Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yosemite National Park

Summertime is travel time. I've been lucky when it comes to travel. I've seen many of the world's landmarks up close and personal. Places like the Eiffel Tower, The Acropolis, Vatican City, Ayres Rock, Franz Josep Glacier, Norte Dame and Big Ben. For the next few postings I want to share some lesson plans I use for my students as I present some of America's outstanding landmarks and places of interest. So get your luggage packed and gas-up your mental car because we're off. Let's go to Yosemite National Park:

Yosemite National Park (pronounced "yo-SEM-it-ee") is a national park in east central California in the U.S. The park covers an area of 761,266 acres or 1,189 square miles (3,081 km²) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Yosemite is visited by over 3.5 million people annually, many of whom only spend time in the seven square miles (18 km²) of Yosemite Valley. The park is world famous for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological differences. Almost 95% of the park is wilderness. The park set an example of what a national park should be thanks to the work of people like John Muir.

Yosemite is one of the largest natural habitats that still is left in the Sierra Nevada. The park has an elevation range from 2,000 to 13,114 feet (600 to 4,000 m) and has five major vegetation zones: chaparral/oak woodland, lower montane, upper montane, subapine, and alpine. Of California's 7,000 plant species, about 20% are within Yosemite, including more than 160 rare plants.

Yosemite was formed about 10 million years ago, when the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more rugged eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, narrow canyons. About 1 million years ago, sown and ice collected, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet (1200 m) during the early glacial age. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that offers wonderful scenic vistas today.

The park has thousands of lakes and ponds, 1,600 miles of streams, 800 miles of hiking trails, and 350 miles of roads. Two rivers, the Merced and the Tuolumne begin within the park and flow westward into the Central Valley of California. Yosemite Valley represents only 1% of the park area, but this is where most visitors arrive and stay. El Captain, a prominent granite cliff is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world because of its different climbing routes and year-round accessibility. The granite domes of Sentinel Rock and Half Dome rise 3,000 feet and 4,800 feet (900 and 1,450 m), respectively, above the valley floor. The high country of Yosemite also has beautiful areas such as Tuolumne Meadows and Dana Meadows.

The park has three groves of ancient Giant Sequoia trees; the Mariposa Grove (200 trees), the Tuolumne Grove (25 trees) and the Merced Grove (20 trees). The trees are the largest and the oldest in the world and they date back to before the start of the last ice age. The Ahwahneechee Indians lived in Yosemite Valley when the first European explorers arrived. The park, which is a national treasure, and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984. Find out more at: www.nps.gov/yose/

Research info gathered at: www.wikipedia.org

Now, here's one of my poems that loves the outdoors:

I'll Let You Decide

Once unpacked it can be used in any number of various ways:

-As a first class seat on an express train to Paris.

-As a polka-dot blouse floating down a red river.

-As the utter beauty that is an onion behind the skin.

-As an umbrella sturdy enough to be showered by gravel.

-As ashes that lets dust know who's the boss.

-As a cat lucky enough to have ten lives.

-As handlebars of the first-ever bicycle.

-As a reflecting pool surrounded by naked goddesses.

-As the original instruction manual for the Twist.

-As a hill born and breed to recognize only other hills.

-As a wave that can mean either hello or good-bye.

Poem first published at: http://www.jacketmagazine.com/
Poem Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.


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