Half Dome, a cracked block of gray granite, soars 1,459 meters (4,788 feet) above the valley floor, its sheer face dominating this area of Yosemite National Park.

Photograph by Craig Wolf, My Shot
  • On October 1, 1890, Yosemite National Park, California, was established by the United States Congress. The park covers nearly 323,750 hectares (800,000 acres) and plays host to nearly 4 million visitors a year. Yosemite is internationally famous for its beautiful mountains (including El Capitan and Half Dome), high waterfalls, pristine lakes, and beautiful meadows.

    Interest in the Yosemite Valley began with the California Gold Rush of the early 1850s. The first tourism campaign was launched in 1855, and included brochures advertising the area’s rugged beauty with illustrations and stories. Business and government leaders quickly called for the removal of the native Ahwahnechee people, who had lived in the valley for thousands of years. By the time Yosemite became a national park, no Ahwahnechee lived in the area.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    California Gold Rush Noun

    (1848-1855) worldwide immigration to California following the discovery of gold.

    Congress Noun

    legislative branch of the government, responsible for making laws. The U.S. Congress has two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    national park Noun

    geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

    pristine Adjective

    pure or unpolluted.

    tourism Noun

    the industry (including food, hotels, and entertainment) of traveling for pleasure.

    waterfall Noun

    flow of water descending steeply over a cliff. Also called a cascade.

    Encyclopedic Entry: waterfall