The Mountains are Calling: Tourists and the Unmaking of Yosemite National Park

 

IMG_0671

Following climate change, visitors present the largest threat to Yosemite National Park’s future.

Drawn by the park’s beauty, more than five million entered the park last summer alone. This deluge of people, combined with the historical promise that every generation can enjoy Yosemite, has caused far more environmental damage within Yosemite National Park than the flooding of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. How did we get here?

The first tourist party entered the Yosemite Valley in 1855. Lured by tales of the mysterious valley’s beauty, the six men spent several days and nights exploring its granite walls and towering water falls.

In the one hundred and fifty years since, generations of visitors have followed that first group in exploring the Yosemite. Their swelling numbers becoming the most pressing issue facing the park today, pitting environmental limits against visitor’s deeply personal connections to the iconic National Park.

Under contract with the University of Nevada Press, “The Mountains are Calling: Tourists and the Unmaking of Yosemite National Park” tells Yosemite’s history through the experiences of it’s visitors in untangling the environmental costs of mass tourism and our romantic attachment to this amazing place.

Yosemite Museum Nature Library Plate AdjustedMany of the tales will be familiar to readers, including the removal of Native peoples from the park, it almost instantaneous emergence as a global tourist destination in the 19th century, the invention of rock climbing within the Yosemite Valley, and the Stoneman Meadow riots.

Other stories include the tale of a family wrecked over the loss of their son in the Pacific during World War II seeking solace on a hike to Vernal Falls, a fist fight been cross-country skiers and snowmobilers over access to Tuolumne Meadows, and how the death of a hiker changed how the NPS manages access Half Dome.