Photo Op: Yosemite Rocks — And Sometimes It Rolls

A granite boulder in Yosemite's high country. Photo by BF Newhall.

Is the grapefruit-sized rock all that’s keeping the boulder from rolling down the hillside? Photos by BF Newhall.


By Barbara Falconer Newhall

El Capitan, that massive cliff overlooking the Yosemite Valley, is the biggest single chunk of granite in Yosemite National Park  — and in the world, for that matter. But to me, just as spectacular as all that bigness is the abundance of the smaller stuff at Yosemite — the boulders, the rocks, the stones and the pebbles that litter the park’s 12,000 square miles.

Rocks on the trail at Tuolemne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

Underfoot — more rocks.

It took 100 million years for the rocks of Yosemite National Park to form — deep underground — and many more eons for that rock to be thrust upward, then shaped and polished by the action of rivers and glaciers.

If you’d like more of the geologic history behind all this earthy beauty, go to the Yosemite website, where you’ll find some gorgeous words to go with all those exquisite rocks. Like granodiorite, tonalit, biotite, gabbro, latite tuff and hornblende . Go for it!

But first, sit a while and listen to these rocks. They are weighty. They have been here a while. They’re trying to tell you something.

Glacial erratics piled on a sloping rock at Inyo National Forest, CA. Photo by BF Newhal

My hiking friend Jean tells me these distinctive solo rocks are sometimes carried from a great distance by glaciers, in which case they’re called glacial erratics. These two rocks were in Inyo National Forest, just over the pass from Yosemite.

A lone rock at Yosemite. Photo by BF Newhall

An invitation to sit.



If you liked this post, you might enjoy “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder — But What If There’s No Beholder?”


I’m just a so-so photographer with my little Canon point and shoot. A guy named G. Dan Mitchell has some real beauties on his website. Also, Kathy A has a cool collection of glacier erratic photos on her Pinterest page.

























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