Yosemite Ranger Notes

About This Blog

Ranger-naturalists have been interpreting the natural and cultural resources of Yosemite for park visitors for nearly a century. In this blog, some of Yosemite's park rangers share recent observations from around Yosemite.

All posts are shown below, or you can view posts by topic.

Bear Series, Part Four: “Bear-Men” of the American Frontier

November 19, 2014 Posted by: PB - Park Ranger (Yosemite Valley)

Long ago, some believed the stereotypical rugged, resourceful, and individualistic American was created by challenging and pushing back against the wilds of the western frontier. Despite cultural connections dating back to the “Old World,” bears at first were not spared from extermination.


Yosemite Valley: A Land of Beauty, Peace, Sanctity, and “ELMER!”

September 29, 2014 Posted by: AR - Park Ranger (Yosemite Valley)

Perhaps the strangest and most mysterious question people ask in Yosemite Valley is “Where’s Elmer?”


The Whole Story About Half of a Tree

September 13, 2014 Posted by: KG - Park Ranger (Yosemite Valley)

As you venture into Yosemite Valley, your journey will undoubtedly involve a trip down Southside Drive. You pass a beautiful little chapel while pulling up to a stop sign, and glance to your right for just a moment. That’s where you will catch a glimpse of a broad opening in the forest with a single tree in the middle. This tree, however, is very peculiar indeed.


What's in a Name?

September 08, 2014 Posted by: KA - Park Ranger/Student Intern (Wawona)

The names around the park might be difficult to pronounce, but they reflect some of the park’s history. The words “Wawona” and “sequoia” carry interesting meanings.


An Artist and His Chocolate

September 02, 2014 Posted by: SS - Park Ranger (Wawona)

Although not as well known in national artistic circles as the now-famous names of Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, William Keith, and Thomas Moran, Chris Jorgensen is locally known and beloved by those of his adopted state of California. Born in Norway and brought to San Francisco as a boy by his widowed mother, Christian Jorgensen initially showed little sign of his future success....


Camp AE Wood: The Original Wawona Campground

August 27, 2014 Posted by: KL - Park Ranger (Wawona)

The Wawona campground is a beloved vacation destination for many visitors because of its peaceful atmosphere and proximity to the river. However, if you could travel back in time to visit Wawona, you would encounter a very different scene. For, if you were visiting the Wawona campground between 1891 and 1906, you would be standing in the middle of a military camp.


Another Yosemite Anniversary

August 04, 2014 Posted by: JL - Park Ranger (Wawona)

As we commemorate the Yosemite Grant’s Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary, another anniversary is overshadowed by the festivities. Fifty years ago, Yosemite celebrated the official opening of the Pioneer Yosemite History Center (PYHC), perhaps not as momentous as the Sesquicentennial but noteworthy nonetheless.


Toboggan runs, ice skating competitions, and a bid for the Winter Olympics

February 06, 2014 Posted by: MO - Park Ranger/Web Manager (Yosemite Valley)

Yosemite was once the stage for avid winter enthusiasts. It was even an option for hosting the Olympic Winter Games in 1932. Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, believed strongly, that “Yosemite is a winter as well as a summer resort…That it has not been more patronized during the winter months is due partly to limited accommodations and partly to lack of publicity.” In some ways he was right, and his hopes for Yosemite later came to fruition.


Remember Hetch Hetchy: The Raker Act and the Evolution of the National Park Idea

December 20, 2013 Posted by: BW - Park Ranger

Yesterday, December 19, was the centennial of the Raker Act, the bill that allowed the building of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Raker Act was highly controversial and the points of view that were argued on both sides of the controversy are valuable perspectives that are still relevant today.


The First Pioneer Settler of Yosemite Valley

December 17, 2013 Posted by: BW - Park Ranger

James Chenowith Lamon (pronounced “lemon”), a native of Virginia, came to California during the Gold Rush in 1851.  Lured by stories of a great valley, he was one of the first few hundred tourists to visit Yosemite in the late 1850s.  In the winters of 1862-63 and 1863-64, Lamon stayed in Yosemite Valley while all other settlers and pioneers moved down to the foothills.  Can you imagine what that was like?


Stewards of Stone - Stabilizing Yosemite Cemetery

September 25, 2013 Posted by: BR - Park Ranger/Resources Management & Science Liaison

The Yosemite Cemetery is filled with echoes of Yosemite’s past. For American Indians the origins of these echoes reach back many hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. The echoes of non-Indians go back only to the mid-nineteenth century, yet this was a time of great change in the American perspective on wild lands and scenic resources. A visit to the Yosemite Cemetery will bring you closer to many of the personages that began the development of what we now call Yosemite National Park.


The Hodgdon Cabin

August 16, 2013 Posted by: KL - Park Ranger (Wawona)

Wawona is home to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, a collection of historic buildings that have been relocated from all over the park. Each building tells a different story about Yosemite’s history. A visit to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center provides the opportunity to look into the lives, homes, and workplaces of the people who shaped and were shaped by Yosemite in centuries past.


The Wildest Creature that John Muir Ever Saw

August 04, 2013 Posted by: JL - Park Ranger (Wawona)

"He is, without exception, the wildest animal I ever saw, --a fiery, sputtering little bolt of life." Imagine for a moment, if we had opportunity to spend the day with John Muir as our mountain guide. As Muir leads us into the upper montane forest, he excitedly speaks of searching out the “wildest animal I ever saw.” Would you be delighted or disappointed to discover that this creature is less than a foot in length and weighs just a few ounces?


Wawona Meadow

June 21, 2013 Posted by: KL- Park Ranger (Wawona)

The Wawona Meadow has played many different roles throughout its history: a home to wildlife, a food preparation area for American Indians, a hotspot of biological diversity, and more recently, a pasture, a golf course, and an airstrip! Like all Sierra Nevada meadows, our meadow here in Wawona is important habitat for plant and animal communities, including some of Yosemite’s rarest birds. It also serves as a natural floodwater reservoir and filtration system.


Glacier Point Hotel

May 06, 2013 Posted by: DR - Museum Technician

The Glacier Point Hotel was open from 1918 through 1969, when an electrical fire destroyed the building and the adjacent Mountain House.


Galen Clark, Mariposa Grove Cabin

April 12, 2013 Posted by: DR - Museum Technician

Galen Clark was the first “Guardian” of Yosemite after the Yosemite Grant was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Clark persuaded lawmakers to protect the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as well as Yosemite Valley for future generations.


Last updated: March 27, 2021

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