I’ve seen some big trees in my time – Cathedral Grove on the way to Tofino on Vancouver Island, Muir Woods near San Francisco and true virgin forest in northwestern Ontario where few people have ever trod. But my few hours wandering through Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park last week left me feeling like I’d entered a magic kingdom – and it wasn’t the Disney version. I’ve never seen a place quite like it.
Giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove
The giant sequoias are obviously the star of the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite. About 500 of them live in Mariposa Grove – and their presence is a testament to their ability to survive. On average, mature sequoias have endured 100 wildfires in their lifetime. They are very resistant to disease and insects too.
There are two other areas in the park that also have giant sequoias – Tuolumne and Merced groves located off California Highway 120 near Wawona though they have nowhere near the numbers of trees that Mariposa Grove has.
I learned some facts about giant sequoia trees that you might find interesting too.
- Giant sequoia trees are the fastest growing trees in the world.
- Giant sequoias ONLY grow naturally in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California.
- Giant sequoias grow at elevations of around 6,500 feet
- Some giant sequoias have survived upwards of 2000 years.
- Bark can be as much as four feet thick.
- Coast redwood trees are taller but giant sequoias are bulkier and are the widest of all trees.
- Giant sequoias need the dry heat of the mountains for the cones to open – and release their seeds. They reproduce by seed only.
- It takes 20 years for a giant sequoia to mature and produce cones.
- The largest tree in the world is a giant sequoia that goes by the name of General Sherman. At 275 feet tall, it weighs 2.7 million pounds.
There are some very famous trees in Mariposa Grove
- The California Tunnel Tree was cut in 1895 to allow stagecoaches to drive through it. It is still alive.
- The Grizzly Giant is one of the biggest trees in the park with limbs that boast a seven foot circumference. It is considered to be the 25th largest tree in the world standing 210 feet tall with a circumference at the base of 92 feet.
- The Columbia Tree, a 285 foot tree located near the museum, is the tallest in the park.
- It’s possible to walk inside the still living Telescope Tree and look up to the sky through the tree’s trunk.
- The Wawona Tunnel Tree is no longer standing but until 1968 it was considered to be the most photographed tree in the world. Unfortunately it fell over with a heavy snowfall.
Useful Mariposa Grove Information
- Allow at least two hours for a visit.
- There is an entrance fee of $20 per car and the pass is good for a week.
- The road to Mariposa Grove was open last week but with recent snow it is probably now closed. You can ski or snowshoe into the Grove and then up on the trails to see the trees.
- The museum is closed in the off season.
- There are a couple of nearby towns to stay in including Oakhurst and Mariposa. Mariposa is also a good town to position yourself for entrance to the Yosemite Valley.