Galen Clark was the first designated Guardian of Yosemite. After visiting in 1855 as part of a tourist party (which he joined for health reasons after a diagnosis of tuberculosis), he became inspired by the Giant Sequoia trees in what’s now well-known as Mariposa Grove, and spent his next 50 years studying and protecting the giant trees and their home of Yosemite. He is thought to be the first person to actually count and measure the Giant Sequoias.

visit the Giant Sequoias in YosemiteWithin two years of his first experience of this area, Galen had built himself a log cabin which became known as “Clark’s Station”. Here he provided visitors (including John Muir, when he first traveled to Yosemite) with food, shelter, and education about the area. He and John became friends; Muir later stating that Clark was “the best mountaineer” he’d ever met.

On June 30th, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant (which celebrated its 150th anniversary this year!), designating Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove as a grant “inalienable for all time” to the state of California “for public use, resort and recreation” – not for settlement. A guardian was chosen to oversee the board of commissioners, and that guardian was Galen Clark. He maintained this position for the next 24 years.

It is said Galen used to hike through the park barefoot, and was quoted as saying that shoes are “cruel and silly instruments of torture, at once uncivilized, unhuman and unnecessary.”

To see the beautiful Giant Sequoias and Yosemite Valley that inspired Galen Clark, join us on our Yosemite Experience 2-Day Hotel Tours or our Yosemite Escape 3- Day Camping Tour. Shoes are optional, but strongly advised – sorry Galen!