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Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks

Far from the glitter of Hollywood, the eastern border of California is home to two of the greatest natural treasures to be found in the United States. Following the heels of thousands who headed west during the Gold Rush of 1848, a string of artists and photographers documented « the Incomparable Valley » of Yosemite and brought forth a well of tourists. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill turning the land into an inalienable public trust, which was followed by the creation of the 1,200 square mile Yosemite National Park, one of the nation’s first, in 1890. Since then, a continual battle has been fought to balance the impact of tourism (which reached to over 4 million visitors a year in the 1990’s) with the preservation of this spectacular area, which was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984. A three-hour drive to the South, the Sequoia National Park is renowned for being home to the world’s largest trees. The Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is truly the most awesome species in the Sierra Nevada ecosystem, many of which are up to 3000 years old and can measure 300 feet tall.