Many visitors to Yosemite want to see “The Big Trees” or the “Giant Sequoia“. These amazing giants are unique to the western slopes of the sierra nevada mountain range and, even there only grow in certain climates at certain elevations. To read about them is no comparison to standing next to one. Where can you do this?
Yosemite Sequoia Groves
There are 3 main groves of Giant Sequoia in Yosemite National Park. Interestingly they are near the 3 main western entrances to the park.
Mariposa Grove Of Giant Sequoia
The most popular place to see Yosemite sequoia is at The Mariposa Grove. This giant Yosemite sequoia grove is located just inside the southern entrance to the park off of Hwy 41. The Mariposa Grove of Big Trees is the largest of the 3 groves and the busiest. As I write this in July of 2017 the grove is closed due to renovation. For information on progress and when it will open CLICK HERE The Mariposa Grove has notable sequoia trees such as the Grizzly Giant and the Wawona Tree
As well as notable visitors such as John Muir, Galen Clark, Henry David Thoreau and Teddy Roosevelt.
The Mariposa Grove of Sequoias is, by far the most popular grove of big trees in Yosemite National Park however it is not the only one.
The Tuolumne Grove of Yosemite Sequoia
If you are visiting Yosemite Valley and would like to visit a grove of giant sequoia then the Tuolumne Grove may be your best bet. While the Mariposa grove is nearly 30 miles from the Valley the Tuolumne grove is about 10 miles.
The Tuolumne Grove is smaller with only about 25 big Yosemite sequoia trees. You have to walk downhill about 1.2 miles to reach the trees and then hike back up (about 400 feet) to the trail head.
Normally the Tuolumne Grove of Sequoia is a quiet place to visit however, with the Mariposa Grove being closed it is a good idea to get there early before the small parking lot fills up.
The smallest Yosemite Sequoia Grove in Yosemite National Park is located off of the northern most entrance to the park via Hwy 120.
While there are fewer trees in the grove and it is a bit of a downhill hike to reach I found this grove to be quite amazing. For one, you can actually walk up to and touch these trees as they are, for the most part, not fenced off with signs warning you to stay back. Several of the trees require hiking further down through the brush to actually reach.
Normally this grove would also be very quiet but with the Mariposa Grove the small parking area fills up early in the morning.
While not native to the valley there are several big trees growing in the valley itself. These trees are less than 200 years old so they are not as tall or massive as those that have lived for 1,000 years or more. Nevertheless they are there and you can easily visit them.
The first one you will likely see is just outside of the Yosemite Museum in the Village. There is one that has been cut down and stood up to see the rings and give you an idea of how long these giants live but the one I am talking about is very much alive. If you look to the right of the exit, across the path you will see a few trees that look very similar. Most of these are Cedar trees but among them is a sequoia.
There are at least 2 ways to tell which one it is. The first way is to spot the sign at its foot identifying it as a sequoia. The other, and more fun way is to knock on the trees. The cedar trees are hard but when you knock on the sequoia you will find it to be soft and spongy!
If you keep walking north past this Museum sequoia you will come to the Yosemite Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery is my favorite place to spend time in when I am in the valley. It is peaceful, quiet and many great Yosemite pioneers rest there. One in particular, Galen Clark planed several sequoias around his grave site before he died. Seven of them surround the small granite marker baring his name.
Are There Any Big Sequoias In The Valley?
I don't think there is a larger sequoia in Yosemite Valley than the one that grows near the old Superintendents Residence. The sequoia is visible from Northside Drive just east of Yosemite Falls Lodge. You can easily walk there from the Lodge. I don't know the history of this tree but, from the size of it it has been there for more than 150 years..
Here is a photo of the residence so you can find it easier
By Related names:U.S. Department of the Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons