The 2010 Yosemite National Park Quarter represented the third release of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. This program honors national parks and national sites within each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. Yosemite was chosen to represented the state of California. The area was designated 1890 and became a focal point for the development of the National Park System.
The reverse design of the Yosemite National Park Quarter features a view of El Capitan. The granite cliff rises more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor, making it the largest monolith of granite in the world. The reverse was designed by Joseph Menna and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The obverse of the coin features a familiar portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan, with details restored from the original 1932 Washington Quarter.
Yosemite National Park was previously featured on the 2005 California Quarter released during the State Quarter Program. The designed featured John Muir overlooking the Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.
The Yosemite Quarter was released into circulation on July 26, 2010. The United States Mint offers numismatic bags and rolls of the new quarter, as well as collectible versions of the coin incorporated into annual and other sets.
Yosemite National Park
Native Americans known as the Ahwahneechee were the first to call the area that we now know as the Yosemite Valley their home. It was not until the California gold rush of the 1850’s that non-native peoples had the pleasure of learning about this area’s stunning beauty and diversity. Word of the breathtaking scenery and wide open spaces brought those that would seek to preserve the wildness and splendor of the area. As early as 1855, a homesteader named Galen Clark had already discovered and dedicated his life to protecting the magnificent Giant Sequoia trees that exist in the Park, many of which are still standing today thanks to his activism.
As more and more people moved to the area, many conservationists and naturalists became concerned about the negative impact that development and human population was having on the delicate ecosystems of the valley. In 1890, two famous and influential protectors of natural spaces, John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson launched a campaign that would eventually convince Congress that the area needed protection from the government.
On the first day of October in 1890, the two celebrated as Congress agreed to set aside over 1,500 square miles of forest land that would soon be referred to as the Yosemite National Park that we know and love today. It would not take the name until 1916, however, when the newly formed National Park Service took over protection of the park from the United States Cavalry.
Yosemite National Park Quarter Launch Ceremony
The United States Mint formally introduced the Yosemite National Park Quarter during a ceremony held at the park on July 29, 2010. The US Mint Director Edmund Moy and National Park Service officials hosted the event for the third release within the series of America the Beautiful Quarters.
“With this quarter, the United States Mint connects America to the wonder, peace and beauty of one of its most awe-inspiring natural treasures – Yosemite National Park,” Moy told the crowd.
After the formal ceremony, attendees were able to exchange their currency for rolls of the new Yosemite Quarters. Although limits were imposed, multiple passes through the exchange line were permitted, allowing most people to obtain all they wanted.