Featuring spectacular waterfalls, towering gray granite cliffs and a lush, green valley, Yosemite National Park is a natural wonder and a national treasure. It also has a rich and interesting history.
The first people to inhabit and frequent Yosemite Valley were the Ahwahnee tribe. Yosemite means "bear" in their language and was the name of one of their chiefs.
Discovery by Euro-Americans
The first Euro-Americans to see Yosemite Valley were a militia searching for the Yosemite tribe in 1851. Most of the Yosemite escaped without detection at first but were eventually captured.
The first expedition to visit Yosemite Valley for its beauty took place in 1855. It was organized by J.M. Hutchings after he had heard of the Valley's grand waterfalls.
First Preservation Land Grant
In June 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that set aside Yosemite for preservation and granted it to the state of California. This was the first land grant of its kind.
Naturalist John Muir advocated further protections for Yosemite Valley. He convinced Theodore Roosevelt to designate Yosemite as a national park, putting control of the Valley back into federal hands in 1906.
Yosemite National Park today encompasses 1,200 square miles and hosts 3.5 million visitors a year. It is the home of the elegant Ahwahnee Hotel, a national historical monument and top-rated vacation spot.