Glorious, 1,189 square mile Yosemite National Park, legendary for its magnificent granite cliffs, crystal clear streams and waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and three remaining Giant Sequoia groves and immortalized time and again in artistic rendition is a beloved destination for groups of adventurers on California excursion. Natural attractions Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel Dome and the Tunnel View draw hordes of hikers, rock climbers and photographers annually; the beautiful high country affords visitors first rate views of the spellbinding scenery of Tuolumne and Dana Meadows, the Clark and Cathedral Ranges and the Kuna Crest. Almost 95% designated wilderness area, the park is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, supporting a wide diversity of native plants and animals, and contains five major vegetation zones: chaparral/oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone, and alpine. Of California’s 7,000 plant species, approximately half occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% of them within Yosemite. Originally occupied by indigenous Paiute and Sierra Miwok peoples, the area has been populated for over 3000 years, long before the Gold Rush brought floods of prospectors, who wrestled with the native inhabitants for possession of the lands rich with valuable natural resources. Scottish-born naturalist John Muir published a series of articles popularizing the area, thereby generating scientific interest in it, and ultimately convinced the State of California to protect the land from overgrazing, logging and misuse; Yosemite National Park was created in 1891, although California retained control of the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove; poor stewardship saw their steady-and alarming-decline. Consistent efforts by Muir and his Sierra Club culminated with a three-day Yosemite “camping” trip with President Theodore Roosevelt near Glacier Point, during which time he managed to convince the President to take control of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. Roosevelt’s eventual signing of a bill in 1903 returned the Valley and Grove to the federal government, halting their destruction.