Maggie: More than four million people visit Yosemite National Park in Central California every year to see its record-high waterfalls, climb its mammoth-sized granite rocks and hike miles of beautiful trails. But Yosemite’s popularity could actually be threatening the park’s natural habitats.
Has anything surprised you about the park?
Brian Liesch: Sadly, I would say how many people are here. I wasn’t expecting that many people.
Scott Geidiman: Our destination today is the tope of Vernal Fall.
Maggie: Park Ranger Scott Geidiman took us out on one of Yosemite’s most well-loved trails.
The Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls sees more than 2,000 hikers every day. That is more than 60,000 in a month.
So this is why they call it the Mist Trail!
Ranger Scott: This is. We’re feeling the mist.
Maggie: So what do you do to make sure that the nature stays intact?
Ranger Scott: Well, we have established trails, so we ask people to stay on the trails. It’s always that balancing act. We want to invite visitors, but we also want them to preserve and protect the natural resources here.
Maggie: And to help preserve the park, more than twenty miles of the well-loved hiking paths are paved, and boardwalks have been built over meadows and streams. To unclog Yosemite’s traffic jams, visitors can catch a ride on the park’s free hybrid shuttle bus system.
Another popular part of the park is Yosemite’s famous granite cliffs. At more than 3,500 feet, Yosemite’s El Capitan is one of the world’s largest granite monoliths, meaning it is made up of one solid piece of rock. It is a favorite challenge for rock climbers all around the world.
Maggie: So we keep hearing that it’s all about El Cap, and since I am in Yosemite, I am going to climb it!
Ok. So I might not be ready for El Cap just yet. But after a crash course in mountain climbing, I was ready for my beginner mountain. So I got all geared up, practiced my technique, did a test run and was ready for my very first climb.
Who is in charge of saving my life?
And while some of my rock climbing maneuvers were a bit unconventional, just like thousands of other climbers, I finally made it to the top! Woo!
Unfortunately, this worldwide love for Yosemite is wearing down the park’s famous rocks. All those boots are contributing to the destruction of cliffside vegetation, soil erosion and marking up rock walls.
What do you do to keep up with all these climbers?
Ranger Scott: Climbing is a very self-regulated sport.
Maggie: So, there is some trust involved.
Ranger Scott: There is some trust involved. Among climbers and everyone in Yosemite, there is a certain etiquette. We try to instill among visitors don’t litter, leave no trace, have minimum impact.
Maggie: As a park visitor myself, I wanted to check out more of what Yosemite had to offer. But after a full day of hiking and climbing, it was time I let someone else do the work. Meet Sandy.
I am totally fulfilling my cowgirl dream right now.
Relaxing on horseback and taking in the magnificent views that the park has to offer, it is easy to see why millions visit Yosemite.
Do you think it sort of affects the magic of the park to see so many people?
Brian: Well, it takes it away but at the same time I’m glad to see this many people enjoying all the great outdoors.
Maggie: Why do you love this so much?
Ranger Scott: This is my absolute favorite spot in Yosemite Valley. This, to me, just screams Yosemite. This is what the park is all about. In my opinion, Yosemite looks as great as it ever has.
Maggie: One, two, three… Yosemite! Woo!
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.