The California Quarter was issued January 31, 2005 by the United States Mint. The California Quarter, part of the United States Mint's 50 State Quarters® Program, was the 31st state quarter released by the Mint because California, admitted into the Union on September 9, 1850, is our nation’s 31st state. The California Quarter depicts naturalist and conservationist John Muir admiring Yosemite Valley’s monolithic Half Dome while a California condor soars overhead. The coin bears the inscriptions "California," "John Muir," "Yosemite Valley" and "1850." John Muir helped form the Sierra Club in 1892 to protect Yosemite National Park that Congress had established in 1890. Muir served as the Sierra Club's president until his death in 1914. The California condor, with a wingspan of nine feet, was once nearly extinct. Its prominence on the quarter is a testament to the enormous bird's successful repopulation in California.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chose the California Quarter design concept from five final concepts presented to him by the 20-member California State Quarter Commission. The U.S. Department of Treasury approved the "John Muir/Yosemite Valley" design on April 15, 2004.