Yosemite inspires passion from most of its more than 4 million visitors annually. It was the fourth-most-visited national park in 2015 (after Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain).
When ardor cools, the breakup can be ugly.
Concessionaire Delaware North lost the bid to continue managing signature properties in Yosemite, but it trademarked the names before it exited. The company now argues that taxpayers (in the form of the National Park Service) must pay $51 million to buy the intellectual property attached to the names.
The Justice Department responded that the value proposed by Delaware North was "improper and wildly inflated."
Today, The Ahwahnee is called The Majestic Yosemite Hotel as the dispute makes its way through the courts.
An editorial published in The Fresno Bee called the move a "sordid play."
A bipartisan group of California Assembly members has introduced legislation to protect California state parks from a similar shakedown and to ban the state from contracting concessions with trademark squatters.
A story by Michael Doyle of McClatchy's Washington bureau compared the dispute to an ugly divorce.
The story quotes Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova: "People all around California have heard of this and are outraged by it. The people I talk to evince almost a sensation of experiencing physical pain to think of such familiar spots as Camp Curry being tossed aside because of this dispute."
According to the Delaware North website, the company operates California concessions at locations including Los Angeles International Airport, Sequoia National Park, Petco Park and Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Café at the Opera at the San Francisco War Memorial.
This isn't the first time someone has tried to bill the government for the beauty of Yosemite. James Mason Hutchings helped popularize the valley as a tourist destination in the mid-1800s.
The Englishman first cast his gaze on the valley in 1855, and from 1856 to 1861, he published Hutchings' California Magazine.
The National Park Service website said he "became the authoritative voice regarding Yosemite."
He operated Hutchings House, the primitive first lodge in the valley.
In 1869, Hutchings hired a shabby sheepherder to build and operate his sawmill. The sheepherder would not be mentioned by name in Hutchings' 1888 book, "In the Heart of the Sierras." It would be up to the sheepherder, John Muir, to write his own books.
What would become the National Park Service was born in 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act of Congress transferring Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to the state of California as a park, reserved from settlement.
Hutchings embarked on a bitter legal and public relations battle to retain ownership of the Hutchings House.
Perhaps Hutchings deserves some gratitude.
In the book "Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness," Alfred Runte writes that "Hutchings v. Low, in effect, established that national parks were indeed constitutional."
However, Runte also writes that Hutchings received $24,000, and another man, James Lamon, received $12,000 from the California Legislature in 1874 to get them to drop further litigation.
Muir would camp with President Theodore Roosevelt in the park in 1903 and convince him that it was essential to expand Yosemite and return it to federal control as a national park.
The process has been fraught with controversy since the beginning. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns traced the path with "National Parks: America's Best Idea."