The Giants of California – Giant Sequoias!

No, we are not talking about the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, but rather the majestic largest trees on the planet – the Giant Sequoias.  Along picturesque highway 395 is the gateway to Yosemite National Park from the east.  No, we did not stop at Yosemite on this trip, but we did spend about a week there a few months before our retirement.  Since Yosemite National Park is located in the Eastern Sierra we decided to insert our past excursion to the Giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove.  Our previous blog was about the Ancients, this one is about the Giants.

Mariposa Groove
Mariposa Grove

These giants are not the oldest living things, that title belongs to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine tree that we talked about in our previous post.  In total volume, the giant sequoias are the largest living things known to humans.  However, they are far outlived by the Bristlecone pine (4600 years old while the Sequoias only make it to around 3266 years).  The Bristlecones grow extremely slowly, while the Sequoias owe their size to rapid growth rather than their age.

We took the tram that winds through the Giant Forest, where we were awestruck by the Sequoia’s grandiosity and their massive trunk size.  They are not only tall, (you have to crane your neck straight up to see the top), but they are also broad – a car can be driven through some of them!  We got off the tram and hiked down to get a closer look at the many incredible giants in the forest.  We were indeed the dwarfs walking among the giants – an indescribable feeling.

Meet a few of the Giants…from the Mariposa Grove.

The Grizzly Giant is number 26 on the largest tree list and is estimated to be 1800 years old.  It is indeed a grizzly – its tall, its huge and enormous!

Grizzly giant
Grizzly Giant
Trunk of Grizzly Giant
Trunk of Grizzly Giant

The Clothespin Tree is named as such for it looks like a clothespin from afar.  The natural tunnel caused by numerous fires is wide and can fit a car.

Clothespin Tree
Clothespin Tree
Mariposa Tree
Mariposa Tree
Bachelor and Three graces
Bachelor and Three graces

The fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree collapsed in 1969 under a record snow load after being weakened by the massive hole in its base.  Note that the Sequoias do not have deep taproots, rather the roots are spread out as far as 150 feet fairly near the surface to provide a stable base to balance its massive size.

Fallen Monarch
A Fallen Giant

The California Tunnel Tree was cut in 1895 to allow horse drawn stages to pass through and is the only remaining tunnel tree in the forest.

California Tunnel Tree
California Tunnel Tree

Because the Yosemite National Park is world-famous, it was, of course, crowded during the summer with traffic and parking somewhat problematic.  The shuttle that services the thousands of visitors are overly crowded as well.  Our tip – if you visit during the summer be sure to get into the park as early as possible every day.  Despite the crowds, the magnificent beauty of Yosemite is unsurpassed.

On this trip, we camped at Yosemite Pines Campground in Groveland, which is about 30 minutes from the west gate.  Betsy had to be parked outside of the park due to her size.

A few of the many stunning vistas and natural beauty of Yosemite National Park, gem of the Eastern Sierra.

Yosemite Valley
Stunning Yosemite Valley
Hetch Hetchy
Controversial Hetch Hetchy, also known as the Little Yosemite
Half Dome at Glacier Point
View of Half Dome from Glacier Point
Top of Vernal Falls
Top of Vernal Falls, a few days later three visitors fell to their death as they climbed over the guard rail




  1. Looks beautiful! Can’t wait to go there. Is it open in the late fall? We’ll be in the San Francisco area next October-November after a cruise. Would fit in to the travel plans!

    • Usually the west gate coming from San Francisco is open unless there is a blizzard. Be sure to check CalTrans website before you go. You will not be disappointed, Yosemite is a real gem just be ready to deal with crowds.

  2. Great photos. This is a must see for me when the weather warms up.
    We are currently in Cottonwood AZ. Heading to Phx on Monday and will be in the phx area for awhile. Keep me posted on your where abouts 🙂

    • We will be in Bullhead City for thanksgiving week after that the our route is open until Tucson for Christmas. So we have a good chance of meeting up in the Phoenix Area. Send me an email of where your new digs in that area and we will hook up.

      • Monday we’re heading to Lake Pleasant for the Thanksgiving week and then we’ll try and make a reservation at Cave Creek Regional Park. They are currently booked for the holiday weekend or we’d go straight there. I’ll keep you posted. I’ve also been wanting to try out McDowell Reg Park. Nina (wheeling it) highly recommends as well as a few other bloggers.

  3. I’ve been to Muir Woods!!! That’s it. That’s all. Happy Thanksgiving. Hehehehe

    I had to gasp for breath looking at your Yosemite pictures. WHOA!

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