Graeme Churchard, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Graeme Churchard, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

11 Iconic Facts About Yosemite National Park

Graeme Churchard, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Graeme Churchard, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Yosemite National Park is internationally known for its spectacular waterfalls, soaring monoliths (El Capitan and Half Dome might ring a bell), and overall stunning landscape, but there’s more to this California park’s history than its naturally picturesque views.

1. IT WAS HOME TO THE COUNTRY’S FIRST PARK GUARDIAN.

Outdoorsman and conservationist Galen Clark wasn’t the first person to find Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove, but he is thought to be the first person to count and record the giant sequoias there. In 1864, Abraham Lincoln transferred the future Yosemite park to the state of California, and two years later Clark was named the guardian of Yosemite, a role that allowed him to educate park visitors and conserve the wilderness he loved. He is buried in the Valley Cemetery surrounded by sequoias he planted.

2.WHEN THE TIMING IS RIGHT, ONE OF THE PARK’S WATERFALLS GLOWS.

Andrew Kearns, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

On evenings in mid- to late February, some visitors are lucky enough to spot the glow of Horsetail Fall, shining like a ribbon of fire down the side of the cliff. The way the setting sun hits the water gives it the appearance of being aflame. For the best view, set up in (or just east of) the El Capitan picnic area.

3. IT IS REVERED AS THE BIRTH PLACE OF ROCK CLIMBING FOR SPORT.


Yosemite’s granite monoliths and challenging climbs make the park a major attraction for rock climbers. In the years after World War II, adventurous visitors have flocked to Camp 4, a campsite in the park known for welcoming some of history’s most famous climbers while they conquered the granite walls. Both amateur and world-class athletes have trained, traded techniques, and set up shop at the grounds, which earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

4. BUFFALO SOLDIERS WERE SOME OF THE PARK’S FIRST PROTECTORS.

The Buffalo Soldiers were African-American Army soldiers who in 1899 were assigned to patrol Yosemite and other protected areas in the West. The successful military regiment became some of the country’s first backcountry rangers and had several responsibilities, among them protecting Yosemite from poachers and fighting forest fires.

5. YOSEMITE’S MOST FAMOUS HOTEL WAS USED AS A WARTIME HOSPITAL.

Ray Bouknight, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When socialites of the late 1920's rejected the primitive lodgings in the area, the idea for the Ahwahnee Hotel, a luxury hotel on park grounds, was born. Years later, it was leased by the U.S. Navy to serve as a naval hospital during World War II. The facility was originally meant for psychiatric rehab but transitioned to offering more holistic treatments for patients.

6.THERE’S COMPETITION FOR SOME OF THE MORE COMFORTABLE CAMPSITES.

Yosemite offers a select number of High Sierra campsites for those who want to backpack through the high country during the day without worrying about where to camp at night. Each camp provides meals, clean water, and access to bathrooms and canvas tents (complete with comfy beds and wood-burning stoves). You'll have to enter a lottery system to nab one of these in-demand sites.

7. THE SODA SPRINGS CABIN IS NO PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK.

The Soda Springs Cabin is a small historic structure built in the late 19th century by John Baptiste Lembert, the first white man to settle in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. The roofless cabin protects the Soda Springs, which are named for their gaseous, bubbling nature.

8. DRIVING THROUGH ITS TREES WAS A POPULAR PASTIME.

One of Yosemite’s most famous giant sequoias was the Wawona Tunnel Tree. Located in Galen Clark’s beloved Mariposa Grove, the Wawona tunnel was carved in 1881 and was a favorite photo op for tourists until a snow storm knocked the tree down in 1969. Luckily, you can still visit the aptly renamed Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree.

9. YOSEMITE COULD HAVE BEEN THE SITE OF WORLD-CLASS WINTER SPORTS.

Originally considered a summer destination, Yosemite became a popular location for winter sports in the early 20th century. The park’s improved winter activity offerings inspired Yosemite’s bid to host the 1932 Winter Olympics. Though the event was held in the United States, the honor went to Lake Placid, New York instead.

10. THE YOSEMITE FIREFALL WAS POPULAR, BUT IT WASN’T NATURAL.

The Yosemite Firefall began in 1872 when James McCauley, owner of the Glacier Point Hotel, first pushed a torrent of campfire embers from the top of Glacier Point. Though the tradition was stopped and restarted several times over the course of nearly a century, the unique bonfire remained a popular tourist attraction until 1968, when the National Park Service officially shut it down.

11. YOSEMITE’S HOLIDAY TRADITIONS ARE ROOTED IN THE RENAISSANCE.

Getty Images

Described as a Renaissance pageant, the Bracebridge Dinner has been a holiday tradition at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel since 1927. Famed photographer Ansel Adams, who lived in the Yosemite Valley part-time, directed the elaborate dinner production from 1929 to 1973 and often appeared as the Major Domo.

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The World’s 10 Most Beautiful Metro Stations
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden

Some of the most beautiful places on earth lie just below the surface. For proof, look no further than T-Centralen in Stockholm, Sweden, which has just been named the most beautiful metro station in the world by Expedia.

The travel site used Google Trends to analyze the most-mentioned metro stations in the U.S. and Europe, but Expedia ultimately chose the order of its top 10 list and threw in a couple of other hidden gems. Russia and Sweden frequently popped up in their research, so it’s no surprise that stations in those countries secured the top two spots on Expedia's list.

Dubbed “the blue platform,” T-Centralen is the main station of Stockholm’s subway system, and it’s also one of the most ornate. Royal blue flowers and plant patterns creep up cave-like walls, and another section pays tribute to the workers who helped build the Metro. It has been suggested that the color blue was chosen to help commuters feel calmer as they go about their busy days.

A section of T-Centralen
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It was the first station in Sweden to feature artwork, which stemmed from a 1956 competition to decorate the city’s metro stops. Over the years, more than 20 artists have contributed their work to various stations throughout the city, some of which have tackled important social and environmental themes like women’s rights, inclusivity, and deforestation.

In second place is Moscow’s Kosomolskaya Station, which also has an interesting origin story. When the Metro started operating in 1935, it was designed to help promote Soviet propaganda. Kosomolskaya Station, named for workers of the Komsomol youth league who helped build the first Metro line, had marble walls with gilded mosaics, crystal chandeliers, sculptures of fallen leaders, and painted scenes depicting important moments in Russian history. “Unlike the dirty, utilitarian systems of many cities around the world, the Moscow metro drives through a former—but not forgotten—stage of history that sought to bring palaces to the masses,” Expedia’s report states.

Komsomolskaya Station
Komsomolskaya Station in Moscow, Russia

Most of the stations on Expedia’s list are in Europe, but three are in the U.S., including two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.

Here’s the full top 10 list:

1. T-Centralen Station (Stockholm, Sweden)
2. Kosomolskaya Station (Moscow, Russia)
3. Arts Et Métiers Station (Paris, France)
4. The Wesfriedhof Station (Munich, Germany)
5. Toledo Metro Station (Naples, Italy)
6. Staromestska Station (Prague, Czech Republic)
7. Metro Center Station (Washington, D.C, USA)
8. Mayakovskaya station (Moscow, Russia)
9. Abandoned City Hall Station (New York, USA)
10. New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (New York, USA)

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iStock
Attention Business Travelers: These Are the Countries With the Fastest Internet
iStock
iStock

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, high-speed internet seems like a necessity when you’re trying to connect with colleagues or loved ones back home. Of course, the quality of that connection largely depends on what part of the world you’re in—and if you want the best internet on earth, you’ll have to head to Asia.

Singapore might be smaller than New York City, but it has the fastest internet of any country, Travel + Leisure reports. The city-state received the highest rating from the World Broadband Speed League, an annual ranking conducted by UK analyst Cable. For the report, Cable tracked broadband speeds in 200 countries over several 12-month periods to get an average.

Three Scandinavian countries—Sweden, Denmark, and Norway—followed closely behind Singapore. And while the U.S. has the fastest broadband in North America, it comes in 20th place for internet speed globally, falling behind Asian territories like Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as European countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Spain. On the bright side, though, the U.S. is up one place from last year’s ranking.

In the case of Singapore, the country’s small size works to its advantage. As a financial hub in Asia, it depends heavily on its digital infrastructure, and as a result, “there is economic necessity, coupled with the relative ease of delivering high-speed connections across a small area,” Cable notes in its report. Within Singapore, 82 percent of residents have internet access.

Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, on the other hand, have all focused on FTTP (Fiber to the Premises) connections, and this has boosted internet speeds.

Overall, global broadband speeds are rising, and they improved by 23 percent from 2017 to 2018. However, much of this progress is seen in countries that are already developed, while underdeveloped countries still lag far behind.

“Europe, the United States, and thriving economic centers in the Asia-Pacific region (Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) are leading the world when it comes to the provision of fast, reliable broadband, which suggests a relationship between available bandwidth and economic health,” Dan Howdle, Cable’s consumer telecoms analyst, said in a statement. “Those countries leading the world should be congratulated, but we should also be conscious of those that are being left further and further behind."

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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