Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

According to Timedictionary, Yosemite National Park is one of the oldest of its kind. In America, the park is the third oldest in the country. The area, located in the Sierra Nevada about 250 kilometers from San Francisco, has had its special status since the year 1890. This is mainly due to John Muir. A Scottish-American writer and what we would now call an environmental activist. Thanks to his books and essays, Yosemite National Park was founded. Yosemite, famous for its waterfalls, steep rocks and green nature, was also added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984. The park acquired its distinctive contours millions of years ago. When tectonic plates pushed up the mountains in the Sierra Nevada. The landscape then tilted and the Merced River started to flow faster towards the western Pacific Ocean. The accelerated river water caused erosion and created deep v-shaped valleys.


Thanks to the later ice age and the accompanying glaciers, the v-shapes were worn down into u-shapes: this is called glacial erosion. When the temperature rose and the ice disappeared, hundreds of meters high rock formations and mountains remained. Streams of water that had previously been absorbed in the masses of moisture now clattered down over the edge. This is how the meter-long waterfalls that Yosemite National Park is known for today were created.


Another natural phenomenon that characterizes Yosemite National Park is Half Dome. A large, massive and granite rock, which stands out for its evenness compared to the rest of the mountains in the park. Half Dome towers over the valley (1,444 meters, 2,694 meters above sea level) and is the face of the park.

The original Indian name for the rock was Tis-sa-ack. Now he is called Half Dome. That’s right. Seen from the northwest side, it seems that one half of the rock was once eroded by a glacier or, for example, crumbled. However, that is an optical illusion. It was long thought that this was the cause, but it has now been established that the rock was never ‘whole’.

The granite of the Dome originated from cooled and crystallized magma and is therefore so strong that it could not have crumbled. The ‘half’ shape can be explained by the fact that the rock originated in the earth’s crust. There, deep underground, perhaps another strong rock lay against the rock as it cooled and crystallized and took its form.

The Dome was eventually pushed up by the centuries-long formation of mountains. It ended at about a mile and a half and now looks down royally on the park from there.

Ahwahnee Hotel

The luxurious Ahwahnee Hotel is located in Yosemite National Park. Many visitors to this inn imagine themselves staying in The Overlook, the hotel that was used in the American horror film The Shining.

However, the makers of the film did not film here. They did not use one specific hotel for the recordings, but chose influences from several hotels and made a special hotel decor in a film studio in London. For example, it is possible that people in the lobby of the Ahwanee imagine themselves on the set of The Shining. The filmmakers have derived it – together with the candlesticks, windows and fireplaces – from the Ahwahnee.

The hotel is built near the Royal Arch. A natural stone formation that looks a lot like an entrance arch. The Miwok Indians used to live here. The builders of the hotel, probably like the Indians, chose this location because of the many different views from this place. For example, Half Dome (the typical rock formation on one of the mountains), Yosemite Falls (the highest waterfall in North America) and Glacier Point (viewpoint) are clearly visible. In addition, the sun – in good weather – always shines down on the hotel. Which in turn is useful for natural heating of the building.


The hotel is built in a style that the Americans call Parkitecture. That is ONE architectural style that aims to fit in with nature. In almost all National Parks in the United States, buildings must conform to this style. This so that they harmonize instead of conflict. The buildings can be recognized by the use of wood and stone and the way of building. The buildings are mostly built by hand. In addition, regularity and symmetry, as is common in the industrial world, are not used. Text Lars van Soest, photography Harald Kolkman & Shutterstock.com

Yosemite National Park, California