Yosemite National Park
If you’ve read our last two blogs on our California road trip (if not read part one and part two here) or been following our Instagram, you’ll know we spent some time this Summer over in America and visited Yosemite. It’s a place we’ve always wanted to go and even though we’ve seen it many times on films and in photos, we never imagined it would be as incredible in real life – the scale of everything, from the flowing waterfalls and rivers to the mountains so big you find yourself constant tipping your head all the way back to see the top. We know we only touched on our visit in our last blog so wanted to dedicate a little more time to telling you more about Yosemite Valley and our favourite spots!
Yosemite is packed full of plants, in fact, of California’s 7,000 species, half of these occur in the Sierra Nevada and in Yosemite itself, more than an incredible 20% with at least 160 rare plants within the park. About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was actually uplifted and then consequently titled which worked to form the gentle western slopes and dramatic steep eastern slopes. It was at the same time the uplift caused an increase of steepness of the river and stream beds; this today has resulted in the formation of deep yet narrow canyons. Around one million years ago, there was an accumulation of snow and ice which actually formed glaciers on the higher alpine meadows when then moved down to the river valleys (the ice thickness at one point has been estimated to have reached 1,200m!) It was this downward movement of the ice that cut through the valley and shaped it into the u shaped valley that we visit today – it’s interesting to know how the areas we visited were formed and when you’re there, it’s so hard to comprehend the scale of Yosemite and how it could possibly be real and in front of you, so knowing how it formed is fantastic to learn!
As we drove and walked around, we looked out for the brown bears that are notorious with the area – half wanting to see one and half very much not! All together, the park’s varied habitats support around 250 species of vertebrates and allows them to flourish and survive; this number includes fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and also mammals. There’s quite a few species within the park that within our knowledge have become extinct, though are now making a come back after human intervention; these include the brown bear, California condor and least Bell’s Vireo (a small songbird.) Another 37 species are currently under special status either under federal or California endangered species legislation. The reasons for their endangered status is several fold; the wildlife is in danger of wild fires which are natural but deadly to wildlife and animals, air pollution, habitat fragmentation and also climate change. Yosemite have also seen the issue of road kill as more and more tourists flood into the park and also the fact human food causes animals to move closer to the humans – once this happens, if aggressive behaviour occurs, heart breakingly, they sometimes have to be put down due to their threat to human life. To combat this, over recent years, Yosemite have really been pushing back on humans involvement with the bears in particular – there are signs throughout informing humans not to leave food visible in cars – apparently bears can smell and see it and break into cars, all food must be put into bear proof rubbish bins and there are signs throughout requesting for drivers to slow down and be aware of wild life on the roads. It’s the animals homes, so if you do visit, just be aware of the rules – we hate to think that the beautiful creatures could be hurt because of us wanting to visit their valley!
Whilst there, we particularly loved the waterfalls that naturally have formed to cascade down the rock. There’s not many places you can see such high falls like these, famous for the number of waterfalls in the relatively small area. The waterfalls are formed due to the sheer drops, glacial steps and hanging valleys and they’re particularly strong in April-June in the snow melting season. The Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America and Ribbon Falls has the highest single vertical drop.
If you get the chance to visit, it’s definitely worth the drive! As you can see from all our photos, we really enjoyed our trip and seeing all the different aspects of the park; from the waterfalls and river to the vistas and wildlife.