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Ooh, aah: Take in Yosemite views - by computer

  • A heavy mist inundates the viewing area at Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Warm spring conditions have caused the falls in Yosemite Valley to flow at near peak levels. (AP Photo/The Fresno Bee Mark Crosse)

FRESNO - Just in time for spring snowmelt: a webcam pointed at one of Yosemite National Park's main attractions, the soaring 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls.

The HD camera went live on North America's tallest fall Monday, allowing anyone with computer access to watch in stunning detail as shadows race across the towering granite monolith over which Yosemite Creek crashes in a series of plunges and cascades. It's updated every 30 seconds through a high-speed DSL connection.

To those for whom the park's breathtaking scenery revives the soul, getting a fix of spiritual uplift just got a little easier. For people who've never been to Yosemite, perhaps seeing one of the park's main attractions in real time will prove too enticing to resist.

"In a lot of ways I equate it to all of the beautiful picture books that we've had on our coffee tables, or the art from the 1870s that made Yosemite exciting to people around the world when they saw it for the first time," said Michael Tollefson, president of the nonprofit Yosemite Conservancy, which placed the camera there. "This is a great way to communicate in today's media what the park is and to get people excited immediately, for better or worse."

It's the fourth webcam the nonprofit has set up — the other three are pointed toward the park icons Half Dome, Yosemite's most recognizable granite feature, and El Capitan, the 3,000-foot sheer-faced monolith popular with climbers. It joins a smattering of others across the nation, including one at Yellowstone's renowned geyser Old Faithful, as technology, in varying degrees of clarity, increasingly connects America's natural wonders with fans around the world.

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