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30 of the most beautiful places in the world

By: Melissa Breyer on July 8, 2014, 9:01 a.m.
Inspiration point yosemite

Photo: John Lemieux/Flickr

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"I have seen persons of emotional temperament stand with tearful eyes, spellbound and dumb with awe, as they got their first view of the Valley from Inspiration Point [pictured here], overwhelmed in the sudden presence of the unspeakable, stupendous grandeur," said Galen Clark, the first European American to "discover" Yosemite in eastern California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. And we can thank Clark for pushing legislation that led to the Yosemite Land Grant signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. It was the first time the federal government set aside land for preservation — it is generally recognized as the birth of the national parks idea. But beyond the historic significance, Yosemite is indeed a place of unspeakable, stupendous grandeur. Maybe best known for its waterfalls, the park also plays home to hypnotic valleys, ancient giant trees, incredible rock formations, meadows worthy of odes and sonnets, and 750 miles worth of trails from which to explore it all.