An early version of the Park was established in 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill creating the Yosemite Grant. As the 19th century drew to a close, however, Yosemite began to see the effects of overgrazing and logging. The land needed protection, and the Sierra Club—an organization devoted to the safekeeping of nature—took up the efforts. By the turn of the century, the Club had accomplished their mission, and after much lobbying, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a bill returning control of Yosemite to the national government. In 1916, when the National Park System was officially created, control of Yosemite was transferred again, this time to a federal organization set on preserving and maintaining all of its splendid natural assets. Today, preservation work in Yosemite continues at full-force. Nearly 90% of the park is considered a highly protected wilderness area, and leaving with any souvenirs—from fauna to fossils—is strictly forbidden.
A range of exciting outdoor adventures are possible in Yosemite, suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. More than 20km of paved lanes wend through the park’s interior, making cycling one of the best ways to experience its shifting landscapes. Six main hiking trails – from strenuous to easy – are also a popular highlight. Elsewhere in Yosemite, bird watching, horse riding, rock-climbing and rafting are all popular activities, not to mention the classic Yosemite institution of a family picnic. Yosemite is a favourite source of inspiration for photographer Ansel Adams - don’t forget to snap more than a few of your own pictures while here to commemorate this stunning piece of nature.