Put simply, Yosemite Valley, nestled in YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, and created by glaciers gouging through the canyon of the Merced River, is one of the world’s most dramatic geological spectacles. Just seven miles long and less than one mile across, it’s walled by 3000ft near-vertical cliffs, streaked by tumbling waterfalls and topped by domes and pinnacles that form a jagged silhouette against the sky. At ground level, grassy meadows are framed by oak, cedar and fir trees; deer, coyotes and black bears abound. You can visit any time of year – even in winter when the waterfalls ice over and most trails are blocked by snow.

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the landmark Yosemite Grant, which set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove for public use and preservation. In 1890, Yosemite became the third national park in the USA, thanks in great part to the campaigning work of naturalist John Muir, a Scottish immigrant who spearheaded the conservation movement that led to the founding of the Sierra Club.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Beer and bison burgers: a foodie's guide to Denver

Beer and bison burgers: a foodie's guide to Denver

Countless cities are credited with a burgeoning food scene – but Denver, the Wild West capital of Colorado, stands out from the crowd. In 2016, a stagger…

19 Sep 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
Where to stay in Las Vegas: a first-timer’s guide

Where to stay in Las Vegas: a first-timer’s guide

Shimmering from the desert haze of Nevada like a latter-day El Dorado, Las Vegas is the most dynamic, spectacular city on Earth. At the start of the 20th centu…

01 Sep 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month