A black bear lumbers around the base of a giant sequoia, a type of tree that can grow over 250 feet. Several miles away, a bobcat laps up water from at the base of the 2,425-foot-tall Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. Here at Yosemite National Park you can find more than 400 animal species as well as some of the biggest and tallest natural sights on Earth.
Tucked into California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park spans 1,169 square miles. In addition to sequoia trees, the area has giant granite rock formations shaped tens of thousands of years ago by moving glaciers.
One such formation is known as El Capitán (Spanish for “The Captain”), the world’s largest solid block of granite. El Capitán rises some 3,000 feet and has a cliff face that’s so sheer only expert climbers are allowed to scale it. Yosemite also features a 5,000-foot-tall rock called the Half Dome, which is shaped like—you guessed it!—half of a dome!
Before Yosemite was designated a national park in 1890, the Miwok (MEE-wuk) tribes were living on the land. In fact, people have been living in this region for at least 8,000 years. But the California Gold Rush in the 1840s brought settlers into conflict with the Native American residents, pushing most of these people off their homeland. Some Native people returned to live in this valley, and today seven tribes have an ancestral connection to the park’s land.
Yosemite National Park boasts bobcats, black bears, spotted owls, and kingsnakes. The park is also home to an arachnid called the Yosemite Cave Pseudoscorpion. This animal, which resembles a scorpion, is believed to exist only at Yosemite. From its incredible rocks to its creepy-crawlies, this park has some seriously unique attractions.