The history of Yosemite National Park is as fascinating and important as it is short relative to that of other parts of our country and the world.The Ahwahneechee lived in Yosemite Valley for generations until European-Americans entered the Valley in 1851. The rugged terrain challenged many early travelers, with just only 650 making the journey to Yosemite valley by horseback or stagecoach.
There is little question that at Yosemite, the concept of national parks was born, and the Park still serves as a model and symbol for the entire world.
Native Americans resided in the Yosemite region for about 4,000 years before the European-Americans occupied California and the Gold Rush occurred. As Europeans arrived in the mid-1800s, violent disruption ensued, displacing many of the native populations. As early European settlement occurred, parts of Yosemite’s landscape were exploited, spurring conservationists to appeal for protections.
President Abraham Lincoln signed an 1864 bill granting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to the State of California. John Muir helped spark the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890.Today, more than 3.5 million people enter Yosemite’s gates to explore its natural beauty and wonder. Throughout the Park, visitors have the opportunity to learn of the stories of Yosemite’s rich history and of all those who walked Yosemite’s trails before us, allowing appreciation of their lasting footprints that led to conscious preservation.