Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Sierra Nevada mountains in east-central California. Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, and biological diversity.
The 750,000-acre, 1,200 square-mile park contains thousands of lakes and ponds, 1600 miles of streams, 800 miles of hiking trails, and 350 miles of roads. It is currently the third most visited national park in the United States, with an annual visitation of nearly 4 million. The park celebrated its 150th anniversary this year.
Yosemite National Park lies in the heart of California. With its 'hanging' valleys, many waterfalls, cirque lakes, polished domes, moraines and U-shaped valleys, it provides an excellent overview of all kinds of granite relief fashioned by glaciation. At 600¨C4,000 m, a great variety of flora and fauna can also be found here.
Yosemite National Park, on the west slope of the central Sierra Nevada Mountains, is an area of outstanding scenic beauty and great wilderness value. The park represents practically all the different environments found within the Sierra Nevada, including sequoia groves, historic resources, evidence of Indian habitation, and domes, valleys, polished granites and other geological features illustrating the formation of the mountain range.
The park is dominated by the Sierra Nevada, which is a tilted granite area. Granite underlies most of the park and is exposed as domes, partial domes, knobs and cliffs. There is exceptionally glaciated topography over most of the area including the spectacular Yosemite Valley, a 914 m deep cleft carved by glaciers through a gently rolling upland. The valley is a widened portion of the prevailing narrow Merced River canyon which traverses the southern sector of the park from east to west.
The massive sheer granite walls present a freshly glaciated appearance with little postglacial erosion. The park is known for its many waterfalls, including the Yosemite Falls and Ribbon Falls, and some 300 lakes, including Emerald and Merced. Other notable canyons in the park are the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River and the Tenaya Canyon. There are also two major rivers.