Yosemite is not just massive slabs of granite jutting out of the ground. Lush meadows are rolled out like carpet throughout the park. Yosemite Valley has some of the most beautiful grasslands you will see for hundreds of miles. In some areas, the grass is almost fluorescent in its glow as the sun’s rays illuminate it on a cloudless day.
With so much vegetation, area wildlife has a full menu of food to choose from. Grass, oats and rotting logs filled with insects and worms give predators a smorgasbord of fuel to get through the cold winters.
The Tioga Road, which runs east/west through Yosemite is only open during the summer season. In Yosemite, summer might not start till late June or sometime in July. Work crews may have to clear several feet of snow around Memorial Day weekend so the road may be open for visitors.
Tuolumne Meadows is a gorgeous, wide open landscape on Tioga Road.
Lembert Dome is very popular with climbers.
Walking across these marshy expanses can be treacherous. Not that you will be mauled by bears, but the mosquitos will attack you in droves as soon as you try to cross these wetlands. The soil is extremely wet and you are advised to keep off the middle of the grasslands as much as possible. The national park service does its best to minimize the impact that visitors have on the environment and wildlife in the parks. Staying on designated trails is an important rule that must be followed to maintain the ecosystem.
These pictures were taken in July 2010. Snow is usually still visible on the higher elevations and in shady areas of lower elevations. In years where the snow pack has been significant, flow to the waterfalls can be heavy through the beginning of August. This also benefits these meadows as they soak up huge amounts of water.
There are times where fires can ravage a park. Prescribed burns are conducted by the park service to eliminate useless scrub brush and strengthen all living areas of the parks. Despite their best efforts, fires still destroy acres of park land in the US every year. It may take decades after a fire to restore the full vibrancy of an area devastated by a fire. Grasslands can help in the meantime with preventing soil erosion as larger trees and bushes begin to grow back to their regular size. Mother nature always finds a way to heal herself.
Have you been to any of these meadows? Which one is your favorite and why?
For more information about Yosemite National Park, click the link below.