Yosemite National Park Research Paper

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Yosemite National Park Research Paper



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Snow has been recorded from October to May, although the majority falls from December to March. The snowiest month is January with Mount Desert Island bedrock consists mainly of Cadillac Mountain granite. Perthite gives the granite its pinkish color. The Silurian age granite ranges from to million years ago Mya. Diabase dikes trend north-south through the complex. Almost million years of erosion followed before the deposition of glacial features during the Pleistocene. Glacial polish , glacial striations , and chatter marks are evident in granitic surfaces. Bubble Rock is an example of a glacial erratic. More than Mya, layers of mud, sand and volcanic ash were buried beneath the ocean where high pressure, heat and tectonic activity created a metamorphic rock formation called the Ellsworth Schist.

White and gray quartz , feldspar , and green chlorite comprise the schist, which is the oldest rock in the Mount Desert Island region. Erosion and shifting of tectonic plates eventually brought the schist to the surface. About Mya, an ancient continental fragment , or micro- terrane , called Avalonia collided with North America. The collision buried the schist along with accumulations of sand and silt , creating the Bar Harbor Formation which consists of brown and gray sandstone and siltstone layers.

Material from volcanic flows and ash were also deposited on the formation, creating the volcanic rock found on the Cranberry Islands. Further volcanic activity introduced igneous rocks into the Bar Harbor Formation. As the igneous intrusions cooled, crystallized minerals formed including a gabbro composed of dark, iron-rich minerals. Mount Desert Island granite was created about Mya, with one of the oldest granite bodies being Cadillac Mountain, the largest on the island. The granite body rose slowly through bedrock, fracturing it into large pieces, some of which melted under intense heat.

As the granite cooled, the bedrock fragments were left surrounded by crystallized granite in a shatter zone that is visible on the eastern side of the mountain. A fine-grained, black igneous rock called diabase intruded into the granite during later volcanic activity. Diabase bodies, or dikes, are visible along the Cadillac Mountain road and on the Schoodic Peninsula. During the next several hundred million years, the rock layers that still covered the large granite bodies, along with softer rock surrounding the granite, were worn away by erosion.

During the last two to three million years, a series of ice sheets flowed and receded across northern North America, eroding mountains and creating U-shaped valleys. The mountain range was heavily eroded by the glacier which rounded off mountaintops, carved saddles , deepened valleys, and created the fjard known as Somes Sound, nearly dividing the current island in half.

As the climate warmed, the glaciers melted and receded, leaving boulders that had been carried 20 mi 32 km or further south from their original locations. These boulders, or glacial erratics, lie in valleys and on mountaintops, including Bubble Rock on the South Bubble. The coastal areas of Maine sank slightly under the extreme weight of the ice sheets, allowing seawater to cover lowlands thus forming the present-day islands.

Evidence of sea caves and past beaches can be found about ft 91 m above current sea level. As the ice receded and the land stabilized, lakes and ponds formed in valleys dammed by glacial debris. Rivers and streams flowed again through the watershed, continuing the gradual erosion of the drainage paths. Acadia has a coastline composed of rocky headlands , and more heavily eroded stony or sandy beaches. Coastal areas directly facing the wind-driven waves of the Atlantic Ocean are solely composed of large boulders as all other material has been washed out to sea. Areas partially protected by rocky headlands contain the remains of more eroded rocks, consisting of pebbles, cobbles and smaller boulders. Sheltered coves, such as at Sand Beach, contain fine-grained particles that are primarily the remains of shells and other hard parts of marine life, including mussels and sea urchins.

Granitic ridges are subjected to frost weathering. Joints, or fractures, are slowly enlarged as trapped water repeatedly freezes and melts, eventually splitting off a block. Bright pink scars with granitic rubble below are evidence of such weathering; one example can be seen above the Tarn , a pond just south of Bar Harbor. At least twelve sea caves are located in several coastal areas of the park. Sea caves are formed when waves cause erosion of coastal rock formations.

If a sea cave is enlarged enough, it may break through a headland to form a sea arch. Frequent thawing in winter prevents large accumulations of snow, and keeps the ground well saturated. Ice storms are common in winter and early spring, while rain occurs throughout the year. Saturated soils, thawing, and heavy precipitation lead to rockfalls every spring along Mount Desert Island's loop road, as well as slumping along coastal bluffs.

Mass wasting slope movement of marine clay , deposited when the sea level was much higher, occurs along Hunters Brook on Mount Desert Island. Slumping of the greenish-gray clay destabilized the bank , changing the course of the stream. The eastern end of Otter Cove's beach contains eroded gullies of marine clay. Mass wasting and slope failure may occur wherever marine clay is exposed. Earthquakes with epicenters near the park have caused landslides, damaging roads and trails. Earthquakes in Maine occur at a low but steady rate, with magnitudes usually less than 4. The Presumpscot Formation has yielded a diverse collection of mostly marine fossils. The formation is composed of silt and clay deposited between 15—11, years ago when isostatic loading raised sea level as land was submerged to about — ft — m above the current level.

Post-glacial rebound lowered sea level, exposing the seabed to a depth of about ft 59 m below the current level. A global rise in sea-level flooded the shelf to the current level. Plant fossils include pollen , spores , logs, and other plant macrofossils. Invertebrate fossils include foraminifera protists that form test shells , sponge spicules , bryozoans , bivalves , gastropods , Spirorbis , beetles , ants , barnacles , decapod crustaceans crabs , shrimp , lobsters , etc.

Vertebrate fossils include fish and a few rare large mammals, such as walruses , whales , and a mammoth. Walrus remains have been reported on Andrews Island, 19 mi 31 km west of Isle au Haut; Addison Point , 23 mi 37 km northeast of the Schoodic Peninsula; and Gardiner , 57 mi 92 km west-northwest of Isle au Haut. The mammoth bones were found at Scarborough , 87 mi km southwest of Isle au Haut. The ecological zones at Acadia National Park, from highest to lowest elevation, include: nearly barren mountain summits ; northern boreal and eastern deciduous forests on the mountainsides; freshwater lakes and ponds, as well as wetlands like marshes and swamps in the valleys between mountains; and the Atlantic shoreline with rocky and sandy beaches, intertidal and subtidal zones.

Tiny subalpine plants grow in the granite joints on mountaintops and on the downwind side of rocks. Stunted, gnarled trees also survive near the summits. Spruce - fir boreal forests cover much of the park. Stands of oak , maple , beech , and other hardwoods more typical of New England represent the eastern deciduous forest. Pitch pines and scrub oaks inhabit isolated forests at their northeastern range limit, while jack pines reach the southern limit of their range in Acadia.

Fourteen great ponds and ten smaller ponds provide habitat for many fish and waterfowl species. Marshes and swamps form the transition between terrestrial and aquatic environments, maintaining biodiversity by providing a habitat for a wide range of species. Native wildlife frequent wetlands alongside species that are nesting, overwintering or migrating, such as birds along the Atlantic Flyway. Approximately Intertidal flora and fauna inhabit more than 60 mi 97 km of rocky coastline. Pools of calm water form among the rocks around low tides, inhabited by starfish , dog whelks , blue mussels , sea cucumbers , and rockweed. Flora common to both deciduous and coniferous woodlands include lowbush blueberry , Canadian bunchberry , hobblebush , bluebead lily , Canada mayflower , wild sarsaparilla , shadbush , starflower , rosy twisted stalk , wintergreen , and white pine trees.

Coniferous forest trees include the balsam fir , eastern hemlock , red pine , red spruce , and white spruce. Kuchler types. An invasive insect known as the red pine scale was confirmed on dying red pines on the south side of Norumbega Mountain near Lower Hadlock Pond in Deciduous forest trees include the white ash , big-toothed and trembling aspen , American beech , paper and yellow birch , red oak , American mountain ash , as well as mountain , red , striped , and sugar maples. Other deciduous forest plants include large-leaved aster , chokecherry , red-berried elder , Christmas fern , threeleaf goldthread , early saxifrage , false Solomon's seal , small Solomon's seal , and twinflower.

Trees commonly found in the mountains and dry, rocky places of the national park include gray birch , common juniper , jack pine , and pitch pine , while smaller trees, or shrub, species include green alder and pin cherry. Other common shrubs and flowering plants found in the mountains and rocky areas include alpine aster , bearberry , velvetleaf blueberry , bush-honeysuckle , black chokeberry , three-toothed cinquefoil , mountain cranberry , bracken fern , Rand's goldenrod , harebell , golden heather , mountain holly , black huckleberry , creeping juniper , sheep laurel , red raspberry , Virginia rose , mountain sandwort , bristly sarsaparilla , sweetfern , and wild raisin.

Poverty oatgrass is the most common grass found in mountainous terrain. Bog plants include bog aster , bog rosemary , cottongrass , large cranberry , small cranberry , bog goldenrod , dwarf huckleberry , blue flag , Labrador-tea , bog laurel , leatherleaf , pitcher plant , rhodora , bristly rose , creeping snowberry , round-leaved sundew , spatulate-leaved sundew , and sweetgale , along with larch and black spruce trees. Meadow and roadside plants include speckled alder , flat-topped white aster , New York aster , blue-eyed-grass , azure bluet , spreading dogbane , fireweed , gray goldenrod , rough-stemmed goldenrod , wavy hair-grass , hardhack , whorled loosestrife , tall meadow-rue , meadowsweet , common milkweed , pearly everlasting , wild strawberry , and yellow rattle.

Freshwater marsh and pond plants include common arrowhead , horned bladderwort , highbush blueberry , bluejoint , common cattail , water lobelia , pickerelweed , marsh St. John's wort , swamp candles , swamp rose , white turtlehead , fragrant water-lily , and yellow water-lily. The Mount Desert Island section of the park harbors more than half of the vascular plant species occurring in Maine. The park's wide variety of natural habitats provides homes for many different animal species.

The coastal location also encourages a large number of species; however, the small size and isolation of these habitats from mainland habitats limits the types of animals, especially their size. Smaller animals are better adapted to smaller habitats which makes them more common and easily observed than larger ones such as black bears and moose. The park is inhabited by 37 mammalian species: [57].

Seven reptilian species live in the park including five snakes milk , smooth green , redbelly , eastern garter , and the ring-necked snake and two turtles the common snapping turtle and the eastern painted turtle. Eleven amphibian species inhabit the park including the American toad , five frog species bullfrog , spring peeper , green , pickerel , and wood frog , four salamander species spotted , dusky , northern two-lined , and four-toed salamander , and the eastern newt. The most abundant fish are the American eel , golden shiner , banded killifish , and pumpkinseed , while commonly found fish include alewife , white sucker , northern redbelly dace , chain pickerel non-native , three-spined stickleback , nine-spined stickleback , rainbow smelt , and brook trout.

Thirteen other fish species ten non-native are listed by the NPS as uncommon, while eight other species are listed with an unknown abundance. Many marine species may be observed in the surrounding waters, including seals and whales , from a sea kayak or other personal watercraft, or on ranger-narrated boat cruises. Special whale-watching excursions launch from Bar Harbor. A total of bird species , including migratory birds, are present at some time during the year. An additional species are possibly present but unconfirmed, making a total of potential species.

Thirty-three other bird species are considered historical and no longer present in the park. Large birds include golden and bald eagles , gyrfalcons , turkey vultures , ospreys , cormorants , and various herons , hawks , and owls. Waterfowl species include four geese Canada , brant , snow , and greater white-fronted geese , along with various ducks including mallards , wood ducks , pintails , wigeons , blue-winged and green-winged teals , canvasbacks , buffleheads , eiders , goldeneyes , and harlequin ducks.

Seabirds include terns and four gull species herring , laughing , ring-billed , and great black-backed gulls , while shorebirds include avocets , sandpipers and plovers. Songbirds are represented by various species of blackbirds , chickadees , finches , jays , sparrows , swallows , thrushes , vireos , warblers , and wrens. One of the more unique songbirds is the red crossbill , a finch that uses its crossed mandibles to efficiently extract the seeds from conifer cones, especially those of spruces, hemlocks, and pines. The crossbills feed their young with the same seeds, rather than the insects which other species feed to their chicks. Any given subspecies of the crossbill as many as ten are known in North America will have the same bill size, utilize the same calls to communicate, and prefer certain cones, with smaller-billed birds preferring the smaller cones of hemlocks and larger-billed birds preferring the larger cones of white pines.

In , peregrine falcons had a successful nesting in Acadia for the first time since At least one pair and as many as four pairs have produced offspring over the years since , totaling more than chicks. Many of those chicks were banded to learn about migration, habitat use, and longevity. Banded falcons have been observed as far away as Vermont , Maryland , Washington, D. Beginning in early spring and continuing into mid-summer, certain trails may be closed to avoid disturbance to falcon nesting areas.

Excavations of Native American sites in the Mount Desert Island region have yielded remains of the native mammals. Archeologists have found the bones of wolf, beaver, deer, elk , grey seal Halichoerus grypus , the Indian dog , and the extinct sea mink Neovison macrodon , as well as large numbers of raccoon, lynx, and muskrat. Dorr at the brook between Bubble Pond and Eagle Lake have repopulated it.

The large fire in cleared the eastern half of the island of its coniferous trees and permitted the growth of aspen, birch, alder, maple and other deciduous trees which enabled the beaver to thrive. Motor vehicle touring along the mile 43 km Park Loop Road begins on April 15, if weather permits, and ends on December 1, unless significant snowfall closes it sooner. A two-mile 3. The coastline can be explored on guided boat trips or by sea kayak. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on accessible lakes and ponds.

Ranger-led programs from mid-May to mid-October introduce visitors to the park's diverse natural and cultural history. Park rangers offer short walks, longer hikes, boat cruises, evening amphitheater programs, and children's programs, as well as viewing of peregrine falcons and raptors. Winter activities include hiking on trails using snowshoes , or traction footwear, and trekking poles , cross-country skiing on carriage roads, snowmobiling on the paved loop road, and ice fishing on frozen ponds and lakes.

Seawall Campground is on the less crowded west side of the island. The park hosts the annual Acadia Night Sky Festival , attracting speakers, researchers, photographers, and artists to the area. Park attendance increased to 3. The seasonal nature of the park means a concentration of visitors in the summer months that is beyond the capacity of park infrastructure. Congestion leads to lack of available parking and gridlock , requiring road closures.

Much of Yosemite's western boundary has habitats dominated by mixed coniferous forests of ponderosa pine , sugar pine , incense cedar , white fir , Douglas fir , and a few stands of giant sequoia, interspersed by areas of black oak and canyon live oak. A relatively high diversity of wildlife species is supported by these habitats, because of relatively mild, lower-elevation climate and the mixture of habitat types and plant species.

Wildlife species typically found in these habitats include black bear , coyote , raccoon , mountain kingsnake , Gilbert's skink , white-headed woodpecker , bobcat , river otter , gray fox , red fox , brown creeper , two species of skunk, cougar , spotted owl , and a wide variety of bat species. Going higher in elevation, the coniferous forests become purer stands of red fir , western white pine , Jeffrey pine , lodgepole pine , and the occasional foxtail pine. Fewer wildlife species tend to be found in these habitats, because of their higher elevation and lower complexity. Species likely to be found include golden-mantled ground squirrel , chickaree , fisher , Steller's jay , hermit thrush , and northern goshawk.

Reptiles are not common, but include rubber boa , western fence lizard , and northern alligator lizard. As the landscape rises, trees become smaller and more sparse, with stands broken by areas of exposed granite. These include lodgepole pine, whitebark pine , and mountain hemlock that, at highest elevations, give way to vast expanses of granite as treeline is reached. The climate in these habitats is harsh and the growing season is short, but species such as pika , yellow-bellied marmot , white-tailed jackrabbit , Clark's nutcracker , and black rosy finch are adapted to these conditions. Also, the treeless alpine habitats are the areas favored by Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. This species, however, is now found in the Yosemite area only around Tioga Pass, where a small, reintroduced population exists.

At a variety of elevations, meadows provide important, productive habitat for wildlife. Animals come to feed on the green grasses and use the flowing and standing water found in many meadows. Predators, in turn, are attracted to these areas. The interface between meadow and forest is also favored by many animal species because of the proximity of open areas for foraging and cover for protection. Species that are highly dependent upon meadow habitat include great grey owl , willow flycatcher , Yosemite toad , and mountain beaver.

The black bears of Yosemite were once famous for breaking into parked cars to steal food. They were also an encouraged tourist sight for many years at the park's garbage dumps, where bears congregated to eat park visitors' garbage and tourists gathered to photograph the bears. Increasing encounters between bears and humans and increasing damage to property led to an aggressive campaign to discourage bears from relying on human food or interacting with people and their property. The open-air dumps were closed; all trash receptacles were replaced with bear-proof receptacles; all campgrounds were equipped with bear-proof food lockers so that people would not leave food in their vehicles, which were easy targets for the powerful and resourceful bears.

Because bears who show aggression towards people usually are eventually destroyed, park personnel have continued to come up with innovative ways to have bears associate humans and their property with unpleasant experiences, such as being hit with rubber bullets. Today, [ when? Despite the richness of high-quality habitats in Yosemite, the brown bear , California condor , and least Bell's vireo have become extinct in the park within historical time, [] and another 37 species currently have special status under either California or federal endangered species legislation. The most serious current threats to Yosemite's wildlife and the ecosystems they occupy include loss of a natural fire regime, exotic species , air pollution, habitat fragmentation , and climate change.

On a more local basis, factors such as road kills and the availability of human food have affected some wildlife species. Yosemite National Park has documented more than non-native plant species within park boundaries. These non-native plants were introduced into Yosemite following the migration of early Euro-American settlers in the late s. Natural and human-caused disturbances, such as wildland fires and construction activities, have contributed to a rapid increase in the spread of non-native plants. A number of these species aggressively invade and displace the native plant communities, resulting in impacts on the park's resources.

Non-native plants can bring about significant changes in park ecosystems by altering the native plant communities and the processes that support them. Some non-native species may cause an increase in the fire frequency of an area or increase the available nitrogen in the soil that may allow more non-native plants to become established. Many non-native species, such as yellow star thistle Centaurea solstitialis , are able to produce a long tap root that allows them to out-compete the native plants for available water. Bull thistle Cirsium vulgare , common mullein Verbascum thapsus , and Klamath weed Hypericum perforatum have been identified as noxious pests in Yosemite since the s.

Additional species that have been recognized more recently as aggressive and requiring control are yellow star thistle Centaurea solstitialis , sweet clover Melilot spp. Increasing ozone pollution is causing tissue damage to the massive giant sequoia trees in the park, making them more vulnerable to insect infestation and disease. Since the cones of these trees require fire-touched soil to germinate , historic fire suppression has reduced these trees' ability to reproduce.

The current policy of setting prescribed fires is expected to help the germination issue. Forest fires seasonally clear the park of dead vegetation, making way for new growth. During late July and early August, , sections of the park, including the Valley, were temporarily closed due to the Ferguson Fire at its western boundary. Yosemite Valley is open year-round and numerous activities are available through the National Park Service , Yosemite Conservancy, and Aramark at Yosemite, including nature walks, photography and art classes, stargazing programs, tours, bike rentals, rafting, mule and horseback rides, and rock climbing classes. Many people enjoy short walks and longer hikes to waterfalls in Yosemite Valley, or walks among giant sequoias in the Mariposa, Tuolumne, or Merced Groves.

Others like to drive or take a tour bus to Glacier Point summer—fall to see views of Yosemite Valley and the high country, or drive along the scenic Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows May—October and go for a walk or hike. Most park visitors stay just for the day, and visit only those locations within Yosemite Valley that are easily accessible by automobile.

A free shuttle bus system operates year-round in the valley, and park rangers encourage people to use this system since parking within the valley during the summer is often nearly impossible to find. In addition to exploring the natural features of the park, visitors can also learn about the natural and cultural history of Yosemite Valley at a number of facilities in the valley: the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, the adjoining Yosemite Museum, and the Nature Center at Happy Isles.

Camp 4 was added to the National Register of Historic Places in In the winter, it is snowed in, but the area of Tuolumne Meadows has a great deal of hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing ; see also the highest mountains of Yosemite National Park. Over miles 1, km of trails are available to hikers [8] —everything from an easy stroll to a challenging mountain hike, or an overnight backpack trip. One of the most popular trails leads to the summit of Half Dome and requires an advance permit from Memorial Day weekend in late May, to Columbus Day in early October.

Park rangers encourage visitors to experience portions of the park in addition to Yosemite Valley. Between late spring and early fall, much of the park can be accessed for multiple-day backpacking trips. All overnight trips into the back country require a wilderness permit [] and most require approved bear-resistant food storage. While some locations in Yosemite require hiking, other locations can be reached via automobile transportation. Driving locations also allow guests to observe the night sky in locations other than their campsite or lodge.

All of the roads in Yosemite are scenic, but the most famous is the Tioga Road, typically open from late May or early June through November. As an alternative to driving, bicycles are allowed on the roads. However, bicycles are allowed off-road on only 12 miles 19 km of paved trails in Yosemite Valley itself; mountain biking is not allowed. Rock climbing is an important part of Yosemite. Camp 4 , a walk-in campground in the Valley, was instrumental in the development of rock climbing as a sport, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Classes on rock climbing are offered by numerous groups. Yosemite Valley is open all year, although some roads within the park close in winter. Downhill skiing is available at the Badger Pass Ski Area —the oldest downhill skiing area in California, offering downhill skiing from mid-December through early April. The Bracebridge dinner is an annual holiday event, held since at the Ahwahnee Hotel, inspired by Washington Irving 's descriptions of Squire Bracebridge and English Christmas traditions of the 18th century in his Sketch Book.

Between and , the show was organized by Ansel Adams. Bicycle rentals are available in Yosemite Valley spring through fall. Over 12 miles 19 km of paved bike paths are available in Yosemite Valley. In addition, bicyclists can ride on regular roads. Helmets are required by law for children under 18 years of age. Off-trail riding and mountain biking are not permitted in Yosemite National Park.

Water activities are plentiful during warmer months. Rafting can be done through the Yosemite Valley on the Merced River. There are also swimming pools available at Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village. This small waterfall usually flows only during winter and is easy to miss. On rare occasions during mid- to late February, it can glow orange when it's backlit by sunset. This unique lighting effect happens only on evenings with a clear sky when the waterfall is flowing. Even some haze or minor cloudiness can greatly diminish or eliminate the effect.

Although entirely natural, the phenomenon is reminiscent of the human-caused Firefall that historically occurred from Glacier Point. Films such as The Last of the Mohicans and Maverick have also been shot here. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. National Park in California, United States. For other uses, see Yosemite disambiguation. Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View.

Main article: History of the Yosemite area. Paiute ceremony Lafayette Bunnell gave Yosemite Valley its name. Vernal Fall c. The Wawona Hotel Early settler, Galen Clark. Main article: Geography of the Yosemite area. Main article: Geology of the Yosemite area. Further information: List of Yosemite destinations. Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Yosemite National Park U. National Park Service. Retrieved July 22, Retrieved April 30, Random House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. California Office of Tourism. October 13, Archived from the original on January 25, Retrieved January 27, Retrieved March 15, Retrieved March 11, Sierra Sun Times.

Retrieved February 8, Retrieved October 4, Journal of the American Name Society. Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness. University of Nebraska Press. Chapter 1. ISBN April 29, Great Outdoor Recreation Pages. Archived from the original on May 28, Retrieved May 27, Retrieved July 23, Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation. Archived from the original on October 5, July The Yosemite Web. Retrieved April 14, Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved September 10, Yosemite Indians. Retrieved August 26, Pacific Historical Review. ISSN JSTOR National Park Service ". Retrieved March 1, University of Virginia. Mundus Bishop for National Park Service. August Some visitors arrive via airports at Sacramento miles southeast and Reno miles south.

Access Yosemite from four entrances. Most visitors focus on central Yosemite Valley , which has most of the lodging and facilities, as well as scenic roadside viewpoints of iconic landmarks, including El Capitan, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Because of this, it can get crowded during the summer high season, with excessive traffic, limited parking and lodging, and packed paths and viewpoints. Consider visiting in the off-seasons to avoid crowds and to get a different perspective of the park. Spring in Yosemite brings the largest waterfall volume and river flows, while fall boasts vibrant, colorful foliage in the valley, and winter provides a wonderland of silent, snow-covered meadows and mountain peaks.

A free shuttle bus system within the park travels three routes: the main road loop within Yosemite Valley; between the South Visitor Center and the Mariposa Grove of sequoias; and a link between the Valley and Tuolumne Meadows in the park's northern section. Four YARTS routes access the four entrances with regularly scheduled service from several gateway cities and hotels. Cellphone and GPS coverage in the park is limited, so bring a paper map available at all entrances to help avoid getting lost without signal. Wi-Fi is available for guests at Yosemite hotels, as well as to the public at Degnan's Kitchen cafeteria in the Valley, and the park's two Mariposa County Library branches. Yosemite has four diverse seasons of weather, and all four can happen in one day, given changing mountain conditions, so dress in layers.

Summer temperatures can top degrees at lower elevations in the valley and around Hetch Hetchy reservoir; winter brings lows in the 20s, sometimes with deep snow and road closures. You have plenty of lodging choices in and around the park, but reserve far in advance of the summer season, when accommodations fill quickly. For your money, you get a slew of amenities, including a window-lined, chandelier-topped grand dining hall serving classic prime rib dinners and its Great Lounge, with soft couches, a roaring fire and a classical pianist — a fine spot for cognac-sipping after a day outdoors.

Take your pick of accommodations at Curry Village , a lodging hub at Half Dome Village with canvas tent cabins shared bath facilities , 61 cabins and 18 motel rooms. Purchase groceries and essentials at its market and dine at nearby restaurants, including Meadow Grill breakfast burritos, burgers, rice bowls and salads and Pizza Patio. Tuolumne Meadows Lodge , in Yosemite's central highlands, provides a base camp for hikers during summer with canvas-tented cabins and a tented dining hall serving hearty family-style meals. Families and groups often favor the sprawling Yosemite Valley Lodge, a room complex near the base of Yosemite Falls, for its affordable prices and larger-sized family and bunk rooms.

Feast on steak and seafood and great views of the falls in its Mountain Room, while a food court serves up cafeteria-style cheap eats and a Starbucks. Note: closed for upgrades until summer For self-catering and extended stays, Scenic Wonders books more than vacation rentals in and just outside the park — everything from rustic cabins and basic condo units to five-bedroom luxury homes. Yosemite is a mecca for campers with 1, individual campsites at 15 campgrounds in large, sparsely wooded encampments in the valley and more remote high-country creek and lakeside retreats.

But don't procrastinate: Campgrounds typically get booked solid for the summer — reserve at recreation. The park permits RVs at nine campgrounds, none with hookups. Note: Be very aware when camping; always store food securely to avoid encounters with Yosemite's voracious natives. In addition to the dining at Yosemite lodging mentioned above, you can stop at Degnan's Kitchen in Yosemite Village for cafeteria food and snacks, with the BBQ-and-beer Loft above it.

From easily accessible roadside viewpoints and short, flat and mostly wheelchair-accessible paved paths in Yosemite Valley, gaze at the towering city-sized boulder that is Half Dome, nervously watch the climbers hanging from El Capitan's 3,foot-tall sheer cliffs and admire the cool, cascading waters of Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall. In the park's southern edge, take a shuttle bus to walk a smooth boardwalk among giant sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove. The ultimate roadside Valley viewpoint? The Tunnel View parking lot by Route 41 north of Wawona.

Overlooking the falls, Half Dome and El Capitan, it's a perspective impressive enough to bring out the inner Ansel Adams from even the most jaded city dwellers. Go sightseeing beyond the Valley and you'll discover more spectacular scenery. In northern Yosemite, see the shimmering waters of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and walk atop its towering dam. The Tuolumne Meadows area in Yosemite's central highlands boasts fields of wildflowers and the high-alpine Tenaya Lake, with white-sand beaches fronting its frigid blue waters.

In the Crane Flat area in the park's western edge, escape the crowds for the lesser-visited Merced and Tuolumne sequoia groves and forest paths. Note: The popular road to Glacier Point sightseeing spots is closed through for repairs. Hiking and other active pursuits: With miles of trails, the park offers nearly infinite hiking opportunities. Whether you're backcountry camping in the harsh high alpine or taking a half-hour stroll through flat meadows, it's worth the effort to branch off from the paved paths of Yosemite Valley, but know your limits and be aware of changing weather conditions.

Day hikes in Yosemite Valley and Tulomne Meadows are moderately difficult but rewarding ways to escape the crowds. The uphill climb can be a workout at the 4,foot elevation, but the wide, paved path is accessible to anyone of reasonable fitness. You'll be rewarded for the effort with prime views of the roaring Merced River and Vernal Fall at the bridge, where restrooms and water are available. The motivated can continue another steep three-quarters of a mile to the top of the falls, then onward six miles to Half Dome.

In Tuolumne Meadows, hike the easy 1. Artists and naturalists present summer seminars at the stone Parsons Memorial Lodge at the trail's end. Aside from hiking, biking the 12 miles of flat paved trails around Yosemite Valley is probably the best way to access the most scenic viewpoints and facilities at your own pace. From Wawona Stables, hop on a horse or mule for a two-hour guided tour.

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