Restoring the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Restoring the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

The restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias balances visitor needs with ecological protection

Yosemite’s iconic Mariposa Grove is home to approximately 500 mature giant sequoias — titans that sprouted from tiny, oatmeal flake–size seeds hundreds or even thousands of years ago and now stretch as high as 290 feet. Those magnificent trees helped inspire the 1864 act that protected the grove and Yosemite Valley, sowing the seeds for the national park idea.

A century and a half after that landmark legislation, however, human development had made a profound impact on the trees and their habitat. Paved roads, parking lots and heavily trodden trails fragmented the grove’s wetlands, diverting water and threatening the sequoias’ long-term health.

In 2014, with support from Conservancy donors, the park broke ground on a multiyear project to restore Mariposa Grove, with the goal of preserving a natural wonder and enhancing the experience of visitors for generations to come.

To ensure visitor safety during the major restoration work, Mariposa Grove closed in July 2015 for a temporary period. Throughout the closure, trail and habitat crews have been transforming the grove, by pulling out pavement, planting native flora, and building new trails and boardwalks. Volunteers and youth program participants have played a role, too, by helping with activities such as removing social trails or collecting seeds for future planting.  Not far from the grove, a construction crew created a new arrival plaza at the South Entrance, where visitors will be able to park, get an introduction to the sequoias, and take a shuttle up to the trees.

Key elements of the restoration include:

  • Removing asphalt from the original parking lot and roadways, and transforming formerly paved areas into sustainable pedestrian trails and healthy sequoia habitat
  • Creating an accessible trail system in the lower part of the grove, including boardwalks over sensitive wetland areas
  • Improving accessibility around two iconic giant sequoias, the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree
  • Developing new educational signs and exhibits focused on the grove’s natural and human history
  • Completing repairs and new stonework at Wawona Point, the overlook above the grove, to create a safer, more enjoyable visitor experience
  • Replacing and repairing culverts to encourage natural water flow
  • Building a new arrival plaza at the South Entrance, complete with parking, restrooms, shuttle, hydration stations and the Yosemite Conservancy Depot, where visitors will be able to purchase books, apparel and other retail items

Thanks to your support, this historic project is restoring the grove into a healthy, vibrant home for the sequoias, and for the diverse plant and animal species that thrive in the snowmelt-fed habitat. When Mariposa Grove reopens to visitors (expected in June 2018), we will all be able to experience the majesty of the sequoias in an awe-inspiring, tranquil setting that reflects the importance of this treasured place as the cradle of the national park idea.

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Project Notes

This project was a dream come true. The Mariposa Grove was needing some tender loving care for many years. I can already see the transformation occurring as we pull out asphalt and infrastructure from the roots of the trees. The grove will be returned to a reverential experience for many people.

Sue Beatty
Restoration Ecologist
Yosemite National Park

Restoration of Mariposa Grove

Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove is home to hundreds of mature giant sequoias. Those magnificent trees helped inspire the...