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Yosemite Anniversaries

Yosemite Grant Act 1864 inspired the start of the National Park movement

Yosemite has inspired generations of people for thousands of years. On June 30, 1864, amid the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, establishing Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. From the beginning, this act was a legacy for our nation. Today, the preservation of Yosemite inspires the world.

The Yosemite Grant was the first land grant to protect wild lands for the enjoyment of people. In addition, this grant marked the first California State Park. With the help of many partners and friends, Yosemite & the gateway communities are hosting a nation-wide commemorative effort to honor the 150th anniversary of this significant event that spurred the national park idea.

In 1890, the land surrounding these two tracts were designated Yosemite National Park. John Muir's persuasive words to President Roosevelt and state authorities led to combining Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove with Yosemite National Park in 1906.

Visionaries like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Galen Clark understood that the wonders of the American wilderness are not only our inheritance, but our responsibility. Now, 150 years later, the promise of the Yosemite Grant endures as this beloved national park opens its arms to over 4 million people annually who marvel at the awe-inspiring beauty and gain a new understanding of the importance of preserving our wild lands.

YosemiteNational Park's 125th Anniversary - October 1, 2015

On October 1, 2015, the park will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of Yosemite National Park. President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation, thereby creating the nation’s third National Park. The establishment of Yosemite National Park preserved over 1,500 square miles of land including Tuolumne Meadows, the park’s high country, Hetch Hetchy and lands surrounding Yosemite Valley. 

The creation of Yosemite National Park added protected land to the existing Yosemite Grant Act of 1864. This landmark law protected Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and was managed by the State of California. Preservation of these lands is generally regarded as the birth of the national park idea. The creation of the park and the Yosemite Grant collectively preserved most of Yosemite National Park as it is known today. 

The celebrated conservationist John Muir played an important role in advocating the protection of the vast high-elevation meadows, rivers, majestic mountains, and deep valleys that make up the heart of the High Sierra. Muir was also instrumental in influencing President Theodore Roosevelt to recede the Yosemite Grant lands to the federal government in June 1906. The National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior, was established on August 25, 1916 to manage all National Park sites across the country, including the crown jewel, Yosemite National Park. 

National Park Service turns 100 in 2016!

Stay tuned for more information regarding the celebrations for the National Park Services 100th Anniversary in 2016.  Find Your Park theme will honor the park service and hopes to inspire the younger generations to protect our national parks and sister parks around the world!


Inspiring Yosemite Video

You're Invited!
Join us in honoring the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, as Yosemite National Park and the surrounding region tell the story of how this inaugural act impacted the lives of the Yosemite Native American residents; inspired conservation efforts and partnerships among state and federal park systems; and continues to draw visitors from around the world.

The Anniversary Website – www.nps.gov/yose/anniversary
The site includes an anniversary timeline, a calendar of over one hundred community activities, stories from Yosemite visitors, historic images, interesting facts, inspirational quotes and a video – among other things!

Calendar of Anniversary Activities
The park and gateway communities have planned a multitude of activities from artist events to festivals, history symposiums to Jr. Ranger programs that will commemorate the 150th Anniversary. In addition the Yosemite Conservancy has released Seed of the Future, a new Dayton Duncan book, a collection of 150 published visitor stories, and a special Ken Burns' documentary to honor this milestone. A complete list of over 100 activities and projects is available at www.nps.gov/yose/anniversary.

Youth In Yosemite Short Film Contest
Yosemite National Park in partnership wtih The Ansel Adams Gallery presents the Youth in Yosemite Short Film Contest - a celebration of Yosemite through film  Submissions are open to all youth 25 years of age or under.  Please see contest guidelines for eligibility and submission requirements.  Selected films will be shown at the youth film awards ceremony, scheduled to be held in Yosemite Valley.  Click here for guidelines and information.

Getting Involved
You can participate in the anniversary while you are staying in or passing through one of our neighboring communities. Top five ways to get involved:

  • Attend one of over 100 anniversary activities
  • Volunteer in the park
  • Look for over 75 official merchandise items - like the Pendleton Blanket
  • Share your Yosemite story
  • Support an anniversary legacy project

Future Anniversaries
Did you know that the world of conservation has many anniversaries over the next few years? Watch for opportunities in the Yosemite region for you to engage in these upcoming milestones:

September 3, 2014 - 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
October 1, 2015 – 125th Anniversary of Yosemite National Park
October 1, 2015 – 125th Anniversary of Sequoia National Park
August 25, 2016 – 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service

Did You Know?

  • In 1855, James Mason Hutchings led the first tourist party into the Yosemite area. In this year, a total of 42 tourists visited Yosemite. One of these visitors, artist Thomas Ayres, published the first sketches of Yosemite Valley. The first published description of the Yosemite Valley appeared in Hutching's "Mariposa Gazette."
  • In 1857, Galen Clark explored and publicized the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
  • In 1864, after Senator John Conness introduced the Yosemite Grant in Congress and President Lincoln signed it, Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove were given to the State of California to be administered. A board of commissioners was appointed to supervise the Grant.
  • On May 1st, 1866, Galen Clark was named the first Yosemite Guardian in charge of the Yosemite Grant for the State of California. He became, in effect, the first California State Park Ranger.
  • In 1868, influential writer and conservationist John Muir first came to Yosemite.

Thank You!
Our anniversary team consists of 85 volunteers, our park partners, California State Parks, and National Park Service staff. We have a mosaic of backgrounds and interests – with Yosemite at our core. We are honoring the 150th Anniversary through events, programs, and official merchandise found in Yosemite and throughout the communities surrounding the park.


Abraham Lincoln - Yosemite Grant Act

President Abraham Lincoln’s signature enacted the protection and preservation of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias for eternity.

To find commemorative merchandise, look for this poster at retail locations in the park and in the region.

Find great Southern Yosemite Area travel advice on TripAdvisor.