Lonely Planet Writer

Yosemite’s incredible Mariposa Grove reopens to the public

Within California’s Yosemite National Park lies an incredible forest of giant sequoias that has been closed to the public since 2015. But this week, Mariposa Grove reopens after years of restoration, allowing travellers to once again stand in awe of the ancient trees.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park, California. Image by ©Stephen Moehle/500px

The 500 giant sequoia within the grove are among the largest living organisms on earth, and the new restoration work will help to protect them far into the future. The area, which usually sees about one million visitors a year, has been closed for nearly three years while the $40 million protection efforts were underway. Where there was once parking in the grove, travellers can now explore the forest on new natural pathways. Instead of driving in to the fragile ecosystem, visitors will head to the Welcome Plaza where they can take a free two-mile shuttle bus ride (which runs 8 am to 8 pm in the summer) to the Grove Arrival Area, which has been changed from a parking area into a natural habitat.

Bachelor and Three Graces in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California. Image by ©Scott_Walton/Getty Images/iStockphoto

As travellers walk the new trails, they will find natural surfaces instead of the old pavement, as well as wooden boardwalks that allow people to walk over the sensitive wetland habitat, while protecting the roots of the trees. Overall, four miles of new trails have been built, as well as a whole new trail that will take visitors to see the famous Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree. What makes the giant sequoias so special is that they can grow to be 300 feet-high, 35 feet in diameter and 100 feet in circumference. The Grizzly Giant, which is one of the largest in the grove, stands at 209 feet-tall and is estimated to be 1800 years old. The restoration works also include new ways to educate visitors about the ecology and history of the area.

If wandering through a gorgeous forest sounds like the perfect way to spend a holiday, there’s never been a better time to check out California’s forests. Lonely Planet named California’s Redwood Coast the best spot to visit in the US for 2018.