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Nature's Beauty

Timeless Jewel of the Sierra Nevada: Yosemite National Park, Part 1 of 2

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Situated on the central-eastern side of the great state of California, USA, at the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, is the glorious natural creation of Yosemite National Park. The more than 300,000-hectare property is almost entirely devoted to the preservation of some of the most beautiful and pristine wilderness on Earth.

The park’s jaw-dropping geographical features include sheer cliff faces, spectacular waterfalls at high elevations, and U-shaped valleys. In addition to unusual polished dome rock formations, created by erosive water action, there are countless glacial retreats upon the granite bedrock, millions of years in the making. This outstanding geological landscape is also host to alpine mountain meadows, several lakes, three groves of giant sequoia trees, and many other rare and endemic varieties of flora and fauna, contributing to Yosemite National Park’s fame.

The Native Americans who came to settle in the Yosemite area were known as the Yosemite people and called the valley Ah-wah'-nee. The indigenous Yosemite people had legends that account for some of the natural characteristics of their home. The legend of To-Tau-Kon-Nu'-La and Tis-Sa'-Ack recounts the time when the Great Spirit guided his beloved children from El-o'-win (meaning the“West”) into the beautiful valley of Ah-wah'-nee.

The Half Dome of Tis-sa’-ack, a glorious sheer-sided granite monument, is one of the most recognizable land features in the United States. Located at the eastern end of the Yosemite Valley, it rises more than 2,695 meters above sea level, and almost 1,444 meters above the valley floor. Another unforgettable feature of Yosemite National Park is its numerous waterfalls, where the Merced River branches off into tributaries to suddenly and spectacularly descend in some of the highest waterfall drops in the world, more than 600 meters.

There are, altogether, 167 lakes within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park, of varying size and characteristics. The largest is Tenaya Lake, covering approximately 100 acres (40 hectares), and the smallest, at less than two acres (0.8 hectares) in size, is Shamrock Lake. The 3.2-kilometer stretch of the Tuolumne Meadows River valley, which is located to the north of the Yosemite Valley, and the Merced River, is one of the best places on the ground to get a complete sense of the Yosemite National Park.
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