Yosemite Valley

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Yosemite Valley (pronounced /joʊˈsɛmɨtiː/, yoh-SEM-i-tee) is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, carved out by the Merced River. The valley is about 8 miles (13 km) long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines. A multitude of streams including Tenaya, Illilouette and Bridalveil Creeks join in the valley, and flow out of the valley's mouth as the Merced River, which eventually flows to the Pacific Ocean. The valley is renowned for its natural beauty, and is widely regarded as the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, attracting visitors worldwide.

The Valley is the main attraction in the park for the majority of visitors, and a bustling hub of activity during "tourist season", with an array of visitor facilities clustered in the middle. There are both hiking trail loops that stay within the valley and trailheads that lead to higher elevations, all of which afford glimpses of the park's many scenic wonders.

Contents

Description

Yosemite Valley is located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, 150 miles (240 km) due east of San Francisco. It stretches for 7.5 miles (11 km) in a roughly east-west direction, with an average width of about 1 mile (1.6 km).

Yosemite Valley represents only one percent of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive and stay. More than half a dozen creeks tumble from hanging valleys at the top of granite cliffs that can rise 3000–4000 feet (900–1200 m) above the valley floor, which itself is 4000 ft (1200 m) above sea level. These streams combine into the Merced River, which flows out from the western end of the valley, down the rest of its canyon to the San Joaquin Valley. The flat floor of Yosemite Valley holds both forest and large open meadows, which provide breathtaking views of the surrounding crests and waterfalls.

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