If you’re planning a visit to Yosemite National Park you’ll want to allow extra time for a visit to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
As the home to over 500 mature giant sequoias, Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is truly a gem at Yosemite National Park and a wonder to see up close.
Mariposa Grove is definitely worth visiting and I’m sharing what you need to know before you go.
Where is Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Located?
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is located in the southern part of Yosemite National Park. Yosemite’s south entrance to the park is on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Driving Distances to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
- Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park to Mariposa Grove – 22.7 miles (42 min)
- Bass Lake, CA to Mariposa Grove – 18.1 miles – (27 min)
- Yosemite Valley Visitor Center – 31.2 miles ( 57 min)
- Fresno, CA to Mariposa Grove – 63.5 miles (1 hr 18 min)
- Sequoia National Park to Mariposa Grove – 141 miles ( 2 hr 45 min)
- San Jose, CA to Mariposa Grove – 181 miles ( 3 hr 31 min)
- San Fransico, CA to Mariposa Grove – 211 miles (3hr 56 min)
- Los Angeles, CA to Mariposa Grove – 283 miles ( 4 hr 49 min)
- Reno, NV to Mariposa Grove – 323 miles ( 5 hr 39 min)
How Much is Admission to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias?
The park entrance fee for Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is $35 per vehicle and $10 for persons arriving on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, horseback, or non-commercial bus.
Does Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Require a Reservation?
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias doesn’t require a reservation during non-peak season.
If you’re traveling with pets it’s important to note that pets are NOT allowed on any trails or roads. This includes Grove Road, Washburn Trail, or anywhere in Mariposa Grove.
*Horses are only allowed on the Perimeter Trail.
How Much Time Should You Allow For Visiting Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias?
The national park recommends allowing 2 hours for a visit to Mariposa Grove to enjoy the full loop that winds along the edge of the grove and includes 300 feet of elevation gain.
I would recommend allowing 3-4 hours to visit Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias if you want to hike on multiple trails during your visit.
That will give you enough time to hike to several iconic trees and wait for the shuttle which can fill up quickly.
If you like to hike you’ll definitely want at least 2 full days to spend in Yosemite National Park.
I would recommend visiting Mariposa Grove of the Giant Sequoias on a separate day from your time in Yosemite Valley.
Mariposa Grove is the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park.
Arrive Early to Find Parking Near the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza
Mariposa Grove Rd, Fish Camp, CA
When you arrive at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias you’ll need to find parking near the Welcome Plaza.
The Welcome Plaza has a bookstore, public restrooms and visitor information for park guests.
Accessibility in Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
From approximately April – November Mariposa Grove Road is only open to vehicles displaying a disability placard that takes them to the Grizzly Giant parking area.
Guests with disabilities can access the grove on the section of the trail that’s wheelchair accessible from the Grizzly Giant parking area.
*All other park guests have to take the free shuttle to the trailhead.
Mariposa Grove Parking
There are 300 parking spaces available in the parking area. If you arrive at the park by mid-morning you’ll have better chances of finding a spot to park.
We opted to enjoy a picnic lunch in the back of our SUV rental before our hike instead of carrying it with us on the shuttle to the hiking trail.
Ride the Free Mariposa Grove Shuttle
The National Park service provides free shuttle buses that take park guests to the end of Mariposa Grove Road at the Mariposa Grove Arrival Area.
The road to Mariposa Grove is closed to private vehicles when the free shuttle is in operation at the park. You’ll have to use the shuttle to access Mariposa Grove, otherwise, you’ll have a very long walk before reaching the trailheads.
The free shuttle typically operates from early March- late November in the park. It’s important that you pay attention to the final shuttle departure times for the day during your visit.
* The shuttle doesn’t operate from December through March.
Winter Travel and Activities at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular winter activities at Mariposa Grove.
Mariposa Grove Road is closed to vehicles from December – April but the road and all trails within the Grove are still open to hikers, snowshoers, and cross country skiers.
What are the Largest Types of Trees in the World?
Giant sequoia trees are the largest trees by volume in the world.
Sequoia trees are measured 6 ft above ground because of their wide base at the bottom of the tree.
What’s the Difference Between a Giant Sequoia Tree and a Redwood Tree?
Giant sequoia trees have more volume and width in their trunk in comparison to redwood trees that are the tallest trees with a slender trunk.
Begin and End at The Mariposa Grove Arrival Area
The Mariposa Grove Arrival Area is a great spot to make a final bathroom break before you view the ancient trees in Mariposa Grove.
Guests line up for the return shuttle to the parking lot at the covered shelter near the restrooms.
If you visit during the summer months, you can expect to have a longer wait time for shuttle service due to bus capacity.
Trail Distances at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias ranging from a short walk to miles of trails.
You can find the trail distances and featured trees on each trail below:
- Big Trees Loop Trail: 0.3-mile hike (0.4 km) includes Fallen Monarch (lower grove)
- Grizzly Giant Loop Trail: 2-mile hike (3.2 km) includes Fallen Monarch, Bachelor & Three Graces, Grizzly Giant, California Tunnel Tree (lower grove)
- Guardians Loop Trail: 6.5-mile hike (10.5 km) includes Grizzly Giant Loop trees plus upper grove- (Also features the fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree, the Telescope Tree, and the Mariposa Grove Cabin)
- Mariposa Grove Trail: 7.0-mile hike (11.3 km) round trip- includes Grizzly Giant Loop trees plus Wawona Point and portions of the upper grove. (+ The Galen Clark Tree via a short spur)
The following hiking trails are closed from the Washburn Fire that took place July 7, 2022 – August 4, 2022:
- The western portion of the Perimeter Trail (from the Galen Clark Tree to near the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail).
- The trail from Mariposa Grove toward Wawona
*Check the National Park website to stay up to date on road and trail closures before your visit.
Elevation for Trails at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
- Elevation at trailhead: 5,600 feet
- Big Tree Loop Elevation Gain: slight change
- Grizzly Giant Loop Elevation Gain: 300 feet
- Guardians Loop & Mariposa Grove Trail Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
Stay Hydrated While at Mariposa Grove
The National Park recommends that you take at least 2 quarts of water per person because the air is dryer at a higher elevation.
The Mariposa Grove is located 5600-6400 feet above sea level and requires more water than you would typically drink.
Fun fact: Giant sequoia trees drink around 1,000 gallons of water daily.
If the mature giant sequoia trees need lots of water, so do you!
*The Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza (near South Entrance) has flush toilets and drinking water open for public use year round.
Start With the Grizzly Giant Loop
If you are visiting the park for the first time the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail is one of the best places to start. The 2-mile trail will take you to the major attractions in the National Park including:
- Fallen Monarch
- Bachelor & Three Graces
- Grizzly Giant
- California Tunnel Tree
From there you can choose your own adventure and hike as short or as far as you want.
Admire Grizzly Giant Up-Close
The Grizzly Giant sequoia tree is most famous tree in the park. It’s also one of the most photographed trees in the park.
Grizzly Giant also has bragging rights as the tallest tree in the park measuring 209 feet and has an estimated volume of over 34,000 cubic feet.
Grizzly Giant is also the oldest tree in the park at an estimated age of 2,700 years old.
There is a fence around the base of the Grizzly Giant but you can still get close enough for a great picture.
Tips for Taking Pictures of Mature Giant Sequoias
- A wide-angle lens will help you fit more of the magnificent trees in your picture.
- Take some pictures with a person nearby to show the scale of the mature trees.
- If you want to fit the whole entire tree in the picture turn your camera sideways and use the panoramic option. Move the camera slowly in panoramic mode starting low and up to the top of the tree to capture all of the tree.
Walk Thru California Tunnel Tree
California Tunnel tree is a very popular tree because it’s the only living sequoia that was tunneled in the grove that’s still alive and standing.
The man-made tunnel in the tree was originally cut in 1895 to allow horse-drawn stagecoaches to pass through it.
Be prepared to wait a while in line if you want to take a picture in front of California Tunnel Tree.
If you’re in a time crunch take a pic on the other side of the tree which is less crowded.
The clothespin tree was one of my favorite discoveries among the large trees in Mariposa Sequoia Grove that day.
It was pretty remarkable to see such a tall tree without a solid trunk base.
What is the Closest Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias?
The Fresno Yosemite International Airport is the closest airport to Yosemite National Park (64.1 miles) around 90 minutes from the park.
If you are flying to Fresno Yosemite International Airport a rental car will provide you with the most flexibility.
A Beautiful Place Preserved By Past Presidents
We can thank President Abraham Lincoln for having a role in preserving the park for us to enjoy today.
On June 30, 1864, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Valley Grant Act protecting Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation.”
In 1890, the ground around Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley became Yosemite National Park.
In 1901, naturalist John Muir said “The Big Tree (sequoia gigantea) is Nature’s forest masterpiece, and so far as I know, the greatest of living things.”
John Muir joined President Theodore Roosevelt for 3 nights of camping in Yosemite National Park in 1903. The first night was spent in Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias near Giant Grizzly.
That trip inspired President Roosevelt to later expand his efforts which lead to creating more national parks, national monuments, wildlife refugees and forests.
When Can You Camp at Mariposa Grove?
Overnight camping is only permitted in Mariposa Grove from December 1 – April 15 if the Mariposa Grove Road is closed to cars and there also needs to be enough snow for skiing.
Campers at Mariposa Grove are required to have a wilderness permit and can only stay above the Clothespin tree in the park.
What is the Biggest Threat to a Sequoia Tree?
The sequoia trees are subjected to longer fire seasons with climate change with rising temperatures and diminishing snowpack in the winter. Strong winds are more rare but can also put the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite at risk.
Stop and Take In the Beauty of Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Walking among the giant sequoia groves at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is truly a spiritual experience.
Take deep breaths of the fresh air and pause to admire the incredible wondrous trees around you.
It’s a surreal experience that I highly recommend!
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