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  • In the heart of California's rugged Sierra Nevada

  • sits Yosemite National Park.

  • From soaring cliffs and giant waterfalls,

  • to enormous trees and tranquil meadows,

  • Yosemite is a landscape of diversity.

  • The park is the destination for millions of visitors each year,

  • and with some of the finest scenery in the world,

  • it's easy to understand why.

  • Humans are dwarfed by a scale and power

  • that can only be found in the natural world.

  • Trees that live for thousands of years,

  • waterfalls that fall hundreds of feet,

  • and granite walls that climb unbroken

  • for more than a half mile.

  • In Yosemite, these features have combined

  • to create a landscape like no other.

  • At over 1,000 square miles,

  • an entire lifetime could be spent

  • exploring Yosemite National Park.

  • 95% of the Yosemite is designated wilderness,

  • free from roads and cars

  • and crossed with hundreds of miles of trails.

  • Outside of these wilderness areas,

  • highways enter Yosemite from the West and South,

  • while inside the park,

  • the Tioga Road crosses over the mountains

  • to the Eastern Sierra.

  • These roads provide access

  • to many different areas in Yosemite.

  • In the center lies Yosemite Valley,

  • the primary destination for nearly all park visitors.

  • Half Dome,

  • Yosemite Falls,

  • El Capitan,

  • all of these features and more

  • are found in Yosemite Valley.

  • And this is one of the most dramatic examples

  • of a glacially carved canyon

  • and its towering cliffs and thundering waterfalls

  • are among the tallest in the world.

  • Beginning in the high mountains,

  • the Merced River tumbles dramatically

  • into Yosemite Valley.

  • While on the valley floor,

  • it winds its way through meadows and forest.

  • The exceptional scenery known throughout the world

  • help to inspire the very idea of national parks.

  • To many visitors,

  • Yosemite Valley is the heart of Yosemite National Park,

  • but at just 7 square miles,

  • the Valley is only one part of a much bigger place.

  • High above the valley floor,

  • Glacier Point sits on the South rim of Yosemite Valley.

  • The Glacier Point road winds its way

  • through stunning mountain scenery

  • a short walk provides a bird's eye view of Yosemite Valley,

  • thousands of feet below.

  • To the East lies Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon,

  • while beyond the Valley,

  • vast forest dominate the Yosemite landscape;

  • sugar pine,

  • red fir,

  • Ponderosa.

  • Within Yosemite, some of these trees are the largest

  • and tallest of their kind,

  • but in three distinct groves,

  • stand towering giant sequoias;

  • the biggest trees in the world.

  • At the Southwestern corner of the park

  • lies the largest and more accessible,

  • the Mariposa Grove.

  • This is home to some of the largest trees on earth

  • and to be among these giants is a humbling experience.

  • These big trees inspired protection of Yosemite

  • nearly 150 years ago,

  • and they still inspire visitors today.

  • The Mariposa Grove is one of the finest forests in the world and

  • a visit here is an important part of the Yosemite experience.

  • While the Western slopes are covered with ancient forest,

  • the high peaks on the East side of Yosemite

  • present a very different landscape.

  • North of Yosemite Valley

  • the Tioga Road winds through wonderland of rock

  • on its way to Tuolumne Meadows in the Yosemite high country.

  • Along the way, the road passes on Olmsted Point

  • where visitors enjoy an interesting view of Half Dome.

  • Around the corner lies Tenaya Lake;

  • one of the largest and most accessible lakes in Yosemite

  • and the perfect place to spend a summer afternoon.

  • Over the hill from Tenaya Lake, sits Tuolumne Meadows.

  • Like Yosemite Valley, this land was sculpted by glaciers,

  • but instead of a deep canyon,

  • the moving ice formed sharp peaks and rounded domes.

  • The wide open scenery of Tuolumne Meadows

  • is very different from other areas of the park

  • and many of the plants animals found here

  • are unlike those at lower elevations.

  • Tuolumne Meadows is a gateway to the Yosemite wilderness and

  • there are dozens of trails that lead into the mountains.

  • While some will enjoy short walks

  • that may last only an hour,

  • others will begin hikes that can take days or weeks.

  • A permit is required for overnight visits

  • and backpackers must carry many pounds of food and equipment,

  • but for those that are willing and able,

  • nothing can compare to spending in these mountains.

  • In this Alpine wonderland,

  • nature has been reduced to the elemental

  • rock and ice,

  • sky and water.

  • This is Yosemite at its most basic

  • and a visit here offers the chance for solitude

  • and inspiration,

  • as well as excitement and adventure.

  • The more time you spend exploring Yosemite National Park

  • the more likely you are to experience change in Yosemite.

  • In the fall, Yosemite Valley is an explosion of color,

  • as the shadows lengthen and the days grow shorter.

  • By the New Year, the mountains are blanketed in white

  • and the park is transformed into a winter wonderland.

  • As temperatures drop, waterfalls can become ice-falls.

  • Usually, winter is a quite time in Yosemite,

  • but when spring comes,

  • the park will experience its biggest change.

  • While the high peaks and passes

  • are still buried deep under snow,

  • the lower elevations are a carpet of wild flowers.

  • This migrating bloom will last throughout the summer

  • as it slowly works its way up the mountain slope.

  • As temperatures rise, the snow begins to melt

  • and quiet waterfalls are brought back to life.

  • By early summer, the sound of water thunders

  • throughout the park.

  • These high flows may last for months, but by summer's end,

  • the rivers have calmed.

  • Some creeks and streams will stop running completely

  • and even Yosemite Falls can run dry.

  • Exploring a landscape as dynamic as Yosemite National Park

  • is very rewarding

  • but the natural forces that make the park so compelling

  • can also present some very real dangers.

  • Water is one of Yosemite's biggest detractions.

  • Generated from melting snow, the water here is cold and swift,

  • especially in the springtime.

  • Visitors must respect all warning signs

  • and realize that wet rocks along streams

  • and rivers can be very slick.

  • Do not go beyond fences or railings

  • and never swim in swift water or above waterfalls.

  • Even with all this water, it's important to remember

  • that Yosemite can also be hot and dry.

  • Protect yourself from the sun,

  • which is more intense at higher elevations

  • and carry and drink plenty of water.

  • Know your limits and always keep safety in mind

  • as you experience your Yosemite.

  • The mission of the National Park Service

  • is to protect the park for future generations,

  • while providing enjoyment to today's visitors.

  • This protection makes Yosemite a great place

  • to see diverse wildlife in its native habitat.

  • To further protect wildlife and yourself,

  • do not feed or approach any animal.

  • For the protection of black bears,

  • visitors are required to store all food,

  • garbage, and scented items properly.

  • Protecting wildlife also means driving with care.

  • Hundreds of animals, from squirrels to bears,

  • are struck and killed by cars each year.

  • Mountain roads are often narrow and winding

  • and driving conditions can change rapidly.

  • In the winter, snow and ice can make driving difficult

  • and four-wheel drive and chain restrictions

  • are often in effect.

  • In the summer, traffic and congestion,

  • especially in Yosemite Valley,

  • can bring cars to a standstill.

  • If you park your car,

  • you will find that there are many other ways

  • to experience Yosemite National Park.

  • In the valley, the easiest way to get around

  • is on the Yosemite shuttle.

  • These free buses run throughout the day

  • and they stop at nearly every point of interest

  • in Yosemite Valley.

  • In addition to buses,

  • bicycles are a great way to explore Yosemite.

  • Miles of bike paths wind through the valley

  • and rental bikes are available throughout the summer.

  • For those who are looking for more activity,

  • Yosemite is a hiker's paradise.

  • In the valley,

  • a short trail leads to the base of Yosemite Falls,

  • while the popular Mist Trail follows the Merced River

  • up to spectacular Vernal and Nevada Falls.

  • In Tuolumne Meadows, mountain peaks and alpine lakes

  • are all within a day's walk.

  • While in Mariposa Grove, many will visit the Grizzly Giant;

  • one of the largest trees in Yosemite.

  • Throughout the park,

  • hundreds of miles of trails await your discovery.

  • If you are inspired to learn more about Yosemite,

  • join a ranger led walk.

  • Free ranger programs are given daily

  • and they are a great way to make a deeper connection

  • to Yosemite National Park.

  • No matter which part of Yosemite you choose to explore,

  • a good place to start is at a Visitor Center.

  • In the valley, an exhibit hall

  • tells the story of Yosemite's geologic past

  • as well as its rich natural and human history

  • while in the theater, the film Spirit of Yosemite

  • presents a dramatic overview of the park.

  • At the nearby Indian village,

  • visitors can learn about the first people of Yosemite Valley

  • and exhibits and demonstrations at the Indian Cultural Museum

  • provide a window to the past.

  • Near the Mariposa Grove, the Wawona Hotel and Golf Course

  • reminds us of the early years of Yosemite National Park,

  • while the nearby Pioneer Yosemite History Center

  • brings the past to life.

  • A blacksmith's hammer and a horse-drawn coach

  • transports us to the days of log cabins

  • and covered bridges.

  • It's no wonder that so many visitors are drawn

  • to Yosemite National Park.

  • From high peaks and deep canyons,

  • to ancient forests and open meadows,

  • the diversity of the natural world is on clear display.

  • Making a connection to Yosemite National Park

  • requires only one thing,

  • your presence.

  • Have a safe visit and help us protect this special place

  • as you experience your Yosemite.

  • [Music]

[Music]

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Experience Your Yosemite

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2013/08/28
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