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Yosemite National Park, California Travel Guide

Located in Mariposa and Tuolume County, Yosemite National Park is designated a World Heritage Site, and is internationally known as a distinct and special park known for its biological and geological diversity.

Yosemite was one of the first national parks and is known for its spectacular waterfalls. During the spring, when the snow is beginning to melt, the falls are transformed from trickles to cascades that thunder over enormous blocks of granite. One of the most accessible falls is Yosemite Falls. This waterfall is visible from many viewpoints, including some that are wheelchair accessible. The hike to the top of the falls, however, is not for the faint of heart.

Yosemite is also known for its rock formations. Perhaps the most famous of these are Half Dome, the looming bald peak that has become the most recognizable symbol of Yosemite, and El Capitan which is the largest monolith of granite in the world. These two and a number of other unique formations make Yosemite National Park a rock-climber's paradise.

Yosemite is also home to some of the largest living organisms on earth: the giant sequoias. Related to the coast redwoods found in Muir Woods National Monument, these gigantic trees stretch hundreds of feet into the air and can live to be 3,000 years old! The most easily accessible stand of giant sequoias is the Mariposa Grove. This grove is also the most impressive, with about 500 mature sequoias. From April to November the grove is accessible by car or by a shuttle. A tram tour of the grove is available May through October. More adventurous travelers can also opt for a hike through the forest (maps are available near the parking area). During the winter, Mariposa Grove is open to those willing to ski, snowshoe or hike the two miles from the South Entrance of the park.

Besides its main attractions, Yosemite National Park also offers miles of wilderness for hiking, backpacking, biking, camping and other outdoor activities. The natural splendor of the park is sure to leave an impression, no matter how brief your visit.

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