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.

Old Church in Bodie, California

California Ghost Town, Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie is a ghost town in the Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Yosemite. Today Bodie is a State Historical Park and landmark open to visitors.

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 Came to Be

Pull back the curtains of history from the Miwok people to the establishment of the national park.

IMAX National Parks Adventure Trailer. YouTube photo

IMAX 3D/2D Movie: National Parks Adventure

Soar past Yosemite’s Half Dome and over Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring in National Parks Adventure, an awe-inspiring salute to the NPS’s 100th anniversary.

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.

John Muir

John Muir, Yosemite National Park's Protector

A camping trip with President Roosevelt and Muir led to an explosion of wilderness protection across the country and a push to make Yosemite a national park.

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

Miners and the Mariposa Battalion

Gold minors became the first outsiders to make contact with the Sierra Nevada's indigenous peoples since Spanish explorers and it caused conflict.

California Morteros

Native American Rock Art and Writing

In the Sierra Nevada, most of the archaeological evidence of indigenous peoples in the Yosemite consists of grinding holes made in rocks.

Don Neubacher, Superintendent of Yosemite National Park. Photo by NPS

NPS Centennial Q & A with Don Neubacher

We asked the Superintendent of Yosemite National Park to take a look back over the last 100 years and forward to the next 100 years.

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.

Horse-drawn wagon emerging from the covered bridge at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

Pioneer Yosemite History Center at Wawona

At the History Center you can ride horse-drawn wagons, walk across a covered bridge, and visit historic buildings out of Yosemite's past.

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 Ranger Shelton Johnson, Buffalo Soldier reenactment

The Living History of Yosemite's Buffalo Soldiers

Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson brings to life the stories of the Black soldiers who served as the park’s first rangers.

Ansel Adams with his camera

The Lost Negatives of Ansel Adams

An antiques collector uncovers a box of glass negatives that may, or may not, have been taken by Ansel Adams himself.


Yosemite Climbing Pioneers Create Clothing Line Royal Robbins

Liz and Royal Robbins followed a trail in Yosemite National Park which led to the creation of an exceptional outdoor & travel clothing line.


Yosemite Historical Sites

The Sierra Nevada region abounds in historical sites.

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