Although intangible, the soundscape of Yosemite is just as important of a natural resource to the park as its mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and rushing waterfalls. Wind, waves, and bird song – all the sounds that we associate with a peaceful, relaxing outdoor experience – have to compete with human voices, passing traffic, and the noise of civilian and military planes flying overhead.
Currently, the park is working on a project to measure the quality of Yosemite’s soundscape. Meanwhile, the park has upgraded shuttle buses in Yosemite Valley with quieter hybrid models. The park also works with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to minimize noise (especially in the park’s backcountry) from aircraft flying over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
So what can you do to help preserve the park’s natural soundscape? Try to lower your voices while hiking on park trails, especially in places where sound can loudly bounce off of granite rocks. Also, try to leave your car behind and take advantage of the park’s public transportation options, especially in the Yosemite Valley. You’ll be saving yourself time and the headache of driving on crowded park roads, too!