Winter Photo in Yosemite. Images from Yosemite Valley in California.
For tens of thousands of years, humans have changed, and have been changed by, this place we now call Yosemite. The Ahwahneechee lived here for generations, followed by the arrival of Europeans in the mid-1800s. The rugged terrain challenged many early travelers, with just a few—only 650 from the mid-1850s to mid-1860s—making the journey to Yosemite Valley by horseback or stagecoach. By 1907, construction of the Yosemite Valley Railroad from Merced to El Portal eased the journey, thereby, increasing visitation. Today, 3.5 million people enter the park’s gates to explore. We learn from the stories of those who walked Yosemite’s trails before us, allowing appreciation of their lasting footprints that led to conscious preservation.