Tuolumne Meadows is a gentle, dome-studded sub-alpine meadowy section of the Tuolumne River, in the eastern section of Yosemite National Park. Its approximate location is . Its approximate elevation is 2627 m (8619 feet).
The meadow vegetation is supported by shallow groundwater. The water comes from 1,000 mm (39 inches) of precipitation annually, predominately in the form of snow. Water arises from snowmelt and hill-slope aquifers, and flows through the Tuolumne River, Budd Creek, Delaney Creek, and Unicorn Creek. In spring as soon as the snow melts, it is not uncommon to see large areas of the meadows flooded and practically transformed into a lake.
The mountains of the Sierra near the meadows have some permanent snowfields: in the summer they are mostly 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 relatively rare Purple Webber, a type of lupin.
Plant species composition changes across the meadows with different landforms, landscape positions, and summer water-table depths. Areas with seasonal flooding and deep-standing water support the inflated sedge and Sierra willow. The main herbaceous wet-meadow species include alpine aster, nearly-black sedge, King’s ricegrass, western bistort, Breweri’s reed grass, and dwarf bilberry. Thread-leaved sedge, pussy-toes, Sierra lodgepole pine, and Ross sedge are found in drier uplands within or on the edge of the meadow.
Tuolumne Meadows has a good view of the Cathedral Range (in the background of the image, looking south), Lembert Dome and Mount Dana (to the north). Camping is available at the Tuolumne Meadows campground (reservations recommended). Excellent hiking and rock climbing are accessible from Tuolumne Meadows, which tends to be less crowded than Yosemite Valley. The John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail run through Tuolumne Meadows. Downstream (flowing to the right (western) side of the image), the Tuolumne River cascades over Waterwheel Falls, near Glen Aulin, eventually pooling at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
The roads to the meadows are generally free of snow from June through October. Due to the extreme elevation, road access is closed through winter season in the Meadows.
In contrast to the big walls of Yosemite Valley, climbing at Tuolumne generally 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 mainly limited to June through September.
The rock is porphyritic granite, a very strong form of granite. It has a tendency for exfoliation which helps produce and preserve the distinctive dome shapes. The resulting climbing includes both face and crack routes, the former often runout due to limited numbers of bolts, and the latter frequently following very 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 (12 m) or more between bolts.
The major domes include:
- This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "Tuolumne Meadows".
- "Tuolumne Meadows Campground". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
- "Campground Reservations". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
- "Day Hikes in Tuolumne Meadows". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
- Reid, Don; Chris Falkenstein. Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows. Chockstone Press. p. 160. ISBN 0-934641-01-3.
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