History of Yosemite National Park

129 years ago, on October 1, 1890, Congress created Yosemite National Park – America’s third national park! Here is a brief history of Yosemite National Park.

Native Americas were the original residents and stewards of the Yosemite Valley, but the 1849 Gold Rush brought in miners, explorers, settlers, and tourists.  Hotels and saloons were soon built, which made it clear that protections were already desperately needed.  In 1864 the Valley and Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias came under the protection of the State of California under President Lincoln.  However, in 1889 naturalist John Muir discovered that the area surrounding the iconic Valley was being exploited and devastated by domestic sheep grazing.  He championed for the 1,500 square miles of land be brought into the young National Park System.  In 1906 the state protected Valley and the grove of Sierra Redwoods came under federal jurisdiction along with the rest of the park.

Yosemite half dome with bare tree in forgroundThe Valley had been known by the indigenous people as Ahwahnee, meaning “big mouth.”  The Ahwahnechee (dwellers in Ahwahnee) occupied the Valley for nearly 3,000 years, though human habitation in the area may have been for as long as 10,000 years.  The name Yosemite means “killer” in Miwok, originally referring to a tribe which was driven out of the area by the American Militia to suppress Native American resistance to the occupation of their historical lands.  The name Yosemite Valley is credited to Lafayette Bunnell, a military physician, after interviewing the displaced Chief Tenaya.

Yosemite’s natural beauty was created by glaciers cutting through granitic rock about a million years ago, carving out steep narrow canyons of bare polished rock, and leaving behind such majestic features as Half Dome and El Capitan. The Tuolumne and Merced River systems, originating in the Park, continue to make their marks on the ever-changing landscape, carving even deeper into the canyons. The Park features one of the world’s tallest waterfalls, three groves of the world’s biggest trees, and contains thousands of lakes and ponds, 1,600 miles of streams, and 800 miles of hiking trails winding through the wilderness.

Visitors to the Park, from John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Ansel Adams to the current 4+ million guests that arrive each year, find nature’s handiwork in Yosemite National Park awe-inspiring, and a little humbling – there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.  Come see it for yourself!  The Groveland Hotel is happy to host you at the northern gateway into the wonder that is Yosemite National Park.  Book Direct for the best deals – and take advantage of our lower winter rates.

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