Visiting the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park is one thing you have to do during your trip to Yosemite! This is the largest sequoia grove in the park full of giant trees and beautiful scenery. There are many things to do and see in the Mariposa Grove from walking through a colossal tree to watching the sunset and hugging a 2000-year-old living creature. Perfect for hikers, nature-lovers, children and tree enthusiasts – this is the ultimate guide to the Mariposa Sequoia Grove in Yosemite National Park.
- What is the Mariposa Grove?
- What is a Sequoia?
- Where is the Mariposa Grove?
- How do I get to the Mariposa Grove?
- What can I do and see in the Mariposa Grove?
- Gasp at the Grizzly Giant
- Walk through the California Tunnel Tree
- Pay your respects to the Fallen Monarch
- Admire the Bachelor and Three Graces
- Spot some Wildlife
- Feel like a woodland princess on a Wooden Throne
- Watch the Sunset in Mariposa Grove
- Try and hug a tree
- Take some vertical Panorama pictures
- Read the information signs at Mariposa Welcome Grove
- How much time should I spend in the Yosemite Mariposa Grove?
- Where can I stay near the Mariposa Grove?
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What is the Yosemite Mariposa Grove?
The Mariposa Grove in Yosemite is officially called the “Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias”. There are two sequoia groves in Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite. There are over 500 mature giant sequoias here!
What is a Sequoia?
A sequoia is a giant tree. Sequoias are magnificent living beings. They may not be as tall as the redwoods nor as wide baobab tree but if you combine its height and circumference, they are the biggest tree by volume in the world. The largest sequoia tree by volume is just south of Yosemite National park in Sequoia national park.
Sequoias are only found naturally on the Western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. They occur at an altitude around 1,500 m to 2,500 m in moist valleys. These trees have adapted to forest fires and actually benefit to an extent from fire. The fire helps eliminate other species of trees which compete for water and their bark is fairly fire resistant.
These giant trees are truly beautiful and a photo does not do the true size of a sequoia justice.
Where is the Mariposa Grove?
The Yosemite Mariposa Grove lies in the south of Yosemite National Park. It is just off Highway 41 close to the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The grove is 31 miles from Yosemite Valley and the drive to the grove takes around 45 minutes. If you are staying in Oakhurst, Mariposa Grove is just 16 miles from Oakhurst.
You will need to drive to the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. Depending on the time of year you are visiting you will either be able to drive straight to the grove trailhead or if the shuttle is running you can leave your car at the welcome plaza.
How do I get to the Mariposa Grove Trailhead?
How you get to the Mariposa Grove Trailhead depends on the time of year you are visiting.
To get to the Mariposa Grove Trailhead in March through to November, you will need to park your car at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza and hop on a shuttle.
The shuttle runs from 8am to 5pm from mid-March to May. In the summer, from mid-May to October, the shuttle runs from 8am to 8pm. Then from October 15th to November the 30th the shuttle runs from 8am to 5pm.
If you are visiting Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove in winter, there is no shuttle. The shuttle service stops at the Mariposa Grove from December until mid-March. The Mariposa Grove Road closes to cars from the end of November. Yet all trails in the grove remain open in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
What can I do and see in the Mariposa Grove?
There are many amazing things to see and do in the Mariposa Grove! From seeing the famous giant trees, themselves to admiring the sunset and tree hugging! Here are 10 fun things to see and do in the Yosemite Mariposa Grove!
These are things you can do on the Grizzly Giant Loop trail. This trail is a two-mile loop trail. There are board walks for the first section which means certain parts are wheelchair accessible.
Gasp at the Grizzly Giant
The Grizzly Giant is one tree you do not want to miss when you visit the Mariposa Grove! The Grizzly Giant is said to be the 25th or 26th biggest tree in the world! It is as tall as the statue of Liberty in New York. Some of its roots are a staggering 60m from the base of the tree trunk. There are many great points where you can admire this tree goliath free and try to get a picture of!
If the Grizzly Giant tree is not big enough for you, consider walking up to the Washington tree which is the biggest sequoia tree in the Mariposa Grove!
Walk through the California Tunnel Tree
The California tunnel tree is another iconic sequoia tree in the Mariposa grove. The tree was carved out over 100 years ago in 1895. It was carved in an attempt to bring more tourists into the park. Of course, the park is not allowed to do this nowadays but it is still fun to walk through. Also, you can admire how resilient these magnificent sequoia trees are as it has begun to heal itself as the bark is now smooth over.
Add walking through the California tunnel tree to your things to do in the Mariposa Grove list!
Say your respects to the Fallen Monarch
The Fallen Monarch is a sequoia tree which fell over 300 years ago. Although you would not think it had fallen so long ago as the tree looks as if it fell fairly recently. These giant trees do not decay as quickly as other trees.
The Fallen Monarch is close to the start of the Mariposa Grove trailhead so you will be able to admire walking alongside a fallen sequoia during your visit to the Mariposa Grove. Looking at its roots and taking a photo of them is a highlight for many visitors.
Look out for the Bachelor and Three Graces
The Bachelor and the Three Graces are a group of four sequoia trees. The Three Graces are very close together and their roots are incredibly intertwined. There is a concern that if one of the Three Graces were to fall, it would bring the other two with it.
Spot some Wildlife in the Mariposa Grove
See if you can spot some wildlife such as mule deer during your visit to the Mariposa Grove! Animals love the sheltered woodland area making this a great place to try and catch some of Yosemite’s wildlife.
Put your camera on sport mode to try and take photos of Yosemite’s animals.
Become a Woodland Princess on a Wooden Throne
Forget Game of Throne’s iron throne – I want a sequoia throne! Towards the end of the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail (if you are following the trail in an anti-clockwise direction) is a lovely sequoia tree which seems to have a perfectly natural wooden throne. Pretend you are a woodland elvish queen and enjoy a little rest on the sequoia tree.
Watch the Sunset in the Mariposa Grove
The sunset in the Mariposa Grove is a truly magical experience. The golden rays pierce through the many trees to show an orange spectacle. The sunset is best seen from the end of the Grizzly Giant Loop trail on the hill looking Westwards. The sun flares and rays are a photographer’s dream making this one of Yosemite’s best Instagram spots and photography location.
For more California sunset inspiration check out our post on the best sunset spots in Death Valley!
Try and hug a Sequoia Tree
Many of the Sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove are protected from being touched by visitors. This is because visitors’ feet can damage the soil and roots of the tree. These giant trees have enough external factors such as climate change, forest fires, snow etc without visitors adding to their worries.
Some of the small sequoia trees on the other hand are okay to touch. Make the most of this and unleash your inner tree hugger. When else will you be able to hug a living creature that is over 2000 years old!?
Take vertical Panorama Pictures
Panorama functions on mobiles are generally used for landscapes horizontally. Yet to capture a giant tree, you may want to try using the function vertically! It can be hard to take photos of these giant trees without cutting you or the top of the tree out of the image. With a panorama photo you can capture the entirety of the sequoia tree!
It may take a few attempts with the panorama function on your phone until you are happy with the result, but when you have cracked it – admire just how big that tree really is!
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Read the Information Signs at Mariposa Welcome Grove Plaza
Whilst you are waiting for the shuttle to the Mariposa Grove, make sure you check out the information signs! Learn about the giant sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove. If you have children, teach them about the trees they are about to see or have just seen.
Add reading the information signs at the Mariposa Welcome Grove Plaza to your things you must do at the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite.
How much time should I spend in the Mariposa Grove?
These 10 things to do in the Mariposa Grove are for those with a couple of hours to spare during their Yosemite Trip. You can easily walk the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail within 1.5 to 2 hours.
Can I spend a whole day exploring the Mariposa Grove?
If you have more time there are plenty more giant trees waiting to be discovered! You could embark on an epic hike on the Mariposa Grove Trail. This is an 11km (7 mile) round trip around the giant trees to Wawona Point. The Mariposa Grove Trail takes around 4 to 6 hours to complete and the total elevation gain is 360m (1200 feet). You could also consider hiking the Guardians Loop Trail which is another strenuous trail starting at the arrival area and goes past many famous trees such as the Telescope Tree and the fall Wawona Tunnel Tree.
Where can I stay near the Mariposa Grove?
There are a few places you can stay near the Mariposa Grove. If you are looking at being as close as possible to the sequoia grove consider staying in Fish Camp or Wawona. If that is fully booked or you would prefer to stay somewhere larger check out accommodation options in Yosemite Forks or Oakhurst. You can use this map on booking.com to find a place to stay on your dates.
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Have you been inspired to visit the Mariposa Grove?
Have you been inspired to visit the Mariposa Grove during your visit to Yosemite National Park? Would you like to walk through a giant tree or watch the sunset from the sequoia grove? Let us know in the comments below!