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Yosemite National Park
Stretching west to encompass the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National park, is a stunning natural collection of lakes, waterfalls, steep mountains, and evergreen forests.
Inhabited by Native Americans since at least 8,000 years, when the park was not yet a protected area, the area has obviously enamored people for a long time, as much as it still does today.
Although Yellowstone national park was the first park to be officially deemed a national park, in 1872, this fact was preceded by the signing of a bill granting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to the State of California as an inalienable public trust, by president Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
The park was itself deemed a National Park in 1890, due to the struggles and efforts of a Scotsman, Mr. John Muir, author of "My First Summer in the Sierra". This man had a great passion for the area and was one of the first modern preservationists. In fact, he founded the “Sierra Club” which is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States.
Aside from the parks rich history, it has a lot to offer.
Well, one need merely enter the park, and begin to walk, just this small effort opens up a magical world to one of it’s visitors.
It’s flora is quite unrivalled, because of the variation in habitat that the park provides. Amongst it’s many types of trees, the Yosemite park boasts the “Ponderosa pine“, “Incense-cedar“, the magnificent “Giant sequoia“, “Shooting Stars” (pinkish white flours found in meadows) , the “Mariposa Lily” (mariposa meaning butterfly in Spanish), “California Black Oak” and “Dog Wood“.
As for it’s fauna, Yosemite park happily homes species such as Peregrine falcon (just one of the four species of falcon in the park), Coyote (which at night you can hear singing and barking), Western Gray squirrel, Steller's jay, Mule deer, California bighorn sheep, Golden eagles (more common at higher elevations in the park), Great Gray owl, Spotted bat and even the occasional Mountain lion.
Amongst the populations of endangered species in Yosemite National Park are Yosemite toad, mastiff and spotted bats, the Sierra Nevada red fox, the spotted owl, the California wolverine, the northern goshawk, the willow flycatcher and Bohart's blue butterfly.
Getting to Yosemite park is trouble less. One can in fact catch a Yosemite tour from San Francisco with “Extranomical Tours” (http://www.extranomical.com/index.htm). If this doesn’t appeal the nearest airports are in Fresno and Merced, the Amtrak San Joaquins Route stops in Merced, where you can catch a bus to Yosemite or in car Yosemite is a three to four hour drive from San Francisco and about six hours from Los Angeles.