For the Teacher

Unit Objectives
  • Examine and evaluate first person accounts of initial encounters with Yosemite and efforts to preserve it.
  • Understand the impact that personal narrative and art work have had in the creation and continued preservation of the nation's national parks.
  • Examine some of the issues involved in protecting and managing Yosemite and other national parks.
  • Analyze issues related to the long term management of one of the nation's parks.
Related National Standards
Common Core standards apply to the activities in this unit.
Identify those that are appropriate to the particular materials you select to use
from this set of history related standards compiled as part of the
American Social History Project City University of New York.

Common Core

GIS Activities

GIS investigations are part of many of the activities in this unit. These investigations make use of ArcGIS Online, an internet software that runs on most browsers. If you do not have an an ArcGIS account and would like to have one you can sign up for a free personal account here.

The Yosemite Project files are also available to download for ArcGIS Desktop:

Download Yosemite Project Data

The data and shapefiles in the various map layers are from a variety of sources:

California Relief Map, California Counties, California Rivers & Lakes

Information Related to Early Yosemite Trails

Lafayette H. Bunnell. "Map of the Yo-Semite Valley." in Discovery of the Yosemite. New York: F H Revell Company, 1892.

Linda W. Greene. "Early Trails." and "Historical Base Map of Roads and Trails, Yosemite National Park." in Yosemite: The Park and Its Resources. Yosemite National Park, California: National Park Service, 1987.

Thomas Frederick Howard, Sierra Crossing: First Roads to California, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Zenas Leonard. Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard. Clearfield, Pennsylvania: D. W. Moore, 1839.

Tredwell Moore. "Reports from Lt. Tredwell Moore to the Pacific Division on the Mariposa Indian War of 1852." as found in Thomas C. Fletcher, Paiute, Prospector, Pioneer: The Bodie-Mono Lake Area in the Nineteenth Century, (Lee Vining, California: Artemisia Press, 1987.

Carl P Russell. "The Geography of the Mariposa Indian War." in Yosemite Nature Notes. XXX(3,4,6,7), 1951.

Carl P Russell. "Sketch Map of the Yosemite Region." One Hundred Years in Yosemite. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1932

U.S. Geological Survey, "Yosemite (1911) and Mt. Lyell (1901) Quadrangle 30-minute topographic maps", available at the Historic Topographic Maps of California, University of California, Berkeley Library.

Yosemite Boundary File & Yosemite Lakes Plants, and Dams

“Boundary of Yosemite National Park, California,” available from the National Park Service Geography and Mapping Technologies, Geographic Information Systems web page.

Yosemite Area

clipped from “30m Color Hillshade of California,” available from California State Geoportal

Yosemite Topographic Map

Topographic map of Yosemite National Park, California / from Geological Survey maps surveyed between 1893 and 1909,” available from the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.

Additional resources

Those interested in learning more will find that the Internet offers a variety of interesting materials.

Yosemite National Park

Visit the Yosemite National Park Web pages to learn more about the history of this geological wonder. Included on the site are details on the history and geology of the park, photo galleries, educational resources, and much more. The Yosemite Web is a tremendous resource of both primary and secondary resources about Yosemite. The web site of the Yosemite Conservancy is also a valuable resource.

The National Park Idea

The United States created the world's first national park (Yellowstone), as well as the first national park system. The National Parks: Shaping the System explores the evolution of the "national park idea."

U.S. Geological Survey

The Geologic Story of Yosemite Valley is an essay from the U.S. Geological survey outlining the geologic history of Yosemite Valley. It touching on the roles of erosion and glacial action in carving the granite features of the park.

Library of Congress: American Memory Collection

Search the American Memory Collection for resources on Yosemite National Park.

For Further Reading

Students and educators wishing to learn more about Yosemite may want to read the following: Alfred Runte, Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness (University of Nebraska Press, 1990). Carl Parcher Russell, One Hundred Years in Yosemite; The Story of a Great Park and Its Friends 2d. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1947).


    Your comments and suggestion about these materials are more than welcome.

    If you have ideas for additional topics that would lend themselves to the approach taken here, please pass them along. I'd enjoy collaborating with you.

Last modified in June, 2019 by Rick Thomas