Yosemite National Park, on the west slope of the central Sierra Nevada Mountains, is an area of outstanding scenic beauty and great wilderness value. The park represents practically all the different environments found within the Sierra Nevada, including sequoia groves, historic resources, evidence of Indian habitation, and domes, valleys, polished granites and other geological features illustrating the formation of the mountain range.
The park is dominated by the Sierra Nevada, which is a tilted granite area. Granite underlies most of the park and is exposed as domes, partial domes, knobs and cliffs.
The park is known for its many waterfalls, including the Yosemite Falls and Ribbon Falls, and some 300 lakes, including Emerald and Merced. Other notable canyons in the park are the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River and the Tenaya Canyon. There are also two major rivers (Merced and Tuolumne).
Yosemite’s natural beauty was the impetus, then, for the first implementation of the national park concept as we know it today. Adding to Yosemite’s cultural importance are the archaeological features found in the area.