Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

    The geology of the Yosemite area is characterized by granite rocks and remnants of older rock. About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in the formation of deep, narrow canyons. About one million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet during the early glacial episode. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today.

    Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Yosemite Grant in 1864. Yosemite now draws about four million visitors each year, and most visitors spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley.

    The park began requiring reservations to access the park during peak periods starting in 2020 as a response to the rise in visitors.

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