Yosemite National Park wasn’t the first National Park in America, but it was the first federally protected land. In 1864 Abraham Lincoln set aside the Yosemite Grant to the State of California.
Yellowstone later became the first National Park because the land fell into three territories that weren’t yet states. Yosemite was a state park until John Muir (a wilderness deity in California) and others advocated for it to become a National Park in 1890, for additional protection. It became the fifth National Park.
We camped at Yosemite Lakes RV Park (a Thousand Trails Campground), about 5 miles outside the entrance to the park. The day that we arrived at our campsite, Yosemite Valley was closed. There was a two-day rain storm and the park predicted flooding. It was closed for about a day and a half. When we went into the valley a day later, the water had receded, but it was still a bit soggy.
From the rain, and the spring snow melt, the Merced river was rushing, and the waterfalls were flowing fast.
The sheer granite cliffs make Yosemite National Park a world famous place for rock climbing and strenuous hiking, but we sought out some easier hikes.
We hiked about a 5 mile loop around Mirror Lake. The section of the trail to the lake was really crowded, but it thinned out after we got on the longer loop.
We heard from another hiker that a section of the trail was underwater, and we would have to scramble over some rocks to continue. It turned out to be about a half an hour of climbing over rocks and fallen trees, through the woods next to the trail, that was under about a foot of water. It made the hike a lot more interesting.
The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is within Yosemite National Park and is the primary water source for the city of San Francisco, and produces clean hydroelectric energy. It is controversial, because the Hetch Hetchy Valley was once similar to Yosemite Valley, and even though it was part of a National Park at the time, it was flooded to create the reservoir.
We went to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and hiked over the dam and around the reservoir until the trail ended at a damaged bridge, about 5 miles round trip. The plants near the cliffs were so interesting. The trail was a little soggy, and at times turned into a creek.
In Yosemite Valley, we went on a Ranger Walk and learned about acorn woodpeckers, who store acorns in holes they make in dead trees, turning them into granary trees. We liked the Ranger, who is getting a masters degree in Park Member Experience. That sounds interesting, especially as the National Parks keep getting more crowded.
The south section is the historical heart of the park. There are old log buildings and a covered bridge from Yosemite’s pioneer history. There is also a grove of Sequoias, but it was closed for repairs.
Even though we visited in April, before the summer rush, there were a lot of people there. Visitors all concentrate in the Yosemite Valley, which is only 6 square miles, so it did feel crowded.
Yosemite National Park is very obviously beautiful. We enjoyed hiking there, and gawking at the cliffs and tall waterfalls.
Day 563| Mile 60,215