Sierra Nevada Batholith, Tenaya Lake, California

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

One of the most spectacular views in the United States is on the Tioga Road (California Route 120) across Yosemite National Park. Here we look east and see Tenaya Lake in the distance. All the rock in the picture, from the boulders in the foreground to the most distant peaks, is a variety of granite called granodiorite. The Sierra Nevada are mostly made up of this rock, a huge mass called a batholith. The granodiorite is the hardened rock of magma chambers that fed volcanoes about 100 million years ago. Actually the batholith isn't a single intrusion, but hundreds of small intrusions that overlap each other. The mountains are so smooth because they were entirely covered by glaciers during the ice ages.

By the way, there is no such thing as the Sierra Nevada Mountains. "Sierra" is Spanish for "mountain range," so there's no need to add the "mountains."

The view is from Olmsted Point (37o 48' 40" N  119o 29' 04"W). Tenaya Lake is located at 37o 49' 50" N  119o 27' 30"W.

Original Scene

Possible Coloring

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Created 25 November 2005, Last Update 15 January 2020