Buffalo Soldiers

soldiers on horseback in woods
Buffalo Soldiers in Yosemite



Before the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916, the U.S. Army was responsible for protecting our first national parks. Soldiers from the Presidio of San Francisco spent the summer months in Yosemite and Sequoia. Their tasks included blazing trails, constructing roads, creating maps, evicting grazing livestock, extinguishing fires, monitoring tourists, and keeping poachers and loggers at bay.

Among the units that patrolled the parks were Buffalo Soldiers of the 24th Infantry and 9th Cavalry. These African American troopers were in the Sierra parks in 1899, 1903, and 1904. They played a crucial role in events and achievements that shaped the parks as well as the entire national park system.

The stories of the Buffalo Soldiers span three different national parks. Learn more about their activities at each park.


Presidio of San Francisco

  • Learn about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and their garrison duty at the Presidio.

Yosemite National Park

  • Learn more about the Buffalo Soldiers' summer duty in the Sierra.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

  • Learn about the accomplishments of Col. Charles Young, Sequoia's acting superintendent in the summer of 1903.

Shadows in the Range of Light

  • Visit Yosemite Park Ranger Shelton Johnson's website.
Buffalo soldiers on horseback in Yosemite
9th Cavalry soldiers on the Fallen Monarch in Yosemite's Mariposa Grove; photo circa 1904.

Yosemite Research Library

Last updated: August 19, 2020

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