Planning to visit California’s most beautiful national park, Yosemite?
Yosemite defies even my extremely over-ambitious fingers to write about. The scale of it is unbelievable; the sights unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to listen to me trying to fumble for the right words to describe Yosemite — I’ve gathered quotes about Yosemite from some of the greats, including John Muir and Ansel Adams, two people who adored Yosemite more than any place in the world.
I’ve also gathered more Yosemite quotes from lesser-known sources and curated a few funny Yosemite disappointment quotes because hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion!
Here are my favorite quotes about Yosemite, one of America’s most stunning national parks.
Yosemite Quotes by John Muir
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“[Yosemite] is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” ― John Muir
“Ever since the establishment of the Yosemite National Park, strife has been going on around its borders and I suppose this will go on as part of the universal battle between right and wrong, however much of its boundaries may be shorn, or its wild beauty destroyed.” ― John Muir
“Yosemite Park… None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.” ― John Muir
“It is easier to feel than to realize, or in any way explain, Yosemite’s grandeur. The magnitudes of the rocks and trees and streams are so delicately harmonized, they are mostly hidden.” ― John Muir
“I must return to the mountains-to Yosemite. I am told that the winter storms there will not be easily borne, but I am bewitched, enchanted, and tomorrow I must start for the great temple to listen to the winter songs and sermons preached and sung only there.” ― John Muir
“A queer fellow and a jolly fellow is the grasshopper. Up the mountains he comes on excursions, how high I don’t know, but at least as far and high as Yosemite tourists.” ― John Muir
“No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life…as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures.” ― John Muir
“The coniferous forests of the Yosemite Park, and of the Sierra in general, surpass all others of their kind in America, or indeed the world, not only in the size and beauty of the trees, but in the number of species assembled together, and the grandeur of the mountains they are growing on.” ― John Muir
“Down through the middle of the [Yosemite] Valley flows the crystal Merced, River of Mercy, peacefully quiet, reflecting lilies and trees and the onlooking rocks; things frail and fleeting and types of endurance meeting here and blending in countless forms, as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.”― John Muir
“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be-still kind. Your animal fellow beings, so seldom regarded in civilization, and every rock-brow and mountain, stream, and lake, and every plant soon come to be regarded as brothers; even one learns to like the storms and clouds and tireless winds.” ― John Muir
“Ink cannot tell the glow that lights me at this moment in turning to the mountains. I feel strong [enough] to leap Yosemite walls at a bound.” ― John Muir
Yosemite Quotes by Ansel Adams
“I knew my destiny when I first experienced Yosemite.” ― Ansel Adams
“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” ― Ansel Adams
“The great rocks of Yosemite, expressing qualities of timeless yet intimate grandeur, are the most compelling formations of their kind. We should not casually pass them by, for they are the very heart of the earth speaking to us.” ― Ansel Adams
Yosemite Quotes by Theodore Roosevelt
“[Camping in Yosemite] was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.” ― President Theodore Roosevelt
“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.” ― President Theodore Roosevelt
Assorted Beautiful & Interesting Quotes about Yosemite National Park
“When I was about fifteen, I went to work at Yosemite National Park. It changed me forever. Nature had carved its own sculpture, and I was part of it, not the other way around.” ― Robert Redford
“The parks do not belong to one state or to one section. They have become democratized. The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.” ― Stephen Tyng Mather
“There are times when you sit down, and you’re just like, ‘Man, I don’t know if I can do it right now.’ Take a second – go to the woods and just hang out, or go to Yosemite and check it out. Be in nature for a little while; clock out – which is super healthy, especially for creative types. Honestly, for everyone. Everyone needs that at times.” ― Ross Lynch
“In Yosemite, we see how everyone can inherit the earth. But that gift requires a change of heart, a new intention, a deliberate turning. From now on, we must go forward, back into the world of violence and war, to do our part to end the killing, the suffering, and the ongoing destruction of Mother Earth. Yosemite, along with all of creation, calls us to wake up, stand up, and stop the insane destruction of the earth before it’s too late.” ― John Dear
“Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands. That’s right. Even if you don’t own a house or the latest computer on the market, you own Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and many other natural treasures.” ―John Garamendi
“The story is, a man came up to Yosemite and the ranger was sitting at the front gate and the man said, “I’ve only got one hour to see Yosemite. If you only had one hour to see Yosemite, what would you do?” And the ranger said, “Well, I’d go right over there, and I’d sit on that rock, and I’d cry.” ― Dayton Duncan
“I spent two summers working at Camp Curry and at Yosemite Lodge as a waiter. It gave me a chance to really be there every day – to hike up to Vernal Falls or Nevada Falls. It just took me really deep into it. Yosemite claimed me.” ― Robert Redford
“A perfect day would be to get into the car, drive out to Yosemite and go camping.” ― Michael Steger
“I crave time in Yosemite like I crave food and water.” ― Tommy Caldwell
“From an early age, Yosemite became the centre of my universe. I’ve been going every summer since I was a child. I love everything about that place: waterfalls, high-quality rock, history.” ― Tommy Caldwell
Yosemite Quotes About Climbing
“As I hammered in the last bolt and staggered over the rim, it was not at all clear to me who was the conqueror and who was the conquered. I do recall that El Cap seemed to be in much better condition than I was.” ― Warren G. Harding
“Your legs feel like fried bacon after a day of climbing and descending. It’s a roller coaster ride, but no one is pulling you up the mountain. You’re headed toward Yosemite more than 4,000 feet of pounding the pedals. You are aware of every movement because your thighs feel tender with a sensation of pain. You push on, toward the final ascent into the valley. In front of you is a monster mountain-El Capitan. Your eyes grow wide. You take a deep breath. Suddenly, you feel only wonder.” ― Frosty Wooldridge
“Seven years ago, when I started free soloing long, hard routes in Yosemite – climbing without a rope, gear or a partner – I did it because it seemed like the purest, most elegant way to scale big walls. Climbing, especially soloing, felt like a grand adventure, but I never dreamed it could be a profession.” ― Alex Honnold
“Yosemite has the most impressive and accessible granite big walls in the world. The rock is amazing. And because of that, it’s been the mecca for climbing in the U.S. – and the world to a large degree – for all of climbing history. It’s the place to test yourself against the historic routes of the past.” ― Alex Honnold
“Just why is Yosemite climbing so different? Why does it have techniques, ethics and equipment all of its own? The basic reason lies in the rock itself. Nowhere else in the world is the rock so exfoliated, so glacier-polished and so devoid of handholds. All of the climbing lines follow vertical crack systems. Every piton crack, every handhold is a vertical one. Special techniques and equipment have evolved through absolute necessity.” ― Yvon Chouinard
“The future of Yosemite climbing lies not in Yosemite, but in using the new techniques in the great granite ranges of the world.” ― Yvon Chouinard
Quotes About Yosemite and Photography
“A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy.” ― Galen Rowell
“I began taking pictures in the natural world to be able to show people what I was experiencing when I climbed and explored in Yosemite in the High Sierra.” ― Galen Rowell
“I took a workshop… a few months after that. That experience changed my whole approach to photography. At that workshop in Yosemite in 1973 I decided I wanted to try and see if I could pursue this for myself, and I’m still trying.” ― John Sexton
“I went to Yosemite as an homage to Ansel Adams. I could never be Ansel Adams, but to know that’s there for us – there’s so much for us in this country.” ― Annie Leibovitz
Quotes About Disappointment with Yosemite
“As to scenery (giving my own thought and feeling), while I know the standard claim is that Yosemite, Niagara Falls, the Upper Yellowstone and the like afford the greatest natural shows, I am not so sure but the prairies and plains, while less stunning at first sight, last longer, fill the esthetic sense fuller, precede all the rest, and make North America’s characteristic landscape.” ― Walt Whitman
“I am free to confess that I am disappointed with the Yosemite valley. It seems only about one-half as grand as the American Fork canyon.” ― Heber J. Grant
“Yosemite Valley is like a tourist zoo. It’s shameful.” ― Michael Frome
“I can’t help thinking that if the American West were discovered today, the most glorious bits would be sold off to the highest bidder. Yosemite might be nothing but weekend homes for Internet tycoons.” ― Nicholas Kristof
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Allison Green is a travel blogger, writer, and podcaster who grew up in the Bay Area of California. She has spent time living in New York, Prague, and Sofia, where she currently calls home in between visits to California. She has traveled to 60 countries before the age of 30 while running several digital travel businesses. Her writing and podcast have been featured in Forbes, CBC Canada, National Geographic, the Huffington Post, and CNN Arabic, amongst others. She’s obsessed with dogs, wine, and anywhere she can see the ocean.