Top of Half Dome on Private Tour

Ever wonder what the view from the top of Half Dome looked like?

You’ve most likely heard about Yosemite National Park’s giant sequoia trees, massive waterfalls, stunning rock formations and verdant valley. Here are some of the lesser-known facts about the popular park:

Native tribes began populating Yosemite Valley more than 3,000 years ago.

Approximately 94% of Yosemite, which is comparable to the size of Rhode Island, is wilderness. Thus, while the park includes 214 miles of roads, it offers about 800 miles of trails for hiking.

When President Teddy Roosevelt visited the park with John Muir in 1903, the two nature lovers ditched his security detail and camped in the woods alone. As a result of that experience, Roosevelt went on to implement the national park system as well as a number of wildlife refuges and bird sanctuaries.

The highest elevation in Yosemite is over 13,000 feet. It’s in the Sierra Nevada, America’s highest and longest continuous mountain range.

Rock climbing has been popular in Yosemite since the 1880s. You need a permit (and only 300 are issued daily) and a lot of stamina to climb the challenging Half Dome. Plan to hike about 15 miles and climb 5,000 feet.

Concession stands have been gracing the national park since 1884, when a small general store and bakery opened.

Bodie Ghost Town

Technically not in Yosemite, the ghost town of Bodie is a nice addition to any road trip.

Yosemite National Park put in a bid to host the 1932 Winter Olympics, to no avail. It is the only national park to have ever made the attempt.

Among the 77 different types of mammals that roam Yosemite, 11 are considered endangered or threatened, including the Sierra Nevada red fox, the peregrine falcon, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, the great gray owl and the Yosemite toad.

Yosemite boasts approximately 20% of California’s more than 7,000 species of plants.

About three-quarters of Yosemite’s 4 million or so annual visitors from around the world show up between May and October.

Whatever time of year you visit Yosemite, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.