The Sierra Nevada mountain range, home to Sequoia National Park, has enchanted humans for thousands of years. But it wasn’t until President Benjamin Harrison signed a bill authorizing the park in the fall of 1890, that the site and its massive, ancient trees were protected, and would be admired by visitors for years to come.
Situated east of Visalia, Calif., and the San Joaquin Valley, in the southern section of the Sierra Nevada, the park spans over 404,000 acres, and is part of a partnership with the King’s Canyon National Park to the north, administered by the National Park Service. In addition to rugged mountains, deep canyons and valleys, the two parks contain and protect old-growth giant sequoia trees.
One main attraction considered to be the world’s largest tree (by volume): the General Sherman Tree. At a height of approximately 275 feet, a ground circumference of about 103 feet, and weighing 2.7 million pounds, the tree stands at the northern end of the park’s aptly named Giant Forest.
The Giant Forest is home to 5 of the 10 most massive trees in the world.
Sequoia National Park is also home to Mount Whitney, with a summit peaking at an estimated height of 14,505 feet. Mount Whitney is considered the tallest mountain within the contiguous 48 states.
According to local history, a Californian named John Muir climbed the nearby Converse Basin in 1877 and was surprised to discover a sawmill cutting trees from the Sequoia Groves. After consistent political lobbying, legislation was proposed to save the trees and then President Benjamin Harrison signed the bill into law on Sept. 25, 1890. That action made the park California’s first national park and the nation’s second, after Yellowstone.
Today’s park visitors enjoy camping, cave tours, skiing/snowshoeing, rock climbing, museums, ranger-led programs, hiking, horseback riding, and more.
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