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Above: Photo by Parks in Focus participant Jenny (age 12), courtesy of the Udall Foundation.

A wintry valentine in Yosemite Valley. Photo: Casey Horner.

Roses are red,
violets are blue,⁣⁣
if you love Yosemite,
this poem’s for you!

There are lots of reasons to love Yosemite. You’ll find hiking options for every mood: short meanders by the Merced River, heart-pounding day hikes to epic views, extended backpacking treks in remote wilderness. It’s a world-class destination for rock climbing, photography and bird-watching, and for spending entire afternoons watching sunbeams and shadows slowly mark the hours on granite walls.

You might love Yosemite for its biodiversity. The park supports more than 400 vertebrate species; countless dragonflies, beetles, butterflies and other invertebrates; and plants of all shapes and sizes, from 200-foot-tall giant sequoias, to hardy high-elevation krummholz trees, to chlorophyll-free snow plants that add scarlet splashes to the forest floor.

Yosemite is breathtakingly beautiful, of course, in the truest sense of the word. When you gasp at the sight of Bridalveil Fall plunging into rainbow mist, or at the reflection of Cathedral Peak in one of its namesake lakes, you might need to remind yourself to exhale. Yes, it’s really that stunning.

(You might lose your breath on the Mist Trail’s steep stone steps or the final stretch to the top of Mt. Hoffmann, too, and not just because of the scenery.)

And did we mention Yosemite helped inspire the national park idea?

We could wax poetic about the park’s wonders all day … but instead, we’re going to turn it over to  some other Yosemite fans. Thank you to all the park admirers who answered our call for Yosemite valentines! We loved learning what you love about the park — here are just a few of the poems you shared.

A pastel-hued Yosemite Valley sunrise, from Tunnel View. Photo: David Grimes.

 

the skin turns taut, goes goose
the tanager on the cow’s parsnip opens her throat
water tumbles down as light glides up
and morning arrives, cool and bright

walk there
thigh-brushed by meadow grass
the buzz of your humanity
slides off like water on granite

and your body remembers
the dust from which it arose
black oaks become brothers
the emerald pooling river, mercy

this is the life you’re offered
drink it up
call out your true, secret name
leave your hand printed in the mud

this is the world you are given
every golden pine needle
every bobcat’s tail
caught slinking beneath the cabin steps

all these things are yours
and you are theirs.
Morning rises, becomes day –
The sun is a star who loves you

— “Sunrise, Yosemite Valley,” by Glenn Scofield Williams

A Yosemite tree embraces its moment in the snowy spotlight. Photo: Theresa Ratermann.

 

Ode to the little puffer snow
It puffers all the day
Up the trees and down the hills
It makes for a beautiful day!

— Kathryn Hartman

Can you spot the heart on the side of El Capitan? Photo: Josh Helling.

 

Roots grasping, trunks growing,
Trees reaching, branches spreading,
Streams flowing, stones tumbling,
Birds singing, wings soaring,
Water falling, mist rising,
Cliffs converging, mountains climbing,
Sun shining, rays gleaming,
Heart warming, smile beaming…
Is this what Eden’s meant to be?
Oh, how I love Yosemite!

— Susan Hensley

El Capitan doesn’t have the only rocky heart in the park … a research crew found this one in the Clark Range in March 2019, during a survey focused on the rare Sierra Nevada red fox. Photo: NPS/Toren Johnson.

Giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove. Photo: Carolyn Botell.

 

For the mighty storm, it is time to go,
Leaving age-old trees powdered with snow,
And granite monoliths shrouded in mist;
The timeworn valley will again be sun-kissed.

One man noticed and captured the scene;
The sky was a sea of azure mixed with green.
A single day in this valley’s story
Frozen in all its golden glory.

Soon, the waterfalls will run again,
And the animals will come out of their dens
To feel the chill and smell of spring
And hear the songbirds start to sing.

But springtime is not here yet
The valley’s beauty is not met
The immense sequoias are a sight
Illuminated in the moonlight.

El Capitan rises above the rest,
A climber halfway through his quest,
Continuing under star speckled skies
Not waiting for the sun to rise.

The sun rises on the valley carved by ice,
A mountaineer’s haven, paradise.
The valley is safe for eternity,
King of the rest, Yosemite.

— “Awe,” by Nathan Holst-Rightley

A rosy autumn sunset on Mt. Starr King. Photo: Carolyn Botell.

 

What do you love about Yosemite? Let us know on social media (we’re @YosemiteConservancy on Facebook and Instagram, and @YoseConservancy on Twitter)! And if you’re looking for a way to show the park (or your favorite park fan) that you care this Valentine’s Day, make a gift to support important work in Yosemite.