What is America’s Best Idea?

It’s the 125th anniversary of "America’s Best Idea"… but what is it?

It was writer and historian Wallace Stegner who first called America’s National Parks “the best idea we ever had”.

Today marks exactly 125 years since the iconic Yosemite National Park was established on 1 October 1890.

Spanning almost 3,000 square kilometres, this United National World Heritage Site is a breath-taking oasis for hundreds of wildlife species including black bears, coyotes, mountain lions and bobcats.

Insects are the most abundant animal species in the park, including two recently discovered species that are believed to exist nowhere else in the world.

While best known for its waterfalls, Yosemite National Park also boasts wide meadows, deep valleys, 3,000-year-old trees and much more.

As one of the “crown jewels” in America’s National Park Service, Yosemite welcomes 4 million visitors each year.

As naturalist John Muir once wrote, “No temple made with human hands can compare with Yosemite.”

Like natural environments all around the world, Yosemite is not immune to challenges like climate change, wildfires and pollution, but the park’s environment is considered to be a relatively healthy one.

Global warming during the past 30 years has resulted in thinner snowpacks in the Yosemite region.

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit