How Was Yosemite Valley Formed?


Quick Answer

Yosemite Valley, located in California, was formed between 2 and 3 million years ago when a series of glaciers molded the Sierra Nevada mountain range into a vast U-shaped valley. Known for its beauty and wildlife, Yosemite Valley is a part of the federally protected Yosemite National Park.

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Full Answer

Scientists have found evidence that the Sherwin, Tahoe, Tenaya and Tioga glaciers formed the Yosemite Valley. Sherwin, the last of the four glaciers, developed 10,000 years ago. These glaciers smoothed and carved the granite with heavy, slow-moving ice. The Merced River now winds through the valley.

Yosemite National Park covers nearly 1,200 miles and is home to several rivers, numerous lakes, giant sequoias, high waterfalls, hiking trails and a variety of unique species. Yosemite was publicly founded in 1857 by a settler named Galen Clark, and it was soon determined that the land would need to be protected due to increasing tourism and environmental factors. On June 30th, 1964, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, which declared that the government would protect and preserve the land. Yosemite National Park receives an estimated 4 million visitors a year, and it is one of the most popular national parks in the United States.

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