Hetch Hetchy Valley: A Temple of Mountains

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Kolana Rock viewed from the hiking trail between Rancheria Falls and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. (photo by: Joshua Schock)

Yosemite Valley in California has long been considered one of America’s greatest landscapes, rich in beauty. However, a couple of hours to the north lies a lesser known wonder: Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Today the valley lies under 400,000 square meters of water due to the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in 1923. Its splendor was once comparable to its more popular cousin to the south, Yosemite Valley.

John Muir, the famous naturalist of the early 19th century, called Hetch Hetchy, “One of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” Despite being flooded, the valley and the surrounding backcountry are still incredibly picturesque, providing stunning vistas of soaring domes, mountain lakes, and clear cool torrents.