Debbie Croft: Celebrate Yosemite’s 150th anniversary

Yosemite National Park became the first section of nationally protected American land set aside for the purpose of preservation and public use. The park encompasses more than 760,000 acres of Sierra Nevada wilderness beauty.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act. President Abraham Lincoln signed the resolution June 30, 1864. This established the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Yosemite Valley as part of our national heritage.

The National Park Service also recognizes several other upcoming anniversaries:

• Sept. 2, 2014 – 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

• Sept. 28, 2014 – 30th anniversary of the California Wilderness Act.

• Oct. 1, 2015 – 125th anniversary of Yosemite National Park.

• Aug. 25, 2016 – 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

If you’re looking for another reason to visit the park, or would like to participate in commemorating these milestones, you may be interested in the following upcoming regional events:

• Hotel Charlotte in Groveland will hold a dinner theater from 5 to 10 p.m. Jan. 18. “Yosemite Is the True Gold” will feature a dinner menu typical of the Gold Rush era and a program about the people who migrated to the region in search of gold. For details or reservations, call (800) 961-7799 or email

• Snowshoe Yosemite with veteran ranger Dick Ewart in the Mariposa Grove. There’s still time to register for this weekend excursion, to be held Jan. 10 to Jan. 12. Lodging is available at Yosemite Valley’s Upper Pines Campground and at Yosemite Lodge. The trip is recommended for adults and mature teens, with a difficulty level of moderate to challenging, depending on snow conditions.

• A Backpacking for Beginners program is being offered Jan. 18 in Yosemite Valley. Topics covered will include: types of equipment, skills and techniques, packing food and water, how to use backpacking gear, and how to avoid confrontations with bears. The program is part of a weekend experience package that includes camping or lodging. For either of these events, go to

or call (209) 379-2317 for more information.

• Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holidays event is a Northern California culinary adventure. More than two dozen acclaimed chefs from the East Coast to the West Coast will gather at the Ahwahnee Hotel from Jan. 12 through Feb. 6. Expert skill and mouth-watering cuisine are only part of what brings guests to the Ahwahnee this time of year.

Eight sessions will take place during the 3 1/2-week series. Each session offers cooking demonstrations and tastings, a meet-the-chef reception, a tour of Ahwahnee’s 8,000-square-foot kitchen and a gala dinner. Contact or call (801) 559-4884 to make a reservation.

For current information about other commemorative park events in surrounding Sierra communities, go to to view the calendar of activities.

“Inspiring Generations” is a newly published anthology commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant. The book contains 150 personal stories of Yosemite experiences written by visitors, residents and employees.

On the pages are tales of Half Dome hikes, waterfall and firefall adventures, confrontations with wildlife, plus so much more. All are uplifting, from the historic to the humorous.

The Mariposa Storytelling Festival in March will commemorate the book’s formal release. “Inspiring Generations” is currently available for purchase through the Yosemite Conservancy, It also can be pre-ordered at