The giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National ParkPhoto credit: Francesco Carucci / Shutterstock.com
Yosemite National Park closed its famous Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias nearly a month ago as a wildfire threatened the ancient trees. Last week, the situation finally reversed.
“We can barely contain our excitement that the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias reopened today!” park officials announced. “The Mariposa Grove shuttle has resumed operation. Air quality is good to moderate with blue skies.”
Importantly, only part of the Washburn Trail, the western portion of the Perimeter Trail, and the trail from the Mariposa Grove toward Wawona remain closed.
Yosemite was able to reopen because the 4,886-acre Washburn Fire, which was first reported on July 7, was declared 100 percent contained on July 30.
“There’s definitely evidence that a fire came through,” Yosemite park ranger Scott Gediman said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “If you’re a visitor and you drive up, you’re going to see the burned area between the depot and the grove, but once you get to the grove and go up, everything’s great.”
A Majestic Location
Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains is about a 5-hour drive from San Francisco or a 4-hour drive from Sacramento. While the park is known for its waterfalls, forests, and granite cliffs El Capitan and Half Dome, its giant sequoias also draw visitors from around the world.
Here’s why: Located in the southern section of Yosemite, the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and is home to more than 500 mature giant sequoias.
Chief among those trees are the visitor favorites The Bachelor and Three Graces, the Columbia tree which is the tallest tree in the grove, the 209-foot-tall Grizzly Giant which is the oldest and second-largest tree in the grove, and the Washington tree which is the largest tree in the grove by volume.
A Threatening Wildfire
As the Washburn wildfire approached Mariposa Grove last month, park officials evacuated and temporarily closed the grove.
Importantly, fire management teams also wrapped the park’s historic Galen Clark cabin in protective foil. They also installed a sprinkler system near Grizzly Giant to dampen the ground around the tree using water from a small pool.
At the time, fire officials were confident the sequoias, which are “very fire resistant,” were well-protected, Nancy Phillipe, a park ranger with Yosemite Fire, said, according to CNN.
Now that the fire has been contained, it’s apparent that no sequoias died, Gediman said, the LA Times reports. And while some trees have fire scars, some of those trees are between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, so there’s no way to determine which fire over the years caused the scars.
Know Before You Go
If you plan to visit Yosemite this fall, you’ll want to keep in mind that the park offers a free shuttle service from the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza to Mariposa Grove. Although the welcome plaza has about 300 parking spaces, rangers explain that those spaces are often filled by late morning — so you’ll need to arrive by mid-morning to have the best chance at finding a parking space.
From now through September 7, the shuttle will run between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. The last shuttle leaves Mariposa Grove at 8 p.m.
From September 8 through November 7, the shuttle will operate between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The last shuttle leaves Mariposa Grove at 6:30 p.m.
Finally, a reservation is needed to drive into or through Yosemite National Park between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. through September 30, 2022. Reservations are required to help manage traffic congestion.
You can make a reservation to visit Yosemite National Park on the Recreation.gov website.
You can learn more about planning a trip to Yosemite on the NPS website.
While you’re thinking about the park, be sure to read all of our Yosemite content, including