Yosemite National Park: A Visual Exploration

Contributor: Tara Ondra. Lesson ID: 13159

Majestic with its sheer cliff faces and tumbling waterfalls, Yosemite intrigues adventurers, nature lovers, and artists alike. See its awe for yourself through photography.


United States, Visual Arts

learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Look at this image.

Yosemite valley

  • What words would you use to describe this place?
  • What do you see?
  • What do you feel?
  • Would you like to visit this place someday? Why or why not?

Yosemite National Park, with its picturesque features from granite rock faces to ancient sequoias to thundering waterfalls, has been captured by numerous photographers over the years. It is their artistic eye that allows us to experience Yosemite, through images like the one above, without ever having to visit it ourselves.

One of the most famous Yosemite photographers is Ansel Adams (1902-1984). Adams was a photographer and environmentalist from San Francisco, California who spent much time in Yosemite capturing the park's beauty in his photography.

Follow the link to see this image of Monolith, The Face of Half Dome that Adams captured in 1927 after a 4,000-foot climb in heavy snow. Half Dome itself reaches 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and is a true park icon. Today, thousands of people make the 14 to 16 mile (10 to 12 hours) hike to half dome.

Half Dome in Yosemite

Adams took many photos of El Capitan, which rises nearly 3,600 feet above the Yosemite valley floor. Today, rock climbers from around the world attempt to make the 7- to 10-day ascent up the granite rock face. Take a look at his El Capitan, Sunrise photograph.

El Capitan in Yosemite

In addition to its impressive rock faces, Yosemite is home to countless breathtaking waterfalls. Adams captured several of these, including Bridalveil Fall and Vernal Fall. The best time of year to view the waterfalls is May through June.

hikers at Yosemite waterfall

Yosemite is also home to Mariposa Grove with over 500 sequoias, which are very large trees. Look at this image of Sequoia Roots taken by Adams in 1950.

These giant trees have a very long lifespan. The most famous sequoia at Yosemite, the Grizzly Giant, is about 1,800 years old!

Mariposa Grove

  • Have you been awed by these photos?
  • Would you like to visit Yosemite?
  • Where is this incredible place?

Yosemite National Park is located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada in Central California. It fell under the protection of the state of California in 1864. Today, the park spans 1,200 square miles. Its hiking trails, campsites, picnic areas, and climbing routes are enjoyed by over 4 million visitors per year.

Yosemite West map

Take some time to explore Yosemite National Park with the National Park Service video.

Whether you're the adventurous type seeking the summit of Half Dome or the artsy type captivated by the majestic falls, there is something for everyone in Yosemite.

Click on NEXT to visit the Got It? section, where you'll explore the official website of Yosemite National Park.

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