Yosemite is the crown jewel of the US National Parks. The birth of Yosemite National Park began millions of years ago. In fact, 500 million years ago, this area was under the sea. The entire Sierra Nevada
mountain range was lifted up out of the deep oceans when the Pacific
plate slid under the North American plate. Heat and pressure deep within
the earth caused the Pacific plate to melt into magma. The magma cooled
and what rose above the seas surface was a huge block of granite rock.
About a million years ago this particular National Park was covered with snow and ice. This ice became know as the ice age.
The ice that was here was 4,000 feet thick. As the ice melted, it cut into the granite rock and huge glaciers emerged. And now Yosemite National Park is the crown jewel in the US National Park system.
Now the Sierra Nevada mountain range is shaped by domes, slopes and canyons. As the snow melts, lakes are filled with water. Yosemite National Park has approximately 429 lakes, 2 reservoirs and 1,700 miles of rivers and streams.
Waterfalls are formed when the snow melts and the water spills over the edges of this incredible mountain range. Yosemite is known for its high concentration of waterfalls in a small area. People travel from around the world to see Yosemite's spectacular waterfalls. The waterfalls are at their greatest peak during the months of April, May and June.
People often ask me why the waterfalls dry up at the end of summer. The reason is because the soil that is on top of the falls is full of gravel and it does not hold ground water for long. Also, rivers do not feed Yosemite waterfalls, snow melt does.
The tallest waterfall in all of North America is Yosemite Falls. It is 2,425 feet tall. During the snow melting season (April, May and June), Yosemite National Park is home to hundreds of waterfalls. I do see some last all year long. But most last for a few days to a few weeks at a time.
Just like most US National Parks, what you see, isn't always the entire picture. Yosemite valley only makes up 5% of Yosemite. The rest of the land is wilderness. In order to see and experience the wilderness you need to drive up to Glacier Point or go hiking. The wilderness of Yosemite is where the crowds don't go. It's quite, peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful.
My interesting fact: Yosemite has served and continues to serve as a workshop and training school for map makers, geologists, engineers and conservationist. Yosemite is the perfect place to apply lessons learned for these kind of occupations!
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