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Blog John Muir Quotes about Yosemite to Inspire the Inner Mountaineer in You
Alex Silgalis | 07/16/2020Hiking, Museums, History & Culture, Nature, Photography |   

John Muir Quotes about Yosemite to Inspire the Inner Mountaineer in You

There are places so intertwined with a person that you can’t think of one without bringing up the other. Sir Edmund Hilary and Mount Everest. Henry David Thoreau and the Walden Pond. For Yosemite National Park, it's John Muir. No one has described the beauty and been such a champion for it to become a park than him. To really appreciate his love for it, here’s a few of John Muir’s quotes about Yosemite.

“The famous Yosemite Valley … includes the head waters of the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, two of the most songful streams in the world; innumerable lakes and waterfalls and smooth silky lawns; the noblest forests, the loftiest granite domes, the deepest ice-sculptured canons, the brightest crystalline pavements, and snowy mountains soaring into the sky twelve and thirteen thousand feet.”

Valley View in Yosemite ValleyPhoto by: Breeze TurnerWhen he penned this quote in the August 1899 issue of the Atlantic, Yosemite was a national park but Yosemite Valley was not under the protection of the federal government (Yosemite Valley, along with the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, were set aside earlier in 1864 under the Yosemite Land Grant.  The State of California controlled those areas). You can feel his excitement wanting this valley to be safe for future generations. Like a pied piper, he trumpets it's virtues calling everyone to see its beauty in real life. His dream became a reality when Teddy Roosevelt helped push the 1906 which brought all of the pieces of Yosemite together under unified stewardship, helping preserve the land.

“So harmonious and finely balanced are even the mightiest of these monarchs in all their proportions that there is never anything overgrown or monstrous about them. Seeing them for the first time you are more impressed with their beauty than their size, their grandeur being in great part invisible; but sooner or later it becomes manifest to the loving eye, stealing slowly on the senses like the grandeur of Niagara or of the Yosemite Domes.”

Photo by: Annie Starkey - Giant Sequoia trees in the Mariposa GroveThis excerpt from “The Yosemite” about the Big Trees provides a glimpse to what he thought of the mighty Sequoia. These giants aren’t just trees. They are as important in majesty as the other landmarks in the park from their beauty to their size.

“The day after the “storm” (a most damnable name for the flowering of the clouds) I lay out on the meadow to eat a grand meal of newmade beauty, and about midday I suddenly wanted the outside mountains, and so cast off my coat and ran up towards Glacier Point. I soon was near [the] top and was very hungry for the view that was so grandly mingled and covered with snow and sky, but the snow was now more than ten feet deep and dusty and light as winter fog. I tried to wallow and swim it, but the slope was so steep that I always fell back and sank out of sight, and I was fully baffled. I had a glorious slide downwards.”

Photo by: Local FreshiesIn addition to all his writings in books and magazines, Muir did a lot of correspondence via letters as well. This quote is from a letter he wrote on December 10, 1872 to J.B. McChesney. For anyone that has personally experienced a Sierra storm, the snowfall doesn’t come in inches but in feet. And after the weather subsides, the first virgin steps into the newly fallen is bottomless making it truly feel like you’re wallowing in “winter fog.”

“The mountains are calling and I must go and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.”

It’s very easy to simplify John Muir’s writings, especially someone as descriptive as him. A good example of his words being lost in time is one of his most famous quotes from the 1873 letter to his sister. It isn’t that the mountains are just calling for you to lie around and relax. He saw responsibility and purpose when visiting the lofty peaks. They’re there to be studied. To be observed and learned from along with the pleasure of being there.

We hope these quotes inspire you to delve deeper into who John Muir was. To not just visit Yosemite's main attractions but to experience every acre like he did, using all of your senses. Happy Trails!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
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