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An unincorporated community in Mariposa County, California is Yosemite Village (formerly, Yosemite and Yo Semite). At an elevation of 3,996 feet (1,218 m), it is located forty four miles (seventy one km) northeast of Mariposa.
Its permanent population includes some concession workers and National Park Service staff, situated along the north side of the valley floor. The park's main visitor center and headquarters facilities, a school (kindergarten through eighth grade), gift shops, restaurants, a convenience store, a medical clinic, a post office (ZIP Code 95389), and a fire station, Yosemite Village is the site of some useful facilities.
Near Yosemite Falls, the Yosemite Lodge is located on the west end of the village. A few blocks to the north is the Ahwahnee Hotel. Yosemite Village, making heavy use of native wood, like Camp Curry, is characterized by shed style architecture.
Opened in 1869, the Yo Semite post office changed its name to Yosemite in 1908, and in 1922, to Yosemite National Park. Major H.C. Benson started Fort Yosemite at the site of what became the Yosemite Lodge, in 1906. Up to 1916, with the creation of the National Park Service, troops were stationed at Fort Yosemite.
Yosemite National Park
Carved out by the Merced River, Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Densely forested with pines, and surrounded by high granite summits such as El Capitan and Half Dome, the valley is about eight miles (13 km) long and up to a mile deep. Eventually flowing to the Pacific Ocean, a multitude of streams including Bridalveil, Illilouette and Tenaya Creeks join in the valley, and flow out of the valley's mouth as the Merced River. Attracting visitors from all over the world, the valley is widely regarded as the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, and is renowned for its natural beauty!
With an array of visitor facilities clustered in the center, the Valley is the main attraction in the park for most of the visitors, and a hub of activity during tourist season. All of which afford glimpses of the park's many scenic wonders, there are both trailheads that lead to higher elevations and hiking trail loops that stay within the valley.
One hundred fifty miles (240 km) due east of San Francisco, Yosemite Valley is located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With an average width of about one mile (1.6 km), it stretches for seven and a half miles (11 km) in a roughly east west direction.
Sierra Nevada Mountains
This is where most visitors arrive and stay, but Yosemite Valley represents only one percent of the park region. The floor of the valley is four thousand feet (1,200 m) above sea level, and has over six creeks tumbling from hanging valleys at the top of granite cliffs that can rise three to four thousand feet (900-1,200 m) above the valley floor. Flowing out from the western end of the valley, down the rest of its canyon to the San Joaquin Valley, these streams combine into the Merced River. The flat floor of Yosemite Valley holds both large open meadows and forest, which provide spectacular views of the surrounding waterfalls and crests.
The Tunnel View is the first view of Yosemite Valley many visitors see. The National Park Service named a viewpoint Artist Point because so many paintings were made there.
The Tunnel View
Cathedral Rocks on the right with Bridalveil Fall, and the great granite monolith El Capitan on the left are contained in the view from the lower western end of the Valley. The Valley suddenly widens with the Cathedral Spires, just past this spot, then the pointed obelisk of Sentinel Rock to the south. Rising one above the other like gables built on the same angle, the Three Brothers are across the Valley on the northern side. With the two below known as the Middle and Lower Brothers, the highest crest is Eagle Peak.
The Valley has been curving gently to the left, to the north, to this point. Now, with Yosemite Falls on the north, followed by the Royal Arches, topped by North Dome, a grand curve back to the right begins. 3,200 feet (975 m) above the Valley floor, opposite to the south is Glacier Point. One section curving from south to southeast, with the other slanting northeast, at this point the Valley splits into two. The most famous and most recognizable natural feature in the Sierra Nevada, is Half Dome, at the eastern end of the valley, between them both. The highest point around Yosemite Valley, at 9,926 feet (3,025 m), above and to the northeast of Half Dome is Cloud's Rest.
Your biggest problem will be which trail to hike first, with so much to do and see from Yosemite Village? Have fun! To see more on Yosemite backpacking, click here.
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