Notes: Mariposa Grove is the largest grove of giant redwoods in Yosemite National Park. This 4 mi2 (10 km2) tract contains two distinct groves at different elevations; the lower grove contains 126 giant redwoods at an average elevation of 5,400 ft (1,646 m) while the upper grove contains 364 giant redwoods at an average elevation of 7,000 ft (2,134 m).
Although native americans and early Euro-American settlers likely visited Mariposa Grove before 1850, most park historians credit the grove's discovery to Galen Clark and his associate Milton Mann. Lured to the area by reports of giant redwood sightings nearby, Clark and Mann, in May 1857, explored southeast from Clark's ranch in Wawona along the divide between South Fork Merced River and Big Creek. They first entered the upper grove, near Galen Clark Tree (Clark noted later that he had visited Vermont Tree first), and soon explored the lower grove as well. Clark named the combined groves The Mariposa Grove of Big Trees after the surrounding Mariposa County.
In 1860, Clark and Mann completed the first trail to Mariposa Grove from Clark's ranch in Wawona. In May 1864, Clark built a cabin in the upper grove, at the edge of a meadow beside General Sheridan, which he offered as lodging to guests who visited the grove from his ranch in Wawona. The State of California renovated Clark's cabin in 1885 and 1902, and, in 1931, the National Park Service replaced it with the current Mariposa Grove Cabin which served as a museum and gift shop until July 2015.
In August 1870, The Mariposa Big Trees and Yosemite Turnpike Company completed the first road to the grove, and, in 1879, The Yosemite Stage and Turnpike Company constructed the first wagon road through the grove. In 1881, it hired Lyman, Otis, and Ben Scribner to carve a tunnel through Wawona Tree in the upper grove and, in 1895, hired W. H. Coop and John Cummings to carve a tunnel through California Tree in the lower grove. Wawona Tunnel Tree became a popular tourist attraction, and progressively more park visitors were photographed driving through the tree. In 1932, California Tree became a walk-through tunnel tree after the National Park Service rerouted Mariposa Grove Road away from the base of Grizzly Giant. Mariposa Grove Road was paved in 1934.
After Wawona Tunnel Tree fell in February 1969, the National Park Service closed Mariposa Grove Road to private vehicles and established the Big Trees Tram Tour which allowed
visitors to park near the current Arrival Area and to ride an
open-air tram through the grove. In July 2015, the National Park Service abolished the Big Trees Tram Tour
and closed Mariposa Grove for a three-year-long, $40 million restoration
to improve giant sequoia habitat and visitor experience.
Improvements included removing asphalt from roadways to create sustainable hiking trails, creating an accessible trail system in the lower grove with boardwalks over sensitive wetland areas, and constructing
a new Welcome Plaza, near the southern park entrance, with ample parking and shuttle service to and from the lower grove. Mariposa Grove reopened to the public on June 15, 2018.
Mariposa Grove includes the largest tree (Washington) and the tallest tree (Columbia) in Yosemite National Park, the last surviving giant redwood tunnel tree (California), and 2 of the 40 largest trees on Earth (Grizzly Giant and Washington). The grove contains 2 trees larger than 30,000 ft3 (850 m3) and 1 tree larger than 35,000 ft3 (991 m3).
Mariposa Grove includes the following giant redwoods:
Wawona Tree (now Wawona Log or Fallen Tunnel Tree) fell in February 1969.
Visit nps.gov/yose for updates and more information.
Photos: Pictures of Mariposa Grove