Yosemite National Park initially included only the high country. The valley and its soaring granite cliffs were added to the park in 1906. Nowhere else in Yosemite will you find a greater diversity of plants and animals than one of the valley’s meadows. Meadows and wetlands are vital for deer and bears, for numerous birds, and for an unbelievable number of smaller creatures, all of which depend upon an amazing variety of plants.
The openess of meadows provides great views of the surrounding area. When visiting meadows, tread carefully and use existing boardwalks and trails where they exist. If you see wildlife, keep wildlife wild; respect animals from a distance. Stoneman Meadow is one of the valley’s meadows, located across the street from Half Dome Village, formerly Curry Village.
Problems between Yosemite rangers and the growing crowds in Stoneman Meadows began over Memorial Day weekend 1970 when rangers fielded numerous complaints regarding loud music, drug use, fights, profanity, nudity, and public sex. On July 4, 1970, there was a riot on this meadow, when rangers attempted to tighten up enforcement. Rioters attacked the rangers with rocks, and pulled mounted rangers from their horses. The National Guard was brought in to restore order.
Over the next several months, hundreds of visitors were turned away at the park’s entrances after “vehicle inspections” deemed their cars motorcycles unsafe. In truth, such inspections were Yosemite administration’s way of keeping counter culture youth from reentering the park, and led to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
A 250-meter abandoned asphalt path that bisected a portion of the meadow and obstructed the natural flow of water was removed in 2006. The asphalt removal allowed natural hydrologic processes to resume, promoted biological health and restored Stoneman Meadow’s aesthetic value. A boardwalk is now traversing the meadow.