Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove Reopens to the Public

Date Posted: 07.02.2018

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias reopened to the public on June 15th after the biggest restoration project in Yosemite National Park’s history. The largest of three sequoia groves within the park, Mariposa Grove contains hundreds of mature trees that are up to 300 feet tall and 3,000 years old. The Grove’s reopening marks the completion of an ambitious, multiyear restoration effort funded by a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and Yosemite Conservancy to preserve these majestic trees by balancing visitor needs with ecological protection.

In 1864, during the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation setting aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias “for public use, resort, and recreation.” Because the land was initially overseen by the State of California, Yosemite was not the first National Park—Yellowstone secured that position—but it was the first manifestation of the national park idea.

“The historical significance of the Mariposa Grove cannot be overstated,” said Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman. “This was the first time a government anywhere in the world set aside land for preservation.”

The last 150 years of human intervention in the Grove has been brief in comparison to the lifespan of the giant trees, but this chapter has had a profound impact on their vitality. The Yosemite Conservancy explains that “roads and parking areas, built in the 1930s before the intricacies of sequoia-forest ecology were fully understood, were severely affecting the Grove’s hydrology, vegetation and wildlife.” Extensive infrastructure and asphalt roads threatened the trees’ surprisingly shallow root systems, which can extend more than 200-feet wide but are located only 4–5 feet below the soil surface.

Over the past eight years, Mithun has led planning and design of the Grove’s restoration. Holistic analysis and planning efforts addressed natural resources, cultural resources, visitor use patterns, and operations and maintenance practices. The resulting restoration incorporated relocation of existing parking areas and infrastructure, revised circulation, new visitor educational and interpretive facilities, new accessible interpretive trails and trailheads, and, most importantly, restoration of giant sequoia and wetland habitats.

To learn more about the restoration, watch the Mithun-produced video illustrating the transformation of Mariposa Grove.

Select media coverage of the restoration and public reopening includes: