Contemplating Nature: Tourist Encounters with Yosemite National Park



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, “Contemplating Nature: Tourist Encounters with Yosemite National Park” will tell the story of the iconic park through the experiences of it’s visitors  and the troubles of our expanding expectations of recreational access within the National Parks.

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 controversy surrounding the Merced River Plan.

Through telling these stories I look to tell Yosemite’s story as its visitors experienced it, and how the National Park Service struggled in meeting visitor’s ever-changing expectations of what is, and is not, appropriate within one of the world’s most iconic National Parks.