There are few places on earth that are as breathtaking as Yosemite National Park.
This is perhaps the most iconic view of the park, with El Capitan’s rocky face on the left side and Yosemite Falls on the right, framing the snow capped mountains in the background. It’s as if God himself stopped to personally position everything in this photo.
This doesn’t look at all like an accident or chaos, but planned symmetry and beauty by someone with great taste.
Yosemite was the second National Park ever established, behind Yellowstone, and was a blank canvas for the work of photographer Ansel Adams.
Ansel’s work, which includes some of the most iconic nature photography in history, persuaded Presidents and Congressmen to designate lands across America as national parks and monuments. And to think, it all started here! In this majestic valley
“That first impression of the valley—white water, azaleas, cool fir caverns, tall pines and stolid oaks, cliffs rising to undreamed-of heights, the poignant sounds and smells of the Sierra…was a culmination of experience so intense as to be almost painful. From that day in 1916 my life has been colored and modulated by the great earth gesture of the Sierra.”
— Ansel Adams
At the time Ansel was documenting our parks, there were people who chastised him. One critic said, “The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks!”
Which is just a reminder to not listen to the critics. The world needed Ansel.
Seeing the national parks is like looking at a slice of the world centuries ago. While life can move at a thousand miles a minute in town, things move slower out in nature. These pictures could be from 1816, 1916, or 2016.
But as much as I love Ansel Adams, I love the colors of Yosemite.
I love the red bark in the Mariposa Grove.
Even on a rainy day, nature is incredible in full color.
I love the spring green of the treetops.
These sequoias are so large, it feels like some alternate reality. The other trees next to them, which would be grand in any other forest, are dwarfs by comparison.
While God might have planned the rest of Yosemite, I think he let Dr. Seuss play around with the Mariposa Grove.
I love the white of the waterfalls, the gold of the meadow grasses, and the purple glow of the mountains.
A friend from out of the country asked me recently if she should visit Yosemite on her trip to the United States.
My answer was, of course, “Definitely!” Friends, if you ever have a chance, go see this iconic place. This is where Theodore Roosevelt rode his horse and hunted. Where Ansel took his famous photographs. Where Alex Honnold climbed a 2,000 foot rock face without ropes. (I’m sure neither his mother nor the National Park Service approved.)
Stay at one of the lodges, take a gander at Ansel Adam’s photographs in his gallery at Yosemite, and hike up to this vantage point. I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Plan Your Visit
- Location: California, east of Sacramento
- Mariposa Grove: here
- Yosemite National Park website: here
- Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite: here
- Best Views in Yosemite: here