How Yosemite Park Was Formed


Yosemite National Park was established by an Act of Congress in 1890. The act was the result of lobbying by naturalist John Muir and others. Today the park comprises almost 1,200 square miles of forests and mixed terrain, including alpine meadows, giant sequoia trees and the famous granite domes and waterfalls.

The First Protective Legislation

  • The park boundaries surround the earlier Yosemite Grant lands, which were established as a California state park by an Act of Congress in 1864 and signed by President Lincoln, described as:

    "... the granite peak of the Sierra Nevada mountains ... known as the Yo-Semite valley ... in estimated length fifteen miles, and in average width one mile back on each side of the valley ... [to] be held for public use, resort, and recreation ..."

    The act further set aside lands surrounding the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, now known as the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Changing Boundaries

  • The 1890 national park boundaries contained 1,500 square miles, more land than today's park boundaries. They did not include the Yosemite Valley, which was still California state parkland until 1906, when the national park boundaries were redrawn under President Theodore Roosevelt. These boundaries limited the eastern side of the park to the spine of the Sierra Nevada mountains.


  • Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images
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