The wolf known as the grey/gray wolf or timber wolf, is a canine native to the wilderness and remote areas of Eurasia and North America. It is the largest extant member of its family, with males averaging 43 -- females 36 -- 38.5 kg. It is distinguished from other Canis species by its larger size and less pointed features on the ears and muzzle, its winter fur is long and bushy and predominantly a mottled gray in color, although nearly pure white and brown to black occur. Mammal Species of the World, a standard reference work in zoology, recognises 38 subspecies of C. lupus. The gray wolf is the second most specialized member of the genus Canis, after the Ethiopian wolf, as demonstrated by its morphological adaptations to hunting large prey, its more gregarious nature, its advanced expressive behavior, it is nonetheless related enough to smaller Canis species, such as the coyote, golden jackal, to produce fertile hybrids. It is the only species of Canis to have a range encompassing both Eurasia and North America, originated in Eurasia during the Pleistocene, colonizing North America on at least three separate occasions during the Rancholabrean.
It is a social animal, travelling in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair, accompanied by the pair's adult offspring. The gray wolf is an apex predator throughout its range, with only humans and tigers posing a serious threat to it, it feeds on large ungulates, though it eats smaller animals, livestock and garbage. A seven-year-old wolf is considered to be old, the maximum lifespan is about 16 years; the global gray wolf population is estimated to be 300,000. The gray wolf is one of the world's best-known and most-researched animals, with more books written about it than any other wildlife species, it has a long history of association with humans, having been despised and hunted in most pastoral communities because of its attacks on livestock, while conversely being respected in some agrarian and hunter-gatherer societies. Although the fear of wolves is pervasive in many human societies, the majority of recorded attacks on people have been attributed to animals suffering from rabies. Non-rabid wolves have attacked and killed people children, but this is rare, as wolves are few, live away from people, have developed a fear of humans from hunters and shepherds.
The English'wolf' stems from the Old English wulf, itself thought to be derived from the Proto-Germanic *wulfaz. The Latin lupus is a Sabine loanword. Both derive from the Proto-Indo-European root * lukwos; the species Canis lupus was first recorded by Carl Linnaeus in his publication Systema Naturae in 1758, with the Latin classification translating into the English words "dog wolf". The 37 subspecies of Canis lupus are listed under the designated common name of "wolf" in Mammal Species of the World, published in 2005; the nominate subspecies is the Eurasian wolf known as the common wolf. The subspecies includes the domestic dog, eastern wolf and red wolf, but lists C. l. italicus as a synonym of C. l. lupus. However, the classification of several as either species or subspecies has been challenged; the evolution of the wolf occurred over a geologic time scale of at least 300,000 years. The gray wolf Canis lupus is a adaptable species, able to exist in a range of environments and which possesses a wide distribution across the Holarctic.
Studies of modern gray wolves have identified distinct sub-populations that live in close proximity to each other. This variation in sub-populations is linked to differences in habitat – precipitation, temperature and prey specialization – which affect cranio-dental plasticity; the archaeological and paleontological records show gray wolf continuous presence for at least the last 300,000 years. This continuous presence contrasts with genomic analyses, which suggest that all modern wolves and dogs descend from a common ancestral wolf population that existed as as 20,000 years ago; these analyses indicate a population bottleneck, followed by a rapid radiation from an ancestral population at a time during, or just after, the Last Glacial Maximum. However, the geographic origin of this radiation is not known. In 2018, whole genome sequencing was used to compare members of the genus Canis, along with the dhole and the African hunting dog. There is evidence of gene flow between African golden wolves, golden jackals, gray wolves.
One African golden wolf from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula showed high admixture with the Middle Eastern gray wolves and dogs, highlighting the role of the land bridge between the African and Eurasian continents in canid evolution. There was evidence of gene flow between golden jackals and Middle Eastern wolves, less so with European and Asian wolves, least with North American wolves; the study proposes that the golden jackal ancestry found in North American wolves may have occurred before the divergence of the Eurasian and North American gray wolves. The study indicates that the common ancestor of the coyote and gray wolf has genetically admixed with a ghost population of an extinct unidentified canid; the canid is genetically close to the dhole and has evolved after the divergence of the African hunting dog from the other canid species. The basal position of the coyote compared to the wolf is proposed to be due to the coyote retaining more of the mitochondrial genome of this unknown canid.
In 2013, a genetic study found that the wolf population in Europe was divided along a north-south axis and formed five major clusters. Three clusters were identified occupying southern and
Sierra Nevada (U.S.)
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin. The vast majority of the range lies in the state of California, although the Carson Range spur lies in Nevada; the Sierra Nevada is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges that consists of an continuous sequence of such ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. The Sierra runs 400 miles north-to-south, is 70 miles across east-to-west. Notable Sierra features include the largest alpine lake in North America; the Sierra is home to three national parks, twenty wilderness areas, two national monuments. These areas include Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks; the character of the range is shaped by its ecology. More than one hundred million years ago during the Nevadan orogeny, granite formed deep underground; the range started to uplift four million years ago, erosion by glaciers exposed the granite and formed the light-colored mountains and cliffs that make up the range.
The uplift caused a wide range of elevations and climates in the Sierra Nevada, which are reflected by the presence of five life zones. Uplift continues due to faulting caused by tectonic forces, creating spectacular fault block escarpments along the eastern edge of the southern Sierra; the Sierra Nevada has a significant history. The California Gold Rush occurred in the western foothills from 1848 through 1855. Due to inaccessibility, the range was not explored until 1912; the Sierra Nevada lies in Central and Eastern California, with a small but important spur extending into Nevada. West-to-east, the Sierra Nevada's elevation increases from 1,000 feet in the Central Valley to heights of about 14,000 feet at its crest 50–75 miles to the east; the east slope forms the steep Sierra Escarpment. Unlike its surroundings, the range receives a substantial amount of snowfall and precipitation due to orographic lift; the Sierra Nevada's irregular northern boundary stretches from the Susan River and Fredonyer Pass to the North Fork Feather River.
It represents where the granitic bedrock of the Sierra Nevada dives below the southern extent of Cenozoic igneous surface rock from the Cascade Range. It is bounded on the west by California's Central Valley and on the east by the Basin and Range Province; the southern boundary is at Tehachapi Pass. Physiographically, the Sierra is a section of the Cascade-Sierra Mountains province, which in turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System physiographic division; the California Geological Survey states that "the northern Sierra boundary is marked where bedrock disappears under the Cenozoic volcanic cover of the Cascade Range." The range is drained on its western slope by the Central Valley watershed, which discharges into the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco. The northern third of the western Sierra is part of the Sacramento River watershed, the middle third is drained by the San Joaquin River; the southern third of the range is drained by the Kings, Kaweah and Kern rivers, which flow into the endorheic basin of Tulare Lake, which overflows into the San Joaquin during wet years.
The eastern slope watershed of the Sierra is much narrower. From north to south, the Susan River flows into intermittent Honey Lake, the Truckee River flows from Lake Tahoe into Pyramid Lake, the Carson River runs into Carson Sink, the Walker River into Walker Lake. Although none of the eastern rivers reach the sea, many of the streams from Mono Lake southwards are diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct which provides water to Southern California; the height of the mountains in the Sierra Nevada increases from north to south. Between Fredonyer Pass and Lake Tahoe, the peaks range from 5,000 feet to more than 9,000 feet; the crest near Lake Tahoe is 9,000 feet high, with several peaks approaching the height of Freel Peak. Farther south, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park is Mount Lyell; the Sierra rises to 14,000 feet with Mount Humphreys near Bishop, California. Near Lone Pine, Mount Whitney is at 14,505 feet, the highest point in the contiguous United States. South of Mount Whitney, the elevation of the range dwindles.
The crest elevation is 10,000 feet near Lake Isabella, but south of the lake, the peaks reach to only a modest 8,000 feet. There are several notable geographical features in the Sierra Nevada: Lake Tahoe is a large, clear freshwater lake in the northern Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 6,225 ft and an area of 191 sq mi. Lake Tahoe lies between a spur of the Sierra. Hetch Hetchy Valley, Yosemite Valley, Kings Canyon, Kern Canyon are examples of many glacially-scoured canyons on the west side of the Sierra. Yosemite National Park is filled with notable features such as waterfalls, granite domes, high mountains and meadows. Groves of Giant Sequoia
Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, a family that includes small or medium-size rodents. The squirrel family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, marmots, flying squirrels, prairie dogs amongst other rodents. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas and Africa, were introduced by humans to Australia; the earliest known squirrels date from the Eocene period and are most related to the mountain beaver and to the dormouse among other living rodent families. The word "squirrel", first attested in 1327, comes from the Anglo-Norman esquirel, from the Old French escurel, the reflex of a Latin word sciurus; this Latin word was borrowed from the Ancient Greek word σκίουρος, which means shadow-tailed, referring to the bushy appendage possessed by many of its members. The native Old English word for the squirrel, ācweorna, survived only into Middle English before being replaced; the Old English word is of Common Germanic origin, cognates of which are still used in other Germanic languages, including the German Eichhörnchen, the Norwegian ikorn/ekorn, the Dutch eekhoorn, the Swedish ekorre and the Danish egern.
Squirrels are small animals, ranging in size from the African pygmy squirrel at 7–10 cm in length and just 10 g in weight, to the Laotian giant flying squirrel at 1.08 m in length and the Alpine marmot, which weighs from 5 to 8 kg. Squirrels have slender bodies with bushy tails and large eyes. In general, their fur is silky, though much thicker in some species than others; the coat color of squirrels is variable between—and even within—species. In most squirrel species, the hind limbs are longer than the fore limbs, while all species have either four or five toes on each paw; the paws, which include an poorly developed thumb, have soft pads on the undersides and versatile, sturdy claws for grasping and climbing. Tree squirrels, unlike most mammals, can descend a tree head-first, they do so by rotating their ankles 180 degrees, enabling the hind paws to point backward and thus grip the tree bark from the opposite direction. Squirrels live in every habitat, from tropical rainforest to semiarid desert, avoiding only the high polar regions and the driest of deserts.
They are predominantly herbivorous, subsisting on seeds and nuts, but many will eat insects and small vertebrates. As their large eyes indicate, squirrels have an excellent sense of vision, important for the tree-dwelling species. Many have a good sense of touch, with vibrissae on their limbs as well as their heads; the teeth of sciurids follow the typical rodent pattern, with large incisors that grow throughout life, cheek teeth that are set back behind a wide gap, or diastema. The typical dental formula for sciurids is 220.127.116.11.0.1.3. Many juvenile squirrels die in the first year of life. Adult squirrels can have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years in the wild; some can survive 10 to 20 years in captivity. Premature death may be caused when a nest falls from the tree, in which case the mother may abandon her young if their body temperature is not correct. Many such baby squirrels have been rescued and fostered by a professional wildlife rehabilitator until they could be safely returned to the wild, although the density of squirrel populations in many places and the constant care required by premature squirrels means that few rehabilitators are willing to spend their time doing this and such animals are euthanized instead.
Squirrels mate either once or twice a year and, following a gestation period of three to six weeks, give birth to a number of offspring that varies by species. The young are altricial, being born naked and blind. In most species of squirrel, the female alone looks after the young, which are weaned at six to ten weeks and become sexually mature by the end of their first year. In general, the ground-dwelling squirrel species are social living in well-developed colonies, while the tree-dwelling species are more solitary. Ground squirrels and tree squirrels are either diurnal or crepuscular, while the flying squirrels tend to be nocturnal—except for lactating flying squirrels and their young, which have a period of diurnality during the summer; because squirrels cannot digest cellulose, they must rely on foods rich in protein and fats. In temperate regions, early spring is the hardest time of year for squirrels because the nuts they buried are beginning to sprout, while many of the usual food sources have not yet become available.
During these times, squirrels rely on the buds of trees. Squirrels, being herbivores, eat a wide variety of plants, as well as nuts, conifer cones, fruits and green vegetation; some squirrels, however consume meat when faced with hunger. Squirrels have been known to eat small birds, young snakes, smaller rodents, as well as bird eggs and insects. Indeed, some tropical squirrel species have shifted entirely to a diet of insects. Predatory behavior has been observed in various species of ground squirrels, in particular the thirteen-lined ground squirrel. For example, Bailey, a scientist in the 1920s, observed a thirteen-lined ground squirrel preying upon a young chicken. Wistrand reported seeing this same species eating a freshly killed snake. Whitaker examined the stomachs of 139 thirteen-lined ground squirrels and found bird flesh in four of the specimens and the remains of a short-tailed shrew in one.
A valley is a low area between hills or mountains with a river running through it. In geology, a valley or dale is a depression, longer than it is wide; the terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys. Most valleys belong to one of these two main types or a mixture of them, at least with respect to the cross section of the slopes or hillsides. A valley in its broadest geographic sense is known as a dale. Other terms used for valleys are: Vale: A valley. Dell: A small and wooded valley. Glen: A long valley bounded by sloped concave sides. Strath: A wide, flat valley through which a river runs. Mountain cove: A small valley, closed at one or both ends, in the central or southern Appalachian Mountains which sometimes results from the erosion of a geologic window. Hollow: A term used sometimes for a small valley surrounded by mountains or ridges. Cwm: A deep, narrow valley. A steephead valley is a deep, flat bottomed valley with an abrupt ending. Erosional valley: A valley formed by erosion.
Structural valley: A valley formed by geologic events such as drop faults or the rise of highlands. Dry valley: A valley not created by sustained surface water flow. Longitudinal valley: An elongated valley found between two parallel mountain chains. Similar geological structures, such as canyons, gorges, gullies and kloofs, are not referred to as valleys. A valley formed by flowing water, called fluvial valley or river valley, is V-shaped; the exact shape will depend on the characteristics of the stream flowing through it. Rivers with steep gradients, as in mountain ranges, produce a bottom. Shallower slopes may produce gentler valleys. However, in the lowest stretch of a river, where it approaches its base level, it begins to deposit sediment and the valley bottom becomes a floodplain; some broad V examples are: North America: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, others in Grand Canyon NP Europe: Austria: narrow passages of upper Inn valley, affluents of Enns Switzerland: Napf region, Zurich Oberland, Engadin Germany: affluents to the middle reaches of Rhine and MoselSome of the first human complex societies originated in river valleys, such as that of the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Ganges, Yellow River and arguably Amazon.
In prehistory, the rivers were used as a source of fresh water and food, as well as a place to wash and a sewer. The proximity of water moderated temperature extremes and provided a source for irrigation, stimulating the development of agriculture. Most of the first civilizations developed from these river valley communities. In geography, a vale is a wide river valley with a wide flood plain or flat valley bottom. In Southern England, vales occur between the escarpment slopes of pairs of chalk formations, where the chalk dome has been eroded, exposing less resistant underlying rock claystone. Rift valleys, such as the Albertine Rift and Gregory Rift are formed by the expansion of the Earth's crust due to tectonic activity beneath the Earth's surface. There are various forms of valley associated with glaciation that may be referred to as glacial valleys. A valley carved by glaciers is U-shaped and resembles a trough; this trough valley becomes visible upon the recession of the glacier. When the ice recedes or thaws, the valley remains littered with small boulders that were transported within the ice.
Floor gradient does not affect the valley's shape, it is the glacier's size. Continuously flowing glaciers – in the ice age – and large-sized glaciers carve wide, deep incised valleys, sometimes with valley steps that reflect differing erosion rates. Examples of U-shaped valleys are found in every mountainous region that has experienced glaciation during the Pleistocene ice ages. Most present U-shaped valleys started as V-shaped before glaciation; the glaciers carved it out wider and deeper changing the shape. This proceeds through the glacial erosion processes of glaciation and abrasion, which results in large rocky material being carried in the glacier. A material called; as the ice melts and retreats, the valley is left with steep sides and a wide, flat floor. A river or stream may remain in the valley; this replaces the original stream or river and is known as a misfit stream because it is smaller than one would expect given the size of its valley. Other interesting glacially carved valleys include: Yosemite Valley Side valleys of the Austrian river Salzach for their parallel directions and hanging mouths.
Some Scottish glens full with flowers. That of the St. Mary River in Glacier National Park in Montana, USA. A tunnel valley is a large, long, U-shaped valley cut under the glacial ice near the margin of continental ice sheets such as that now covering Antarctica and covering portions of all continents during past glacial ages. A tunnel valley can be up to 100 km, 4 km wide, 400 m deep. Tunnel valleys were formed by subglacial erosion by water, they served as subglacial drainage pathways carrying large volumes of melt water. Their cross-sections exhibit steep-sided flanks similar to fjord walls, their flat bottoms are typical of subglacial glacial erosion. In northern Central Europe, the Scandinavian ice sheet during the various ice ages advanced uphill against the lie of the land; as a result, its meltwaters flowed parallel to the ice margin to reach the North Sea basin, formin
Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation and parasitoidism, it is distinct from scavenging on dead prey, though many predators scavenge. Predators may search for prey or sit and wait for it; when prey is detected, the predator assesses. This may involve pursuit predation, sometimes after stalking the prey. If the attack is successful, the predator kills the prey, removes any inedible parts like the shell or spines, eats it. Predators are adapted and highly specialized for hunting, with acute senses such as vision, hearing, or smell. Many predatory animals, both vertebrate and invertebrate, have sharp claws or jaws to grip and cut up their prey. Other adaptations include aggressive mimicry that improve hunting efficiency. Predation has a powerful selective effect on prey, the prey develop antipredator adaptations such as warning coloration, alarm calls and other signals, mimicry of well-defended species, defensive spines and chemicals.
Sometimes predator and prey find themselves in an evolutionary arms race, a cycle of adaptations and counter-adaptations. Predation has been a major driver of evolution since at least the Cambrian period. At the most basic level, predators eat other organisms. However, the concept of predation is broad, defined differently in different contexts, includes a wide variety of feeding methods. A parasitoid, such as an ichneumon wasp, lays its eggs on its host. Zoologists call this a form of parasitism, though conventionally parasites are thought not to kill their hosts. A predator can be defined to differ from a parasitoid in two ways: it kills its prey immediately. There are other borderline cases. Micropredators are small animals that, like predators, feed on other organisms. However, since they do not kill their hosts, they are now thought of as parasites. Animals that graze on phytoplankton or mats of microbes are predators, as they consume and kill their food organisms. However, when animals eat seeds or eggs, they are consuming entire living organisms, which by definition makes them predators, albeit unconventional ones: for instance, a mouse that eats grass seeds has no adaptations for tracking and subduing prey and its teeth are not adapted to slicing through flesh.
Scavengers, organisms that only eat organisms found dead, are not predators, but many predators such as the jackal and the hyena scavenge when the opportunity arises. Among invertebrates, social wasps are both scavengers of other insects. While examples of predators among mammals and birds are well known, predators can be found in a broad range of taxa, they are common among insects, including mantids, dragonflies and scorpionflies. In some species such as the alderfly, only the larvae are predatory. Spiders are predatory, as well as other terrestrial invertebrates such as scorpions. In marine environments, most cnidarians, ctenophora and flatworms are predatory. Among crustaceans, crabs and barnacles are predators, in turn crustaceans are preyed on by nearly all cephalopods. Seed predation is restricted to mammals and insects and is found in all terrestrial ecosystems. Egg predation includes both specialist egg predators such as some colubrid snakes and generalists such as foxes and badgers that opportunistically take eggs when they find them.
Some plants, like the pitcher plant, the Venus fly trap and the sundew, are carnivorous and consume insects. Some carnivorous fungi catch nematodes using either active traps in the form of constricting rings, or passive traps with adhesive structures. Many species of protozoa and bacteria prey on other microorganisms. Among freshwater and marine zooplankton, whether single-celled or multi-cellular, predatory grazing on phytoplankton and smaller zooplankton is common, found in many species of nanoflagellates, ciliates, rotifers, a diverse range of meroplankton animal larvae, two groups of crustaceans, namely copepods and cladocerans. To feed, a predator must search for and kill its prey; these actions form a foraging cycle. The predator must decide. If it chooses pursuit, its physical capabilities determine the mode of pursuit. Having captured the prey, it may need to expend energy handling it (e.g. killing it, removing any shell or
The coyote, Canis latrans, is a canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf, smaller than the related eastern wolf and red wolf, it fills much of the same ecological niche as the golden jackal does in Eurasia, though it is larger and more predatory, is sometimes called the American jackal by zoologists. The coyote is listed as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to its wide distribution and abundance throughout North America, southwards through Mexico, into Central America; the species is able to adapt to and expand into environments modified by humans. It is enlarging its range, with coyotes moving into urban areas in the Eastern U. S. and was sighted in eastern Panama for the first time in 2013. As of 2005, 19 coyote subspecies are recognized; the average male weighs the average female 7 to 18 kg. Their fur color is predominantly light gray and red or fulvous interspersed with black and white, though it varies somewhat with geography.
It is flexible in social organization, living either in a family unit or in loosely knit packs of unrelated individuals. It has a varied diet consisting of animal meat, including deer, hares, birds, amphibians and invertebrates, though it may eat fruits and vegetables on occasion, its characteristic vocalization is a howl made by solitary individuals. Humans are the coyote's greatest threat, followed by gray wolves. In spite of this, coyotes sometimes mate with gray, eastern, or red wolves, producing "coywolf" hybrids. In the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, the eastern coyote is the result of various historical and recent matings with various types of wolves. Genetic studies show that most North American wolves contain some level of coyote DNA; the coyote is a prominent character in Native American folklore in the Southwestern United States and Mexico depicted as a trickster that alternately assumes the form of an actual coyote or a man. As with other trickster figures, the coyote uses deception and humor to rebel against social conventions.
The animal was respected in Mesoamerican cosmology as a symbol of military might. After the European colonization of the Americas, it was reviled in Anglo-American culture as a cowardly and untrustworthy animal. Unlike wolves, which have undergone an improvement of their public image, attitudes towards the coyote remain negative. Coyote males average 8 to 20 kg in weight, while females average 7 to 18 kg, though size varies geographically. Northern subspecies, which average 18 kg, tend to grow larger than the southern subspecies of Mexico, which average 11.5 kg. Body length ranges on average from 1.0 to 1.35 m, tail length 40 cm, with females being shorter in both body length and height. The largest coyote on record was a male killed near Afton, Wyoming, on November 19, 1937, which measured 1.5 m from nose to tail, weighed 34 kg. Scent glands are a bluish-black color; the color and texture of the coyote's fur varies somewhat geographically. The hair's predominant color is light gray and red or fulvous, interspersed around the body with black and white.
Coyotes living at high elevations tend to have more black and gray shades than their desert-dwelling counterparts, which are more fulvous or whitish-gray. The coyote's fur consists of soft underfur and long, coarse guard hairs; the fur of northern subspecies is longer and denser than in southern forms, with the fur of some Mexican and Central American forms being hispid. Adult coyotes have a sable coat color, dark neonatal coat color, bushy tail with an active supracaudal gland, a white facial mask. Albinism is rare in coyotes; the coyote is smaller than the gray wolf, but has longer ears and a larger braincase, as well as a thinner frame and muzzle. The scent glands are the same color, its fur color variation is much less varied than that of a wolf. The coyote carries its tail downwards when running or walking, rather than horizontally as the wolf does. Coyote tracks can be distinguished from those of dogs by less rounded shape. Unlike dogs, the upper canines of coyotes extend past the mental foramina.
At the time of the European colonization of the Americas, coyotes were confined to open plains and arid regions of the western half of the continent. In early post-Columbian historical records, distinguishing between coyotes and wolves is difficult. One record from 1750 in Kaskaskia, written by a local priest, noted that the "wolves" encountered there were smaller and less daring than European wolves. Another account from the early 1800s in Edwards County mentioned wolves howling at night, though these were coyotes; this species was encountered several times during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, though it was well known to European traders on the upper Missouri. Lewis, writing on 5 May 1805, in northeastern Montana, described the coyote in these terms: The small woolf or burrowing dog of the prairies are the inhabitants invariably of the open plains.
Tuolumne Meadows is a gentle, dome-studded, sub-alpine meadow area along the Tuolumne River in the eastern section of Yosemite National Park in the United States. Its approximate location is 37°52.5′N 119°21′W. Its approximate elevation is 8,619 feet; the term Tuolumne Meadows is often used to describe a large portion of the Yosemite high country around the meadows in context of rock climbing. The meadow vegetation is supported by shallow groundwater; the water comes from 1,000 mm of precipitation predominately in the form of snow. Water arises from snowmelt and hill-slope aquifers, flows through the Tuolumne River, Budd Creek, Delaney Creek, Unicorn Creek. In spring, as soon as the snow melts, it is not uncommon to see large areas of the meadows flooded and transformed into lakes. While the mountains of the Sierra near the meadows have had some permanent snowfields, in the summer they are free of snow. Although brief, the late spring and summer wildflower bloom in Tuolumne Meadows is host to a wide variety of California wildflowers, including the rare Purple Webber, a type of lupin.
Plant species composition changes across the meadows with different landforms, landscape positions, summer water-table depths. Areas with seasonal flooding and deep-standing water support Sierra willow; the main herbaceous wet-meadow species include alpine aster, nearly-black sedge, King's ricegrass, western bistort, Breweri's reed grass, dwarf bilberry. Thread-leaved sedge, pussy-toes, Sierra lodgepole pine, Ross sedge are found in drier uplands within or on the edge of the meadows. See Hiking, rock climbing, mountain climbing around Tuolumne Meadows. Tuolumne Meadows has a good view of the Cathedral Range and Unicorn Peak, Lembert Dome, Mount Dana. Camping is available at the Tuolumne Meadows campground. Excellent hiking and rock climbing are accessible from Tuolumne Meadows, which tends to be less crowded than Yosemite Valley. Downstream, the Tuolumne River cascades over Waterwheel Falls near Glen Aulin pooling at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir; the road to the meadows is free of snow from June through October.
Due to the extreme elevation, road access over Tioga Pass along Highway 120 is closed through winter season. Many backcountry hiking and backpacking trails start in Tuolumne Meadows including the primary route to summit Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park; the John Muir and the Pacific Crest Trails are long-distance backpacking trails and follow a route through Lyell Canyon into Tuolumne Meadows. A large number of backpackers hike these trails each year. Along with these longer trails, Tuolumne Meadows feature a wide range of day trails to locations including Gaylor Lakes, Cathedral Lakes, Mono Pass, Lembert Dome; the day hike trails are popular, become busy during the summer high seasons. These trails are serviced by the Tuolumne Meadows shuttle bus from June to September, though the dates are subject to change due to weather. In contrast to the big walls of Yosemite Valley, climbing at Tuolumne consists of short- to medium-length routes on eleven major domes and a number of minor ones, stretching from the Stately Pleasure Dome above Tenaya Lake to Lembert Dome on the east side of the Meadows.
Since the area is all at a high elevation, the climbing season is limited to June through September. The rock is porphyritic granite, a strong form of granite, it has a tendency for exfoliation, which helps preserve the distinctive dome shapes. The resulting climbing includes both face and crack routes, the former runout due to limited numbers of bolts, the latter following thin cracks; the local ethic is to limit the placement of bolts on new routes and to forbid the addition of bolts to existing routes, resulting in distances of 40 feet or more between bolts. The major domes include: Stately Pleasure Dome Polly Dome Daff Dome Pothole Dome Lembert Dome Fairview DomeSee Granite Domes of Yosemite National Park for a list of granite domes in Yosemite National park, not just around Tuolumne. In addition, the peaks of the nearby Cathedral Range, such as Cathedral Peak, Pywiack Dome, Medlicott Dome, are traditionally considered part of the climbing area. Yosemite National Park travel guide from Wikivoyage National Park Service Maps Tuolumne Meadows Day Hikes Tuolumne Meadows Campground Site Photos