Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles [Music] 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.