History and Culture

Explore Yosemite history. And in the Yosemite region, mining ghost towns, California's Gold Country, and historic sites await your exploration.

Ansel Adams photo of Yosemite

Ansel Adams & Local Artists

Get better acquainted with artistic legacy during your Yosemite vacation by visiting the Ansel Adams Gallery and galleries of basket making and painting.

Tommy Caldwell hangs from a rope and Kevin Jorgensen relaxes in the tent while climbing Yosemite's Dawn Wall on El Capitan

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Co-director Pete Mortimer shares stories of his documentary The Dawn Wall, which follows one of Yosemite's favorite climbers, Tommy Caldwell, up a sheer face.

The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite

Building Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel

Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, who decided that what Yosemite needed was a first-class hotel to attract wealthy, politically powerful, and celebrity clientele to the park.

Glacier Point

Early Visitors to Yosemite Park

Early tourists made the long journey overland to see its natural wonders, from the to the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias and the views from Glacier Point.


Explore History & Culture

Yosemite is the wild, wild West. From its earliest Native American inhabitants, to the mid-19th-century California Gold Rush, and the later arrival of ranchers, loggers, and hoteliers, the land surrounding Yosemite National Park is amazingly rich in historical sites.


Favorite Books by John Muir

Naturalist and conservationist John Muir wrote prolifically about his experiences in the Sierra Nevada, including time spent living in Yosemite Valley

Fire in Yosemite, June 26, 2018

Fire on Yosemite's Mountain

Shanelle Saunders, acting fire information officer and lead firefighter on the Wawona Engine Module for Yosemite, shares why fires are good for the forest.

Half Dome viewed from Yosemite Valley. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

How Yosemite Became a National Park

Abraham Lincoln's and John Muir's passion for preserving and protecting the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove ecosystem lead to the creation of Yosemite National Park.

John Muir in Yosemite

John Muir Geotourism Center

The John Muir Geotourism Center, now closed, had a mission to enrich the natural and rural communities by inspiring people to explore, learn, share and preserve the values of the John Muir Legacy through innovative and creative programs.

Gullgraver 1850 California by L. C. McClurevia via Wikimedia Commons.

Miners and the Mariposa Battalion

As tens of thousands of miners flooded the foothills, some became the first outsiders to make contact with the Sierra Nevada's indigenous peoples since Spanish explorers trooped through at the beginning of the 19th century.

Yosemite Half Dome. Photo by Todd Reich

Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite

"Off the Wall" recounts the various ways that visitors have met unfortunate ends in Yosemite, one of America's most seductively beautiful outdoor destinations.

Mammoth Mountain

Renaming Mammoth Peak after Jessie Benton Fremont

Yosemite National Park’s Mammoth Peak may be renamed in honor of 19th century female preservationist Jessie Benton Fremont. The measure would be a tribute to a woman who worked doggedly to preserve the land that would become Yosemite in 1890.

Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad 10 Curve

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

All aboard for an exciting four-mile scenic excursion through the Sierra National Forest on the restored railroad used for the Madera Sugar Pine’s logging trains.

Galen Clark, First White Man in Yosemite

Yosemite Park's First Guardian, Galen Clark

Clark was famous for his hospitality, at first running a stagecoach rest stop called Clark's Station, where tourists could get meals, stay overnight, and water and feed their horses. Even when his business failed, Clark remained active in Yosemite, guiding visitors and serving as its guardian until 1897.

The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite

Yosemite's Place Names

Take a minute to find out what some of Yosemite's famous place names mean, and you'll uncover valuable nuggets of the park's history