YOSEMITE – The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is undergoing some major changes, and most of the area will be closed for about 24 months, beginning on July 6.
The project is designed to “restore dynamic ecological processes and increase the resiliency of this treasured grove to withstand emerging stressors today and in the future,” say park officials.
The project and is already underway, although major work won’t begin until at least July 6.
Once completed, visitors to the Mariposa Grove will notice the removal of the gift shop, tram road, and tram tours; a smaller, relocated parking lot in the grove (with a larger parking lot at South Entrance with free shuttle service into the grove); a wheelchair-accessible trail to the Grizzly Giant; and new restrooms with flush toilets.
The dates listed above are tentative and subject to change.
Most of the Mariposa Grove will be closed, as described below. The park says they will attempt to provide additional access as work and weather permit, and they will update their page if access changes.
Mariposa Grove Road and Lower Mariposa Grove
The lower Mariposa Grove and Mariposa Grove Road will be closed for 24 months beginning no earlier than July 6, 2015. (The lower grove includes the Fallen Monarch, Bachelor and Three Graces, the Grizzly Giant, and the California Tunnel Tree).
Upper Mariposa Grove
The upper Mariposa Grove will be closed for 24 months beginning no earlier than July 6, 2015, however, foot and equestrian access will be allowed along the Outer Loop Trail, and visitors can access the Outer Loop Trail by foot or horseback using trails from Wawona and Fish Camp. (The upper grove includes the fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree, Telescope Tree, and the Mariposa Grove Museum).
Big Trees Tram Tour and Wawona-Mariposa Grove Shuttle
The Big Trees Tram Tour permanently ceased in 2014. The Wawona-Mariposa Grove shuttle service will not operate in 2015 or 2016.
2014: Construct new accessible trail to the Grizzly Giant and repair of structures at Wawona Point. There were no closures in 2014.
2015: Removal of roads in the Mariposa Grove, construction of the replacement service road bypassing the lower grove, and construction of a new shuttle stop in the lower grove.
2016: Construction of the South Entrance parking area and new restroom in the lower grove.
Tram area before project (left). Artist rendering of new trail at same location (right). Photo NPS
Other Places to See Giant Sequoias –
Yosemite National Park
Located on the Tioga Road just east of Crane Flat, the Tuolumne Grove has about two dozen mature giant sequoias. Sequoias are only visible after a one-mile hike with 500 feet of elevation loss. (The one-mile hike back to the parking lot gains 500 feet and is strenuous.) The drive takes about 1.5 hours from South Entrance. Parking is limited.
Yosemite National Park
Located on the Big Oak Flat Road east of Big Oak Flat Entrance, the Merced Grove has about two dozen mature giant sequoias. Sequoias are only visible after a 1.5-mile hike with 500 feet of elevation loss. (The 1.5-mile hike back to the parking lot gains 500 feet and is strenuous.) The drive takes about 1.5 hours from South Entrance. Parking is extremely limited.
Sierra National Forest
The Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias is a 1,540-acre tract in the Sierra National Forest containing 106 mature giant sequoias intermingled in a forest ofsecond growth pine, fir and incense cedar. Located in the center of the sequoia range, south of Yosemite National Park, the grove has been managed as an historical site, preserving the uniqueness and historical significance of the giant sequoias and what has occurred beneath their branches.
The road to the Nelder Grove is unpaved and not recommended for low-clearance vehicles, buses, RVs, or trailers. Parking is very limited and no services are available.
From Yosemite’s South Entrance, head south on Highway 41 to Sky Ranch Road (Road 632 or 6S10), which is also Forest Road 10, travel 6.6 miles, then turn left on 6S47Y. Then, go 1.2 miles to the fork in the road and continue right on 6S90 for 0.3 miles. Then turn left at Nelder Grove campground sign and travel 0.5 miles to Nelder Grove. The drive takes about an hour.
North and South Calaveras Groves
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras became a state park in 1931 to preserve the North Grove of giant sequoias. This grove includes the “Discovery Tree,” also known as the “Big Stump,” the first Sierra redwood noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. This area has been a major tourist attraction ever since, and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California. Wheelchair-accessible trails are available.
From Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat Entrance, take Highway 120 west to its junction with Highway 49. Take Highway 49 north, through Sonora, to Angels Camp, then take Highway 4 east to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. This drive takes about a two hours.
Kings Canyon National Park
The Grant Grove area was originally General Grant National Park, created in 1890 to protect giant sequoias from logging and contains the General Grant Tree, the third largest tree in the world.
From Yosemite’s South Entrance, head south on Highway 41 to Fresno, then take Highway 180 east to Grant Grove, in Kings Canyon National Park. This drive takes just over two hours.
Sequoia National Park
The Giant Forest is home to many of the world’s biggest trees, including General Sherman, the largest. Forty miles of trails, including the paved Big Trees Trail with wheelchair accessibility, invite visitors to immerse themselves in the majesty of the ancient grove.
From Yosemite’s South Entrance, head south on Highway 41 to Fresno, then take Highway 180 east to Grant Grove Village, in Kings Canyon National Park, then continue on Generals Highway to Giant Forest. This drive takes about three hours.