Yosemite National Park is located in the central Sierra Nevada of California and lies 150 miles east of San Francisco and only a six hour drive from Los Angeles . Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, and biological diversity. The 750,000-acre, 1,200 square-mile park contains thousands of lakes and ponds, 1600 miles of streams, 800 miles of hiking trails, and 350 miles of roads. Two federally designated wild and scenic rivers, the Merced and Tuolumne , begin within Yosemite 's borders and flow west into California 's Central Valley . Annual park visitation exceeds 3.5 million, with most visitor use concentrated in the seven square mile area of Yosemite Valley .
The park's 1980 General Management Plan outlines the purpose, goals, and objectives of Yosemite National Park . The plan gives two primary purposes for Yosemite National Park . The first is preservation of the resources that contribute to Yosemite's uniqueness and attractiveness - its exquisite scenic beauty; outstanding wilderness values; a nearly full representation of Sierra Nevada environments, including rare and beautiful sequoia groves; the granite domes, valleys, polished granites, and other evidence of the geologic processes that formed the Sierra Nevada; historic resources, especially those related to the beginnings of a national conservation ethic; and prehistoric evidence of the Indians who lived on the land for thousands of years. The second purpose is to make the varied resources of Yosemite available to people for their enjoyment, education, and recreation, now and in the future.