Tuolumne in Pictures: Bird's eye view

"The long curves of the Tuolumne River have saturated these soils for thousands of years, creating the open and rich habitat for sedges, grasses, rushes, and flowers." (All photos © Ryan Alonzo)

Tuolumne in Pictures coverPhotographer Ryan Alonzo has spent more than 10 years documenting the beauty of the Yosemite Valley, and in his latest book, readers are given a glimpse into one of its most breathtaking and idyllic areas, Tuolumne Meadows.

This slice of alpine paradise is widely touted as the place that motivated conservationist John Muir to push for the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890. With its lush greenery, dramatic granite outcroppings and wealth of pristine waters, it's easy to see why.

"At 8,600 feet of elevation, Tuolumne Meadows spends much of the year under a coat of snow," Eric Smith writes in the book's introduction. "But for a brief time between June and September, this terrain becomes a lively flowered clearing between the waves of granite peaks. Plants, animals and people [wait] all year to enjoy summer in the meadow."

Published by the Yosemite Conservancy, "Tuolumne in Pictures" is not just a photo book filled with jawdropping landscape, it's also a visual celebration of the 125th anniversary of Yosemite's designation as a national park.

Continue below for a small taste of the gorgeous images featured in the book, paired with captions written by Smith.

Tuolumne in Pictures: Meadow

"An American Indian summer encampment for thousands of years, this meadow inspired the creation of Yosemite National Park. Tioga Road allows access to this rarefied mountain ecosystem and into the miles of wilderness beyond."

Tuolumne in Pictures: River

"Last light stretches across the Tuolumne River and the bright pussy-toes (Antennaria rosea) that bloom by its side."

Tuolumne in Pictures: Sunset

"Contemplating geology challenges ideas of permanence and the significance of a human sense of time. Long before massive ice sheets gathered and receded here during several glacial periods, these granite features were magma deep inside volcanoes."

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.